Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Are you prepared for forks in the road?

On this journey of life, when you arrive at a fork in the road, what do you do?

If both paths lead to traveling far different directions, it is wise to take time to analyze, contemplate, and reconfigure the trip based on taking each road. Life's journey is bound to include detours and forks in the road, and we can't just wait for someone else to tell us what to do. What if they advise of the wrong course to take for us? What if they don't anticipate even more road blocks on one route versus another? What if they don't know our ultimate destination?

The answer to that last question is key.

On this journey of life, including career, what is your ultimate destination? 

My ultimate career goal has been to do work I enjoy and am good at, with people I respect, for a cause bigger than all of us. When recently given the chance to take a gigantic step toward that goal, I took it.

Last month, I joined MRIGlobal as the Chief Talent Officer/Director of Learning. As one of the nation's leading research institutes, MRIGlobal conducts programs in the areas of national security and defense, life sciences, energy and the environment, agriculture and food safety, and engineering and infrastructure. See more about their work: http://www.MRIGlobal.org

MRIGlobal has always been on the short list of places I would like to work, as they have been a client for eight years. It is truly an honor to go there each day. In fact, tears came to my eyes when they invited me to join them. 

While my consulting work will wind down, the All-In message continues on with speaking and writing. So continue checking this blog and the Facebook page.

Although I was not looking for a new position, and was, in fact, preparing to launch another company, there was a fork in the road when I thought the path was clear. That's the thing about life's journey: there are forks, road blocks, and short cuts when least expected for all of us.

The best way to discern which route to take is to be prepared for the journey, know your destination, and anticipate the trip. Traveling with great people makes the trip a pleasure, whichever road you take. Thanks to you for traveling this journey with me.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Who says you can't be left out?

I just read an article about atheists being upset they were left out of the political conventions that took place over the last two weeks. The atheist leaders want God out of conventions--not mentioned by any speakers or reflection/invocation leaders. Their numbers are minuscule compared with Jews, Christians, Muslims, and other believers; however, they have a sense of entitlement that their specific group should have been accommodated.

My question is: who says you can't be left out?

Some people have a sense of entitlement that would have baffled and offended previous generations, especially when including you means excluding 100-times more people.

Everyone cannot be included in every single thing. Be okay with that. It is okay to be left out sometimes. Select your battles carefully. Going up against millions of people, with your tribe of hundreds, may not be the best use of your time or energy. Instead, work on growing your numbers organically so you don't have to battle to be included.

You could be invited instead. There's a difference between forcing your way in and being welcomed. One has short-term impact, while the other has greater long-term effect. Which matters most?

And another thing...

If/when you do get invited, be gracious. That's a topic for a different day.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

You might be a slacker if...

...your effort is contingent upon the prize.

During a talk with a group of twenty-somethings recently, I provided a brief small group competition. It was a 20-minute exercise and they were informed it was a competition. They were not informed in advance of the prize to be awarded the winning small group.

At the conclusion of the exercise and the announcement of the winning team, the whole room wanted to know their prize. What if the prize was a raise, I asked the room. Wow! You could hear the uproar from blocks around! Exclamations of "That's not fair!" were hollered by several in the room. One person even said she would tell on me to the CEO! 

Separate from the young tattle-tale needing to learn communication, emotional intelligence, and general people skills, what stands out to you?

A few things stood out to me:
First, I'm quite certain they all expected to get a prize or they expected the winners' prize not to be too great. People in this age group are used to getting trophies just for showing up once in a while. They are not used to standing out when they do something extra. In fact, they are not used to having to do anything extra and seem to resent being asked to do so.

Second, and what I spoke with them about at the time, their effort on the team project was dependent upon the prize. When they found out the prize could be something more than a cheery smile, many commented that they would have tried harder had they known. The effort of many was contingent on the prize rather than on their own pride in their work. 

I find that sad. 

At such an early stage of their careers, they already do not give their all to each task. I wonder if they ever had pride in their performance or if they just never had to?

For the record, most of the young people in the room tried hard, worked together, and wanted to win no matter what. About a third of the group, the loudest of course, were the slackers. I am glad most of the group gets it and I hope they don't let the loud slackers ruin their attitudes and expectations of themselves. 

You might be a slacker if...
  • Your effort is contingent upon the prize.
  • You blame others for your lack of effort.
  • You think procrastination is a viable success strategy.
Jeff Foxworthy, watch out! What else...you might be a slacker if...fill in the blank...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Team commitment requires more than Kumbaya

Think of all the teams, formal and informal, you are on at work: project teams, client teams, strategic teams. You also are on teams at home as the leader of a family, or sibling, or son or daughter. You are on teams in your church, neighborhood, kids's school, nonprofits you support, and with friends. Some of you are on athletic teams--professional or not.

Sometimes you are a teammate and other times you are the team leader. Are you always a team player?

How committed are you to your teams and their goals? How committed are you to your teammates? Does your commitment waiver when the teams are winning v. losing? Or, does it waiver depending on how the teams are led? Or, is your commitment dependent upon commitment demonstrated by other teammates and leaders?

Our commitment to the teams we are on is not a one-time promise. It is impacted all the time and must be renewed frequently. Team leaders in any field who expect a version of Kumbaya at the start of a project or season will form and keep player commitment will cause their teams to lose.

Work teams lose when projects take too long or cost too much. They might get finished, but the lack of commitment is costly and lack of trust will impact future projects too. I was on a project for a nonprofit training event several years ago. The leadership of the team was so bad (wasteful of our time by lack of preparation), the team has never heard from him again. Another team I was on was run by a leader whose ego was bigger than everyone else, and the only things that were completed were what she micromanaged and instructed. She personally caused the finances and membership of the group to decrease, plus, she missed out on so many great ideas. You have been on similar teams, right?

As a team player, it is important to assess your commitment to your teams. When you are not All-In, assess your behavior and reasons. It is okay if the team changes its Mission for you to change your commitment; however, it is not acceptable to sabotage the team overtly or with poor performance.

Players often make self-centered decisions when they have not bought in to the culture, leadership, or goals. If you are a teammate over the age of twelve, it is unacceptable to behave in a selfish manner. You are taught by that age to put the team first.

When players put themselves first, they reflect their own character and how they feel about their teammates and leaders. Good leaders know team commitment can be fleeting and must be renewed frequently. Slogans like "There is no "I" in TEAM!" don't work when hollered once. There may be no "I" in team, but there is "ME". Experienced, talented leaders pay attention to player commitment and build it often, even when a player makes a mistake and puts himself first. It takes more than punishment or discipline to earn a player's commitment.

As a player and leader, pay attention to commitment all the time. Paying attention to it once is not going to lead to success in any field.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thoughts on the first day of school

My best friend from college spent last weekend taking her eldest daughter across the country to college for her Freshman year. My dear friend's experience and feelings about the transition for her and her daughter prompted me to ponder how my students feel this week.

