Thoughts on the Final Four

No, this not my bracket update for the NCAA Tournament.  But I did pick Ohio State to be in the Final Four.  Enough on that…

What’s fascinating to me is that three teams, by Tuesday morning, will bitterly disappointed after coming so close only to lose.  Don’t shed a tear for them!  They are actually the luckiest of the group.  Why?  They will have the opportunity to learn and find something few do…clarity. 

According to our culture winning is everything and losing is…well…for losers.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating perpetual losing as a way of life.  Losing, and not repeatedly, is a great teacher in savoring wins.  Like it or not the losses will come in this life, and some of them will hurt deeply.  So why not gain the wisdom found inside the disappointment?

Check-out Mike Krzyzewski’s perspective on losing in the Tournament.

What Price for Fame?

800-CEO-READ paints a disturbing picture of book selling in their post "Everyone wants to be a bestseller."  Funny how we define winning…

Here are some things to think about as you seek to be a success:

  1. Who gave you the definition of success that you use today?  If it didn’t come from within, it could very well be a counterfeit.
  2. Why are you doing what you’re doing?  The answer will either inspire you or scare you to death.
  3. Who will benefit from your success?  If that list is small, then re-look at the previous question #2.
  4. How will the world change because of your success?
  5. Who will continue your success after you’re gone?

Motivations are everything…

Calling On the Hero Inside

Guy Kawasaki points us to heroism in his post "The Banality of Heroism".  Have you acted in a heroic way lately?  In a culture that constantly sends us messages about being entertained and catered to, it can be easy to relegate heroism to soldiers and doctors.  But it is clear that heroism is part of everyone’s DNA.  So what will you do with it?

A key part of an Epic life is heroism.  Think about the following:

  • Have you envisioned a better future?  In other words, your unique preferable future.
  • Have found something worth dying for?
  • Have you defined greatness as something you fit into?  Greatness is not reserved only for the learned, rich and famous.
  • Do you love people?  We’re all connected and cannot operate (successfully) alone.
  • Have you journeyed to the valley and returned better than before?

Cheers to American Express

This is an ode to American Express.

I have my business credit card with American Express.  The division is actually named "Open from American Express."  I’ve also been a personal cardmember for almost 15 years.  But as you probably know, mistakes happen…the kind where the consumer (me) is at fault.

Some weeks ago I took Amex up on an offer with Wine Spectator Magazine.  The offer gave me three years of Wine Spectator if I upgraded to a business gold card.  It took me all of two seconds to act.

The mistake I made was in missing the date due on the old card, which really was the new card.  Wham, $29 late fee for missing the payment by days.  OK, fair is fair…the date due is the date due.  I decided to call and ask for a waiver of the fee…

The guy I talked to, Jason I believe, was polite and seemed genuinely glad to speak with me.  After I relayed (I hope you’re still with me) my story, he took about 15 seconds to say "no problem we’ll take care of the fee for you Mr. Pennington."  Wow! Remarkable (obviously if I’m writing about it)!  Surprising!

Before you think this is normal for service providers, take a look at the following list of unnamed service providers who’ve made it hard (mistake or not) to do business with them:

  1. Multiple credit card companies…competitors of American Express.
  2. Furniture retailers
  3. National grocery store chains
  4. Regional automobile dealers
  5. Appliance manufacturers
  6. Regional banks

I could keep going, but cheers to American Express for being a true business partner.

Valuing Your Network

I found this post today from Tim Sander’s blog titled "Ping Your Network".  He hits a home run on valuing your network.  Whether looking for a career opportunity, selling a book or just encouraging in the moment it is well worth your time to reach out.

Here are some reasons we don’t stay connected to our valued networks:

  1. We think we’re alone in the universe.  How many times have you thought you’re the only one going through something?  If honest, we’d say a lot.
  2. We think we’re bothering others.  If you’re reaching out to take only, then you’re probably bugging people.  However, if you’re doing it to give and encourage, you might be surprised at how welcome your "ping" might be.
  3. We don’t understand the power of relationships.

Start today by seeking to give and connect…the successes will follow.

A Different Approach

800-CEO-READ has an interesting review of a new book entitled Firms of Endearment: How World-Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose.  There are some quality organizations profiled and the authors assert that these organizations hold in tight tension the desires of all stakeholders.  I don’t know if that’s truly possible, but you can’t argue with the results of a Whole Foods.

I admire any organization or individual that is driven by their purpose and passions.  Not only is it rare, but it is courageous.

Can you or your organization be successful pursuing these ends?

A Sense of Heart

Yesterday I met the most wonderful animal.  It was a horse…a race horse no less.  I’m not planning on investing in a race horse, but I would consider it based on the gift this fine creature gave me.

As of late, my blues have been the deepest hue of blue one could experience.  I will save those details for a different post and/or book.  My chance encounter was due to an unusually warm day in March yesterday.  We were above seventy and the sun was smiling on us.  My wife and kids really like horses, so we decided to visit a horse farm near where we live.  I went along as driver and spectator.  Little did I know…

The horse’s name was "Little Red" and a two-year old as well.  I was attracted to the horse’s auburn color…I guess the her name was fitting.  As I stroked the horse, it propped it’s head on my shoulder and stayed there for what seemed a lifetime.  It seemed to know the meaning behind every beat of my heart.  Inside I felt like I had met someone who understood…sensed my sadness.  See this article from VetMed Resource on horses and their emotional radar.

I have had other times in my life where not many have understood my steps.  Yesterday I felt that horse knew more about my state than any human on the planet.

Be open to accidents and what they may bring.

Just Be Nice

I know many out there are prescribing the cure for better customer service…I think that’s great because customer service really can be a contradiction in terms. 

Here’s my contribution to the discussion:

  1. Require all associates touching customers to "just be nice."  No matter the situation, no matter the personality of the customer…just be nice.  Organizations might be surprised at what affect this has on customers.
  2. Senior managers read the definition of accountability and go live it…enough said.
  3. There’s something about the golden rule that works.
  4. Organizations need to be honest and just let the customer know that the service sucks.  That way we’d be somewhat prepared.  Setting expectations is everything.
  5. Innovate and wow the customer like Apple does.  See their new store on DAP Review.

Engagement Again

Take a look at this post from The Engaging Brand blog.  I’m a believer in LinkedIn and what social networking can do, but Anna Farmery brings up some intriguing opportunities for organizations to use with their people.

Makes you think…what if:

  1. Social networking became the norm inside of organizations?
  2. Organizations would confront their fears of engagement.  Far too many are trapped in their policies and procedures?
  3. People used the power right in front of them-their network?
  4. Organizations would discard their dated approaches of finding and keeping talent?
  5. We embraced the wisdom of an Authentic Swing?

Guy Kawaski posted this some weeks ago on his own LinkedIn Profile Extreme Makeover.  Good tips…