As an  adjunct professor of Management at the University of Missouri-KC School of Management, I begin teaching an undergrad management course today. The MBA course I will teach this semester begins in October.

What are my students feeling this first week of class? Former students told me how they felt the first week of class: nervous about unknown teachers, mad about the cost of books, tired from busy summers, anxious about the workload, excited about the clean slate a new term brings, excited to meet new people, nervous about meeting new people, worried none of it will matter anyway because there are no jobs.

In thinking about the students and their futures, I will honor the following priorities and promises:

  • Course resources: Your book and course pack will be used. You will get your money's worth. They are valuable resources worth keeping, if you can.
  • Your time: You are choosing to spend about three hours with me each week, and I promise to work hard to make the time worth it. If you do the work each week, your time in the course will be worth it because you will be better managers for having the experience. The best managers can become the best leaders--and they can change entire companies!
  • My time: I will honor my time also. We all have a finite number of minutes here on this earth, and I don't waste many of them. I'm All-In! Come to class prepared and our time will be spent well.
  • Energy: I will come to class prepared and excited to be there. Our energy feeds off each other's, but it starts with the leader. I don't expect you to pump me up every class. I expect you to respond to the energy I bring--heck, let's face it, that's what happens anyway. 
  • Honor: I consider it a great honor to be part of your education, and I take the small role I play in the course of your education and life seriously. You make personal and financial sacrifices to pursue your education, and I respect you for it and will honor it.
  • Integrity: I will serve you with integrity, and I expect you to pursue your grade with the highest standard of integrity, honesty, and ethics. There will be no exceptions tolerated.
  • Excitement: The courses I get to teach are full of useful information that matters in the real world. We will talk about people, events, and companies that matter. I love this stuff and can't wait to share and discuss it with you!
  • Guarantee: While I cannot guarantee you will get an A or a big job upon graduation, I can guarantee that if you do great work, respect me, your classmates, and the material, I will be in your corner. I will share resources with you, coach you, open my network to you, and cheer for you. Once you are in my class, you become part of a network of people I care about. You will always matter to me because I will have been honored to be your professor. If you are All-In, I will be too.

That's all I can think of without getting too sappy about life. I know this semester is an important foundation for my students' careers, and I will serve them well.

Let's go Roos!

Monday, August 20, 2012

What's the Big Idea

For all the entrepreneurs out there...those who are starting businesses, re-starting, or preparing to start...those thinking about starting some day...

Best wishes to all as you continue pursue your dreams All-In!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The triple threat of human spirit: Will Still Thrill

When you combine WILL power with the STILL power of self-awareness and self-acceptance with the THRILL power of inspiration, you are living All-In. (SOURCE: Ian Lawton at www.SoulSeeds.com)

Of the three, which do you need to enhance most:
  1. Do you need to boost your WILL power?
  2. Do you need to be more aware of yourself and how you are received? Or, do you need to be more accepting of yourself?
  3. Do you need to be more inspired? The most inspired people I know find inspiration intentionally every day. Do you, or do you want to do it more often? 
Whatever your answer, I hope you commit to it and continue to live and lead All-In and inspire others to do the same.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The slim margin between victory and defeat

Have you noticed how close the competitors' scores are during the Olympics? First and second place in the Men's 200 Meter Dash were separated by .32 of a second. The fourth place runner missed a medal by .01 in that same race. There are similar examples in other races and sports. The American lady gymnasts won Gold by the biggest margin in more than 50 years: five points. There were headlines about the Russians falling apart, making countless errors, and leaving in tears. Only five points separated the second-place tears of sorrow from the first-place tears of joy.

Life outside of the Olympics can be like that too.

When competitors have the same basic skills, the victory often goes to the one with the better attitude, stronger character, or greater perseverance. Little things we do separate winners from losers. All-In people are aware of the little things that matter. All-In people give the little extra that takes them from ordinary to extraordinary.

Do you know what that means in your current position? If not, find out before your competitors do.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

An airline does something right--alert the media!

When Alex Sullivan's family in New York learned of his death in Aurora, Colorado last week, they all wanted to be together as soon as possible.

The cost of 25 last-minute tickets from New York to Colorado would have been a hardship for many of Alex's family. When Alex's cousin, Steve Schwab, was making the travel arrangements with United Airlines and told the ticket agent the reason for the flights, the ticket agent offered to help. With the help of donations from their local community and from United Airlines, which provided free round-trip tickets for the whole family, the big family is together this weekend.

Another of Alex's cousins said, "This shows what this country is made of. for all of us to see that's how this country operates is amazing."

I'm sharing the story because it is amazing that an airline stepped up to help. We usually hear stories about airlines losing luggage, trapping customers on planes for ten hours, or having delays that cause us to miss events. A giant in an industry that gets a well-deserved bad rap did a great thing by helping that family this week.

Way to go United Airlines. Way to be All-In!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

All-In companies of the week: Colorado Hospitals

Nearly sixty people were injured by the gunman during last week's movie theater shooting, and many will face staggering bills for their medical care. To ease the financial burden of the attack, several hospitals involved are taking measures to reduce or eliminate the victims' costs. For taking the initiative to help the families affected, the All-In companies of the week are Children's Hospital Colorado and HealthONE, the health-care system which includes the Medical Center of Aurora and Swedish Medical Center.

In discussions with friends and colleagues about the health care, we reasonably assumed the victims would have to sue somebody (the theater perhaps?) just to have the money to pay their exorbitant medical bills. We thought they would have scars from the shooting, their injuries, the health care system and the legal system. We're glad to be wrong!

Kudos and thank you to Children's Hospital Colorado and HealthONE for stepping up. The video from CNN gives more details:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Chick-fil-A fails to live its corporate purpose

I like companies who stand by their values. I seek them out to learn about them, meet their leaders, understand their cultures, and identify how other companies could emulate them. Chick-fil-A has been a company I've admired because it openly expresses and endorses Christian values. In a time when most companies turn themselves inside-out to be politically correct, Chick-fil-A does not. They proclaim their Christian values loudly and proudly. I've referred to them as being All-In many times in presentations. 

But, has their outward Christian appearance been a ruse? Do the Christian values genuinely matter, or is the chain really just focused on the chicken change? The chain's response to the current controversy will shed light on the answers to those questions.

The controversy began last Monday, July 16, 2012, when the Baptist Press posted an article about Chick-fil-A's culture. Dan Cathy, president and chief operating officer of the $4 billion fast food chicken chain, emphasized the company's fervent dedication to its Bible-based values. In the article, Cathy answered questions about being closed on Sundays, if success is tied to the biblical foundation, and its support of the traditional family. His flippant comments about the last topic caused the stir among supporters of gay marriage.

The article was picked up by bigger media outlets across the country, and word spread within a week about how outspoken the COO was regarding traditional family. The Jim Hensen Company responded by immediately removing the muppets as a partner of the chain. (Edit--There has been much publicized support for the COO's comments too--it's not all negative.)

At first, I thought what he said was not surprising considering the history of the company and how open it is about its Bible-basis. A southern company based on the Bible favors traditional marriage over gay marriage--not surprising, not noteworthy. 

What is a disappointing surprise is how opposite the company's actions are with regard to its corporate purpose. Cathy said the corporate purpose is to "glorify God and be a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and have a positive influence on all that come in contact with Chick-fil-A."

It turns out, Chick-fil-A does not care to have a positive influence on all that come in contact with it. The company does not simply support traditional family values, it reportedly actively campaigns against nontraditional families and gay people. There are reports of millions of dollars in donations from the company toward anti-gay groups. 

Cathy's comments and Chick-fil-A's dedication toward the anti-gay movement are not aligned with the stated corporate purpose. Clearly, they are not concerned with "all that come in contact with Chick-fil-A." He and the company are concerned with all non-gay people who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.

Cathy said, "...thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles." Someone check the good book, but I'm pretty sure the most important Bible principle is about loving God. Isn't the second one about loving your neighbor? I'm starting to wonder if the chicken chief's company is just pandering to the Bible-loving south by openly proclaiming it is based on Christian values but only living by the ones it finds convenient.

Please note, I don't care whether the company is in favor of traditional marriage. I care that they proclaim to be one thing but are showing they are something else. That's it. My issue has nothing to do with sexuality, marriage, or religion. My issue is with honesty, with Chick-fil-A's behavior (including the COO's flippant attitude) and purpose being out of alignment, and with the company invoking Christian values while supporting groups opposed to them.

I like companies who stand by their values. I just won't be using Chick-fil-A as an example of one any more.

I wonder how KFC and the other chicken chains will respond to the Chick-fil-A controversy? I'd advise them to beef up their customer service training, keep their restaurants clean, and not say a word about the gays. After all, actions speak louder than words. I think that's in the Bible somewhere too.

Monday, July 23, 2012

All-In at work and play

Greetings All! I'm officially back to work after two weeks off for my wedding. We had a wonderful wedding weekend--full of love and loved ones. I was a first-time bride over forty and jotted down 10 strategies younger brides might like to know. We will return to regular business-related All-In posts tomorrow.

Top 10 Wedding Success Strategies
From a first-time bride over forty
By Kelly Tyler Byrnes
July 20, 2012

I usually blog and write about how people and companies can be All-In and the impact being All-In has on results. This summer, the All-In philosophy was on my mind as I planned the wedding weekend for Bob and me. While my husband-to-be was more interested and involved than some grooms, he appreciated my eagerness to put my planning skills to good use. I kept the All-In mindset as I planned the weekend and continued working until two days before the wedding, and it paid off.

I frequently plan meetings and speak at events, so planning something so personal and fun was exciting. Bob and I discussed our theme and decided on Simple, Elegant, Joy. We agreed right away that we would focus on the love we have for each other and for our guests. We wanted to enjoy the engagement and planning process—we wanted to be All-In! We wanted to make it as stress-free as possible for both of us, and focusing on the love made the planning easy.

The planning also was made easy by paying for all events ourselves, which meant we were not required to ask for permission or advice from anyone else. My parents were involved in some of the decisions because we appreciate their perspective, but we had the freedom to gracefully accept their input then decide ourselves. Consider including a few very close family members and friends in the planning process to reduce the pressure of decision-making and to increase the guests’ enjoyment.

Younger brides in a different financial situation might welcome financial and planning input from their parents. When the parents pay, the wedding is hosted by them and they reasonably expect to have input into most of the decisions. Accept their generosity with respect and grace, just as you would any gift. And, expect to include them in key decisions. Clarifying expectations in advance can reduce the pressure you feel throughout the process. It also can help reduce tension caused by different opinions. Anything you can do in advance to make the process go smoothly is worthwhile.

The third thing that made planning relatively easy is that I did not have my heart set on certain items. Unlike most brides, I had not been dreaming of my wedding my whole life. Since I did not have a wedding pre-planned in my head, I could make decisions easily without disappointment. For example, I did not have my heart set on a certain venue. Sure, there were a few places I really liked, but I was fine when they were deemed inconvenient for our guests or beyond our budget. Brides who want what they have dreamt of their whole lives set themselves up for disappointment—and bridezilla personality disorder. If you have a dream wedding, identify your priorities with your groom, so you can respond effectively when changes to your dream are required.

Although I did not have a dream wedding in mind when we were engaged, I had the wedding of my dreams and enjoyed all of the steps along the route to the altar. Our wedding was the happiest hour of my whole life, and it began with our engagement.

My beau of five years proposed to me on December 23, 2011. It was fun seeing friends and acquaintances over the holidays and answering queries of “What’s new?” with real news, “I’m engaged!” As a first-time bride over 40, it was fun seeing the excitement on people’s faces. I started to notice the difference in how people responded to my engagement versus my younger friends’ engagements within a few days. The differences became more evident throughout the planning of the wedding weekend as my groom and I met with various wedding industry professionals, vendors, and suppliers. Some of them liked me a lot, but others did not.

I suspect those who did not like me felt that way because I did not buy in to the wedding industry’s exaggeration of the wedding day into “my one special day.” For one thing, it was not only “my” day. Secondly, it was not going to be my “one” time to feel special.

When they started in with things like, “You should choose whatever flowers you want because it’s your special day…” or “You should have it at any venue you want because it is your special day…” or “Everyone in your family will do what you want because it is your special day!”, I resisted rolling my eyes but dismissed the notion of my wedding day being my one special day.

I am over 40 years old. I have had special days before, and I live in such a manner to have many more. My wedding day was to be another one—not the only one. The wedding industry puts too much pressure on that one day. They, along with well-meaning loved ones, make the bride the center of attention and enable her self-centered attitude. They expect her to be self-centered, so most young brides go along with it. It’s almost like a woman gets a pass at manners, courtesy, and respect because she is a bride. I didn’t buy in to that.

The vendors we chose to work with for our wedding weekend were those who liked us and our mature mindsets. We worked with wedding industry professionals who believed our budget, created joy-filled events instead of theatrical productions, and wanted to have fun throughout the whole journey to the altar and beyond.

We planned a Catholic mass and hotel dinner-dance reception for Friday, and we hosted a casual BBQ dinner at our home for Saturday. All events were spectacular!

No dream-defying glitches. No embarrassing bridezilla-like behavior. No budget overages.

Our wedding weekend was full of love. Our guests loved us and we loved them—and the feelings remained strong before, during, and after the wedding weekend.

Since the reaction to this first-time bride over 40 was so different, I pondered the most important strategies other brides might want to employ so their weddings are as lovely and loving as ours. I hope these strategies help brides enjoy the planning of their weddings, so they are relaxed and ready for their marriages.

1.      Pick the right groom so you are not worried about the marriage or being a wife. I used to fear that I would have a gut feeling that I was marrying the wrong guy as I waited in the back of church to walk down the aisle. Several years ago, a friend told me she had that feeling and knew deep down that she should not be marrying the man. She went ahead with it because it was her one special day, and they divorced a few years later when their daughter was a baby. I did not want to have that feeling, so I made sure in advance of the engagement that Bob was the man I wanted to be married to. Don’t look for the man you want to have a wedding with. If you pick the man you want to be your husband, not just your groom, you’ll remove one possible area of angst for your wedding.

2.      Spend more time planning your marriage than the wedding. Discuss your lives, health, financials, careers, families, religions, household operations, goals, fears, and ideals often. Discuss them prior to becoming engaged and during the wedding planning process. Keep the focus on your marriage and don’t let the wedding become bigger than the marriage. You might think it’s more fun to talk about the ring, flowers, music, or cake, but it will be more important to talk about your lives together. Doing so will eliminate the angst that comes after the wedding when life gets back to normal.

3.      Keep the day in perspective. I’ve already discussed my belief that a wedding day is very special, but it is not the one day in your life to be special. Live your life so you have many special days, and remember to do so during the planning process. Do not accept the industry’s pass on manners and grace. Do not succumb to the bridezilla personality disorder. Your wedding day is very special, and throughout your life you will have many special days, not just one.

4.      Keep the Princess Complex in check. Frankly, if you think you should play the role of a princess on your wedding day, you might not be mature enough to be a wife yet. Mature, grown adult women are comfortable in their own skin and with their real lives, and they do not pretend to be princesses like five-year-old girls. Even if your loving parents or others call you a princess, remember, you are not really one, so expect your bridesmaids, vendors, and guests to treat you in accordance with who you are in real life. This is your wedding, when you are committing yourself to your husband. It is not Halloween, when you are playing dress-up with your little friends. Take the pressure off the day, so if there are glitches, they do not ruin your day. Take the pressure off the day, so you still have friends throughout the process. Take the pressure off the day, so you’re not shocked when no one is talking about your wedding 48 hours after it ends.

(Slightly off-topic…Our deejay asked for a short list of songs that should not be played at the reception under any circumstances. I felt like my do-not-play list put her in a tough situation if someone requested one of the songs on it. So, when I told her a list of songs we dislike, I also told her there was nothing she could play that would ruin the reception or the day. She remarked that many brides do not feel the same way and would be in a rage or in tears if she played a song on the do-not-play list, even if a guest requested it. Take the pressure off the day, and song choice won’t ruin it.)

5.      Expect a post-wedding letdown. After all the weeks/months planning, the wedding events go by quickly and within 48 hours everyone’s lives return to normal. You still have ends to tie up (paying all the vendors, writing thank you notes, putting away gifts), but no one else does. Sure, it’s okay to ask about their experiences—it’s fun to hear stories you weren’t aware of—but, don’t expect them to want to talk about your wedding nonstop.

6.      Respect your guests’ lives, finances, and schedules. Your guests love you, but they also have lives of their own. Be respectful of them during the planning process. For example, keep the bridesmaid dresses reasonably priced so they are not a financial burden on your friends. If they all can easily afford $250 satin, purple-zebra-print one-shoulder gowns with bows on the derrieres, then by all means, pick a dress like that. If they are of different financial means, limit your choice to something they can afford easily.

For our wedding, we chose a hotel ballroom as our reception venue primarily because there were guests who would appreciate minimal driving in a city new to them and others who would appreciate going up to their rooms early (with kids or for health reasons). Our venue’s restaurant is well known as one of Kansas City’s best. Guests raved about the meal and convenience. They appreciated our consideration of them, which also might have influenced more of them to attend. 

(Slightly off-topic…Your wedding vendors have lives too. They are not your servants. They are running businesses and need to be mindful of their finances and schedules, just as you do. Our photographer called me the night before the ceremony to see if she could send someone else for the first hour of our allotted time. She was just given the chance to photograph another event that could lead to additional business for her, and she hoped I would enable her to work both events. While I could have stuck to our agreement, it felt better to agree with the new plan. The substitute person was very professional, fun to work with, and did a great job. When our photographer arrived, she was happy and ready to take over the rest of the day. She had a life outside of my wedding, just as the DJ, hotel point person, chef, servers, church coordinator, and guests do.)

Remember, your guests love you but they have lives too. Your wedding is important to them but so is what they have going on in their lives. Be as interested in them during your engagement as you would like them to be about your wedding.

7.      Include as many people as possible in the events. We included 36 loved ones in our wedding mass. We each had just one person stand up with us, and the rest had various roles during the mass. We also listed the names of the military veterans present during the prayers of the faithful and had all deceased family members listed on a prayer card (there were too many to read aloud during the mass). Including so many people made the wedding very personal to all who attended, and it made it more special for us. Our wedding was full of love because our loved ones were in it.

8.      Decline invitations to add more errands to your schedule. Unless you have a lot of free time or help from others, resist the urge to add errands. Everyone has ideas for weddings. Since most people go to them and have been in them, they like offering suggestions. As a busy professional, I did not have time to interview five deejays, all six florists my friends like, and ten favorite venues across town. I picked two of each to meet with and made the decisions based on those two. If there was an opportunity to say “no” to another errand, I took it. For example, I picked the guest book Hobby Lobby had rather than run to other stores to see if there was one I liked better. When friends suggested various guest favors, I resisted the urge to spend hours driving around town to get items needed and put them together. Our guests were coming to our home the next day, so favors were not needed. In some circles, guest favors are considered tacky and unnecessary—I went with that philosophy. Whether you have favors or not, manage errands efficiently so they don’t waste your time. 

(Slightly off-topic…Be respectful of your mother’s and friends’ time if you’re lucky enough to have them helping you. Don’t expect them to run all over town on your whims. If you forget that one, refer back to #4: you are not a princess. Besides, if you were a princess, that would make your mom the queen. Treat her respectfully and show your appreciation for her help.)

9.      Determine your wedding priorities in advance. Discuss them with your groom and come to agreement on everything from the style, theme, budget, approximate guest count, wedding party count, music style, ceremony style in advance. You’ll fine-tune as planning proceeds, but agreeing on these items in advance helps ensure the wedding is in line with your personalities, lives, families, and budgets.

10.  Determine a budget and stick with it. This is your wedding. It is not a reflection of your wealth, your parents’ wealth, or how much your parents love you. Determine a reasonable budget you, your groom, and all who are paying can manage. Please do not put a financial burden on your parents. If they manage to live a comfortable life, don’t ruin that by expecting them to take on $50,000, $25,000, or even $10,000 debt for your wedding. Even if they say you can do whatever you want, choose wisely. Choose venues, flowers, attire, music, etc. as if you were paying for it yourself—after all, if you would not buy it, why should your parents? They will respect you more if you do not allow them to take on debt for your wedding. They also will respect you and your groom if you resist the temptation to go in to debt yourselves for this one day. Your guests are your loved ones. They will judge you for who you are, not for how much you spent on flowers, cakes, favors, or a venue with a view. Determine a budget and stick with it, regardless of what vendors pressure you in to. We did, so I know it can be done. 

(Slightly off-topic…select vendors who respect your budget. We worked with people who respected our goal to have a simple, elegant wedding within a certain budget. Since we chose vendors who respected the budget, we trusted them and saw them as partners in our events. All of us enjoyed the events because we were in on it together.)

I hope brides who read this benefit by having weddings full of love, not angst. May all of your marriages be as successful and full of love as your wedding day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Facebook's obvious disregard for stakeholders

Companies today seek to align their focus on all five of their stakeholders in order to position themselves for long-term competitive advantage.

Facebook, however, appears to be disinterested in stakeholder alignment.

You've already heard about, or have been involved in, Facebook's IPO debacle. Some fault for that fiasco rests outside of Facebook, but much of it rests inside. In mid-May, the stock was expected to trade at $38. It was higher than that for a short time on opening day but has been nowhere near $38 since. The stock has risen in the last two weeks, closing yesterday at $32.06, down 16% from IPO price. However, even as the stock trends upward, Facebook and its investment banks are being sued by dozens of shareholders who allege that financial forecasts for Facebook were cut prior to the IPO but the change was not publicized. 

Facebook contends it did nothing illegal with regard to changing its forecasts or how it announced the changes. Companies truly concerned with stakeholder alignment care when their stakeholders, including shareholders, are angry and feel cheated. Facebook has shown it does not care, as long as what it did was legal. Shareholders don't care much about the touchy-feely side of business, as long as they are making money. However, since they are obviously not making money, they will scrutinize (and sue!) Facebook until they are compensated and do not feel duped.

Duped investors are not the foundation of long-term success. 

On to the next action that shows Facebook's blatant disregard for its stakeholders...

Yesterday, Facebook changed its users/customers' email addresses to the ones Facebook created for them. In 2010, Facebook introduced its own email service but it was not widely used. Yesterday, without any notification to its users, Facebook changed users' profiles to have their Facebook-created-whether-you-want-it-or-not email address as the primary email on the account. They did not change the way they reach users, just the way users could reach each other.

Facebook's customers do not want another email account and they certainly do not want Facebook changing their accounts without notification. In response to the outrage yesterday, Facebook did not explain or even admit to altering the default account settings. Facebook has made similar changes to accounts without notification. They continue to show lack of respect for their customers.

What Facebook should recognize is: they need its stakeholders more than we need Facebook.

Investors can make money elsewhere and users can be in touch with friends on other sites, and most are. If Facebook continues to show disregard for its investors and users, two primary stakeholders, they will erode the trust necessary for long-term sustainability. If Facebook continues to dupe investors and users, another social site can take its place. Get ready, that's what is likely to happen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Nine Nanas give new meaning to the term "drive-by"

It just doesn't get more All-In than this! There's no need for me to rewrite an already lovely story. Please click the link below and enjoy proof that the world is good. When it's more common to hear about crimes and mistakes, this story will remind you of the good business leaders.

It Ain't Over: The Business 9 Women Kept A Secret For Three Decades

How the Nine Nanas are All-In: 
  1. They kept it a secret for more than 30 years--doing good without seeking credit 
  2. Now that the secret is out, they've invited others in, instead of keeping the credit to themselves " 
  3. They seek opportunities to make others happy (All-In strategy #3: Notice Others) 
  4. They trade jobs, depending on who feels like doing what--no egos tied to the jobs! 
  5. They work as a team united in one goal: to make others happy 

How could you bring a little of the Nine Nanas to your workplace? (Well, you could start by ordering their pound cake from the site below. Have it delivered to the office and use the opportunity to tell your team about these remarkable women.)

Imagine a workplace full of selfless people united in one goal. It can be done!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Killing your customers is bad for business

Aftermath of the rental car crash in which two sisters died
More than two years ago, a story about two sisters killed because their Enterprise rental car had been recalled but had not been repaired was in the news. A jury awarded the girls' family $15 million. Enterprise, the nation's largest rental car company, suffered a brief blow to their public relations when the award was publicized but the death of the two girls did not prompt changes to rental car company practices.

They still rent and sell cars without fixing safety recalls. 

What kind of corporate culture exists within the rental companies that continue to rent unsafe cars? 

When companies are willing to risk the lives of their customers, the message is clear: your money is more valuable than your life. How long can companies who risk their customers' lives stay in business? How long will people continue doing business with companies that show such disrespect and lack of trustworthiness?

If they are willing to risk the lives of their customers, what do you think their internal corporate culture is like? It would be reasonable to infer lack of respect for employees is inherent in those cultures too.

This is an example of companies putting one stakeholder--investors--above the rest. Customers have died, yet significant changes have not taken place in the industry. 

There is something wrong with an industry that refuses to keep its customers safe. There is something wrong with companies who refuse to honor safety recalls until their customers find out about it. At some point, customer trust will be eroded beyond repair. Where will the industry be then? Which companies will remain?

Senator Boxer is asking the rental car companies to pledge "a permanent commitment to not rent out or sell any vehicles under safety recall until the defect has been remedied." Hertz agreed to sign the Senator's pledge but other companies have not. Enterprise has not, saying they already have such a practice in place (but it allows for the sale of unrepaired cars to be sold wholesale). No word yet on whether Avis or Dollar Thrifty will join the pledge.  (SOURCE: USAToday article)

Senator Boxer is drafting legislation to force the rental car companies to repair cars recalled for safety. That such legislation is needed is pitiful.

Customer lives don't matter to some of the companies, but their wallets do. 

What can you do?
  1. Find out your rental car company's policy on safety recalls. If they do not honor the recalls, switch.
  2. If your employer rents from one that does not honor recalls, switch. 
  3. If you are responsible for your employer's selection of a rental car company, investigate this immediately. You may be inadvertently putting your coworkers at risk, and the company along with it. 
  4. Spread the word about this issue to frequent traveling friends and colleagues. They might assume rental cars are repaired and would appreciate learning the truth.
  5. If you work in one of the companies, address this internally. Assess the culture of distrust created and work to rebuild trust with your customers and employees. Realign the focus on all stakeholders, not just investors. Investors won't be happy when customers refuse to trust you, so realigning focus will benefit all stakeholders.
As an employee and customer, put your money where your trust is by showing the rental car companies that killing customers is bad for business.

If your company needs help with stakeholder alignment, please call Kelly Tyler. She will share a diagnostic tool to aid your effort and could save the company from losing customers, employees, and investors.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Challenges reveal character of individuals and teams

They say challenges build character. I have often said that challenges reveal character too. When faced with a challenge you find out what you're really made of. When a team faces a challenge, it finds out what it's made of too. 

When obstacles are in front of your workplace, department, or teams, what is the response? Do people rally together quickly and vow to beat the barrier to success? Or do you see more time spent on blaming others for causing the obstacles? Or, are there excuses? Blame and excuses keep people and teams stagnant--with no chance of rising above any challenges.

As a teammate or team leader, you play a part in getting the team to beat the challenge.

A terrific example was on Good Morning America early today. Watch how this team, who works closely every day on live television, handled a major life challenge. What does your team have in common with this one? Would your teammates rally like this?

Not many would.

The teams that reach this level of emotional connection, respect, and trust are All-In. They are the ones that will be most successful. What part do you play as the teammate or team leader?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Kids epitomize the All-In way

There are so many examples of what All-In looks like in this clip. The runner, his family, the teacher, the adults, his classmates. They gave Matt, the runner, a special moment he can remember forever. For a brief time in his life, he had everyone behind him--literally!

Matt did something for everyone else too. He showed perseverance, determination, and grace. He gave the whole group an opportunity to unite and cheer.

Imagine a company where this type of energy exists every day. Imagine a corporate culture full of All-In people. It can happen when the opportunity for it exists.

Enjoy this clip...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wall Street's gibberish no longer tolerated

Wall Street companies who rely on public trust (and money!) better realize their acronyms, fancy words, and gibberish are no longer being tolerated. Their corporate cultures need to change.

The latest evidence that Wall Street corporate cultures are no longer being tolerated is the investigations and lawsuits launched after last week's Facebook IPO fiasco.

The public is interested to learn how Morgan Stanley made money off the deal by "short trades". The public is interested to learn how the banks involved kept lowered growth expectations from some investors, while at the same time promoting the stock to those same people. The public is interested to learn whether legal and ethical lines were crossed.

Facebook and Morgan Stanley are the latest companies facing scrutiny. Others include Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, which have been in the news for less than stellar reasons this year.

Gone are the days when high-powered men in suits could seemingly pat the public on the head and tell it to run along like a little child. The public wants answers and is not going to tolerate the patronizing arrogance of Wall Street any longer.

With so much money rolling in, why should Wall Street firms care what the public wants?

Because the public includes investors and customers.

The public includes the Baby Boom generation who wants to invest in companies they believe in and Gen Y who wants to work for companies they believe in. Also, the public is slowly starting to recognize the importance of long-term sustainability over a short-term snapshot. We're not impressed with one good quarter now and then. 

Narrowly skipping along the thin line of ethical behavior is not going to cut it for the public any longer.

The firms that align their behavior with all of their stakeholders, not just their stockholders, will not need to worry about the pressures from the public. They will speak in plain terms people understand because they don't need to hide behind gibberish.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A corporate culture founded in doggie doo

If the president of a company is the type of person who would leave a bag of dog poo in his neighbor's mailbox, what kind of leader do you think he is? With a leader like him, what kind of corporate culture do you think he supported?

Bob Furnad, former president of CNN Headline News, was captured on video last weekend leaving a bag of his dog's poo in his neighbors' mail box. Mr. Furnad admitted leaving the bag. "This was an immature act in response to years of malicious rumor mongering that I consider defamation of character," Mr. Furnad told the local Georgia newspaper.

The neighbors have said they haven't even spoken with Mr. Furnad in years and don't know why he would leave the poo in their mailbox. They said there is no feud. 

Mr. Furnad's immature behavior is unacceptable for a 70+ year old man, a corporate executive, a leader of any kind. What are the chances this was a one-time lapse of judgement, a rare lapse of maturity? I bet zero chance.

I wonder if Mr. Furnad was the type of leader who blamed others for his shortcomings, wallowed in mistakes, and failed to build valuable relationships. Would a leader who premeditates putting dog poo in his neighbors' mailbox foster a culture of accountability in which everyone was valued? Not likely.

If he would put poo in his neighbors' mailbox, chances are really good that he slung it around in the office too, although not literally of course. Or, perhaps literally.

Story on GMA

Monday, May 21, 2012

All-In Person of the Week: It's a lawyer!

A woman fell on to the tracks at a New York City subway station Saturday, and a 40-year old father of three jumped to her rescue. Greg Wetzel did not see the woman fall but was told she was stumbling prior to falling off the platform.

She lay unconscious as onlookers decided what to do. Mr. Wetzel, who was accompanied by his three young children as he approached the scene, jumped to the tracks and passed the woman to helpers on the platform. An emergency vehicle drove the woman to Roosevelt Hospital but her condition is unknown.

Mr. Wetzel is a lawyer for an aviation company.

It's one thing to be All-In in one's own life and as a parent, but to be so All-In as to jump to subway tracks to save a stranger is remarkable. And, rare.

Well done, Mr. Wetzel! You're the All-In person of the week!

(Source: http://gma.yahoo.com)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Corporations walk their talk and kick leaders to the curb

Now that Values are openly displayed on web sites, touted in advertisements, and posted on walls throughout corporate America, discrepancies between Values and behavior are noticed. Lately, it seems corporations are taking notice of their values and are trying to behave consistently.

Whether they like it or not, the web sites, advertisements, and posters are prompting many companies to be All-In.

Consider three current examples:

1. JPMorgan Chase admitted late last week that it experienced a $2 billion loss caused by, in its own words, sloppiness and bad judgment.

One PR model often followed in similar embarrassing, costly circumstances is to deny, downplay, then barely acknowledge and reluctantly fire a few people (a la Goldman Sachs). In response to its exorbitant losses, 

JPMorgan Chase went public before news leaked nationwide, started the CEO apology tour quickly, and accepted resignations or fired people involved. Their behavior is interesting because their Values Statement reads:  Our values are reflected in the way that we conduct our business and in the first-class results that we consistently achieve for our clients.

2. Best Buy's CEO, Brian Dunn, resigned in April for undisclosed personal reasons (All-In blog post). The reasons were disclosed yesterday: he had an extremely close relationship with a female coworker, and it affected the workplace. In light of that disclosure, Best Buy's Chairman resigned yesterday because he knew about the relationship. On its web site, one of Best Buy's values is to "Show respect, humility and integrity." At least in the midst of disrespect and lack of integrity, the company is showing some of both this week.

3. Yahoo's CEO, Scott Thompson, was lambasted the ten days, including here, for lying on his resume for years. When the lie became public ten days ago, the former CEO downplayed the lie and only acknowledged the distraction it had become for the employees. However, others took the lie more seriously. The executive who led the hiring process of Thompson, who began work at Yahoo in January, was let go, along with others. Yahoo's values include: We are committed to winning with integrity.The CEO was not committed to the same thing, and he is out.

 Clearly, living by their internal values has been difficult, embarrassing, and humbling for JPMorgan Chase, Best Buy, and Yahoo. Even when they are not perfect, all of their stakeholders can see they are trying to behave the way their values determine. Now when the executives of those companies ask for first-class conduct, respect, and integrity, they are role models for their corporate culture because they are walking the talk, and web sited, advertisements, and posters

Thursday, May 10, 2012

All-In janitor graduates with honors from Columbia

Janitor Gac Filipaj has spent nearly twenty years on Columbia University's campus and earns his Bachelors degree this week. Congratulations to another well-educated All-In Person of the Week!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A CEO's minor lie is major to employees

Four days ago it became public and blogged about here that Yahoo's new CEO, Scott Thompson, had lied on his resume. He lists an accounting and computer science degree, when he has only an accounting degree.

I blogged about it Friday because of the impact on corporate culture, and several people protested because the lie was so minor and didn't matter. So minor, they insisted, it shouldn't even be called a lie but an oversight.

Late yesterday, the CEO apologized for the distraction the lie had caused. He did not apologize for the lie itself or explain how it had been perpetuated throughout his hiring or previous employers. In the memo obtained by CNN, Thompson says, "I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you." (Source: cnn.com)

Whether you call it a lie or an inadvertent oversight, or any other name, the issue, its cause, and its management have become major to the employees. 

From cnn.com: A senior Yahoo executive, who spoke to CNN on the condition that his name not be used, said: "Thompson has quickly lost the confidence of many employees, who think he has to go."

Managers and executives often underestimate the impact their actions have on the people around them. When you need your people to unite as a team to move a company forward, they need you to be truthful. They will notice if you're not, and the corporate culture will be impacted.

(Article at cnn.com)

What do you think? 
Would you care if your company leaders lied in a similar way?

May 13, 2012:
Yahoo confirmed late today that it's CEO, Scott Thompson, left the company as a result of the padded resume.
Article on cnn.com

Monday, May 7, 2012

All-In Person of the Week: Dr. Shaq

You know those soda commercials featuring celebrities with Doctor nicknames like Dr. Dre? Former NBA star Shaquille O'Neal could star in one of those now, but he can use Doctor legitimately.

Over the weekend Shaquille O'Neal earned a doctorate in education from Florida's Barry University, a private Catholic school.

Just to confirm: it is not an honorary degree. His GPA is above a 3.8, and he adds the doctorate to his BA and MBA. Next up: a law degree.

Congratulations to Dr. O'Neal, All-In Person of the Week!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sprint's Hesse makes a rare move

This blog called out Sprint's CEO, Dan Hesse, on March 27, 2012 for being overcompensated. As a former employee, current customer, and current stockholder, I was appalled at exorbitant Hesse's salary increase in light of the company's financial losses. Apparently I was not alone.

Yesterday, Mr. Hesse sent a letter to the company detailing that he will forgo $3.25 million over the next two years. In a startling move that made me gasp for air, he also is going to return nearly $350k received last year. The adjustments are related to the accounting of the iPhone. (For specifics, read the article in today's Kansas City Star.)

Congratulations, Mr. Hesse. I applaud you for listening to your shareholders and for doing the right thing for your employees as it relates to their bonuses. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

How a CEO's padded resume impacts its corporate culture

Late last night, it became public that Yahoo's CEO Scott Thompson padded his resume by claiming to have a Bachelor's degree in accounting and computer science from Stonehill College. Stonehill, a small Roman Catholic college in Massachusetts, also confirmed to CNNMoney that Thompson's only degree is in accounting. (SOURCE: CNNMONEY.COM)

The lie has been on Thompson's bio on Yahoo's site and on past employer's sites including Pay Pal and Ebay. It is a lie Thompson kept up for years, but let's assume none of the employers deliberately perpetuated his lie. 

Now that Yahoo knows about the lie, it's first response was something along the lines of, "Well, he's a great worker, so his degree doesn't matter. If he turns the company around, his degree won't matter."

First of all, it is highly doubtful they would have a similar response when finding out a project manager's resume included a lie of that nature.

Secondly, Yahoo is supposed to be an expert in searches, Considering they missed this big lie on their own CEO's resume, just how good are they at searches anyway? The company's failure to uncover the truth about their own CEO leads to a reasonable assumption that they are not good at what they do. 

Third, Yahoo has had internal issues and performance issues for a long time and this error, along with the response, is no surprise to anyone who follows the company. The company is hanging on by a thread and desperate times call for desperate measures (like not confirming easily whether a new executive is a liar).

Fourth, Yahoo missing the facts about Thompson's degree and the fact that he does not have a Computer Science education are less relevant today than the fact that he lied for years about it. Of course he's learned enough about computer science over the years to make up for the lack of degree in that area. And, perhaps it is reasonable for a major corporation not to verify degrees (although none I know of let that slide these days). What is intolerable is the lie and the perpetuation of the lie. If Yahoo overlooks the long-term lie, it sends the message that it's a company not to trust.

When a company makes an error like this and responds so cavalierly, its customers, investors, and employees notice. So far, the leaders are saying the lie is okay, and the message is being heard loud and clear by all of its stakeholders. The culture of distrust will make it even harder for Thompson to turn Yahoo around now.

(Article source:  Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson caught padding his resume)

What do you think? Does the lie matter?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

You are invited to join the All-In Movement™

The All-In Movement™ will be more of a Movement when more people join in and share. There's more to living and leading All-In than what one person has to say or experience, so join in by sharing. 

Often, the most important people in a Movement are not those who start but those who join in. This is one of my favorite examples: The formation of a Movement.

You're here because you are living and leading All-In already, so join the Movement by participating. Consider this your formal invitation. Come one! Come all! Come to be All-In!

Friday, April 20, 2012

All-In Person of the Week: Pat Summit

"My parents taught me a long time ago that you win in life with people. And that's important, because if you hang with winners, you stand a great chance of being a winner."  No one in college sports knows more about winning than Coach Pat Summit. She is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball--male or female.

She won eight national championships as the women's head coach at the University of Tennessee, 16 regular-season Southeastern Conference championships and 16 SEC tournament titles.

During her tenure as Head Coach, Tennessee never failed to reach the NCAA tournament, never received a seed lower than No. 5. Her teams reached the Final Four 18 times, which ties the UCLA and North Carolina men for the most all-time by a college basketball program.

Coach Summit never had a season with a losing record. Her teams won1,098 games and lost 208 for an impressive .840 average. Coach Summit knows about winning. She has surrounded herself with winners on her teams, and her teams have won big.

After 38 years as the Head Coach, this week Coach Summit became the team's Head Coach Emeritus. Later this year, she will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Coach Summit revealed last summer that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type. She has shown the same determination, attitude, and grace regarding her health as she has shown regarding the impact she's had on women's athletics.

Congratulations to Coach Pat Summit for being All-In on and off the basketball court.

(Sources: ESPN and UTladyvols.com)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Are your company leaders as All-In as Caine?

Look at his passion! His ingenuity! Attention to detail! Perseverance! Does your company show nearly as much excitement for what it does as Caine's Arcade? Not many people, company leaders, or companies are as All-In as Caine.

This video is about Caine Monroy, a nine-year old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade inside his dad’s auto parts store in East LA. Caine is about to have the best day of his life.

There are many business lessons to learn from this story:
  1. Caine is selfless. He built a business about something he is passionate about and wanted to share.
  2. Caine's attention to detail--he even climbs in boxes to send the winning tickets through--creates an ideal customer experience.
  3. Caine wants people to play the games. Don't you get the feeling sometimes that you're bothering people, even though you are the customer? Caine is disappointed his games go unplayed. He wants customers to have fun!
  4. Caine's pricing strategy is mind boggling. He gives a good deal--$2 for 500 plays--because he wants people to play. Caine's thought: let's price it to give customers more enjoyment. Other companies: let's price to get the most out of the customers as possible.
  5. People come for something good! Kudos to Nirvan Mullick, the filmmaker who happened by the store for a part for his car. Nirvan made a short video about Caine's Arcade and promoted the Arcade. Caine's authenticity, attention to detail, and likeability attracted Nirvan and all of the people who showed up to make his day. (Now, people are donating to his scholarship fund.)
What else could be learned from Caine's story and the way he built his business?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Best Buy: Time for a gut check

As if struggling to adapt to consumers' changing needs wasn't enough, today Best Buy's CEO resigned for "personal conduct" reasons. CEO Brian Dunn resigned today, according to The Wall Street Journal, citing "personal conduct" but no details of the conduct were provided.

During the recession, Best Buy won a highly public battle with Circuit City who filed bankruptcy and closed, but now it's losing an even bigger war with Apple. Best Buy is set to close 50 stores, grow its Geek Squad computer support business, and needs to revamp the consumer experience. Best Buy used to be the cool place  to buy electronics, but now it's a "showroom" and Apple wins the battle for cool.

To put it in perspective, Best Buy stores had operating income per square foot of $50.61 in 2006 and just five years later the income per square foot was $18.52 according to estimates by the retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners. By contrast, Apple's retail stores reaped an astronomical $4,700 per square foot last year, (From The Wall Street Journal)

Best Buy is hanging on for dear life, and now its CEO's resignation is likely to humiliate it further. This is a time of great opportunity for Best Buy, if it conducts an honest gut check. What are you made of, Best Buy? Great leaders, which Best Buy was once, are self-aware and adaptable. If it digs deep and finds out what's inside, Best Buy could overcome the embarrassing resignation, create a new customer experience, and position itself for a strong future.

After all, not everyone wants an Apple everything. There is room for competition, but Best Buy has to dig deep to remain part of the conversation. It's time for a gut check.

What do you think:  Can Best Buy make it?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Starbucks CEO takes the lead in stakeholder alignment

Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, made news late last year when he instigated a ban of campaign donations in this $6 billion campaign year. More than 150 CEOs joined Schultz in declining to donate to incumbents during the current campaign year.

Now, Schultz is working to put Americans back to work. He was on the CBS morning show to give a glimpse of the new program and Starbucks's actions to create more jobs.

Schultz describes the Create Jobs for USA Fund, Starbucks internal job creation actions, and the impact of aligned stakeholder focus on investors. (Hint: it's good!)

Later today, Google Offers and Banana Republic revealed their efforts in the Create Jobs for USA Fund. Schultz may be one of the leaders on the forefront of the stakeholder alignment movement. Where are you and your company leaders on that front? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CEO salaries should be related to performance, not Wall Street

It makes sense that the biggest paychecks would go to those who make the biggest decisions which impact the most people, especially when the decisions impact the long-term competitive position and viability of the company.

It does not make sense that those same decision-makers are rewarded gigantic raises ten times the regular employees' raises when the decisions result in 25% greater loss from one year to the next.

If an employee's performance yielded similar results, she would be fired. It does not make sense that CEOs with poor results get rewarded outlandish pay increases instead.

The latest was published in the Kansas City Star today with this headline: Sprint’s Hesse gets 31 percent pay boost as Overland Park carrier’s losses continue (article)

The article says Hesse's decisions led to a 25% bigger loss this year than last, and his decisions are not helping turn the company around. However, the stock price has gained 22% this year. It trades below $3. It shouldn't take much for it to get a 22% increase.

Is Hesse's raise tied to the stock price or to the company's overall performance?

It appears this is another example in which the CEO's performance is not measured or rewarded in the same manner as others'.

Why not? Furthermore, why would CEOs whose performance at one company fails be highly sought after at other companies? That makes no sense but it a topic for a different day.

Sprint is the largest private employer in Kansas City, so its CEO getting a significant raise makes news around town. So many people in the area have worked for Sprint, it almost always comes up in conversation. Sprint has laid off so many people over the years, they're one of the biggest causes of the regions growing entrepreneurs. They also are well known for their culture of mediocrity. In fact, the culture of mediocrity is so commonly known, some employers will not hire former Sprint employees because of it.

When the CEO's decisions have led to greater losses year after year, and no end is in sight, it is unreasonable to reward him. It is certainly unreasonable to reward him with millions of dollars while his fellow employees get no raises, layoffs, and bad reputations. Sure, Hesse won't have to work again, but if he wants to, he will land another highly lucrative gig. His Sprint coworkers, however, have difficulty landing great jobs in Kansas City because of the culture he fosters.

That is wrong and Hesse and his peers should have the integrity to hold themselves accountable for it.

Apparently, the only people who will hire employees with reputations of mediocrity and poor performance are Boards of Directors. If the CEOs and Boards won't hold themselves to a high standard of excellent performance, the employees and customers need to.

If Sprint were to cultivate a culture of integrity and excellence, Hesse could actually earn the salary and bonuses with integrity.

It is time for CEO pay to be aligned with company performance as it relates to all of its stakeholders, not just its stockholders. It is time for CEO pay to be based on results instead of short-term stock price fluctuations. It is time for CEO pay to be earned with integrity.

On a personal note...
I began my career with a division of Sprint, the publishing division. We published the phone directories, and, we loved it! The company made money, hired great people, grew at a reasonable pace, and fostered a culture of excellence. Many of us remain connected today, with annual reunions in the summer and around the holidays. I share that in the interest of full disclosure and also to show that not all Sprint is bad. Well, Sprint sold that division a while ago when it needed cash. But, it was great until then. I am a former employee who loved working for the division I was with, current customer who has had superb service, and stockholder who is unimpressed with a 22% increase.

What do you think?
Are you ready for CEOs' pay to be tied to performance?