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    Monday
    Jul302012

    Warning: The Age Gap is Growing

    I notice is when I go the grocery store, when I turn on the TV, or when I visit the mall.

    The term "young adult" is now inclusive of people up to the age of 30.  The demographic didn't change and the people followed, but rather the 26-year-old-I-live-with-my-parents-and-play-xbox-rent-free couldn't be lumped in with mortgage-paying-minivan-driving adults any more.

    We hear everyday that the population is aging at a fast-pace, as the baby boomers rapidly approach retirement.  The issues discussed day after day are always the same: workforce X is retiring and workforce Y (significantly smaller) is not picking up the torch with enough zeal.

    The truly unfortate issue is not that the baby booomers are aging, because that inevitable.  Rather, the "coming of age" experience is happening much later in life, as it is now socially acceptable to not grow up until you want to..which is obviously much different than the world that baby boomers and earlier grew up in.

    The social and economic consequences of this shift is massive, and in my opinion, not even really measurable until we have a full-scale problem on our hands.

    I know this is a pretty heavy post of a Monday morning...but it's OK...the people I'm talking about are still sleeping on their mom's couch right now...because...hey..they have no where to be!

    Thursday
    Jul192012

    The Pride of Humility

    Recently, Harvard Business Review posted an article entitled "Why Less Confident People Are More Successful."  Other than being a terrible title...I had some issues with what the article claimed.  Confidence is not a negative trait.  Example: A surgeon...working on your heart:

    less confidence = makes a mistake
    too much confidence = makes a mistake
    just enough confidence = performs well

    Yes, this is strikingly similar to Goldie Locks & the 3 bears...but it's true!  Confidence itself is not negative...it's over-confidence or misplaced confidence that is very problematic.  What the author should have stated was that the attribute of humility is critical to success.  But that's not new...Jim Collins' "Level 5 Leader" is bathed in humility.  The fact is, it's critical for leaders to demonstrate humility by listening, engaging and being committed to life-long learning in order for them to achieve and maintain professional (and personal) success.

    One of the issues I see with those that pump humility to extreme ends is the foundational pride that exists within the fabric of the conversation itself.  Many times, what is really being said is, "Be more humble...like me!" Unfortunately, humility on its own isn't enough...to do anything, but rather it's putting on humility as an attitude and characteristic while doing what you hope to accomplish.  In the case of the above named article, it's relating to employees and leading an organization.  Under the "it's all about humility" mindset...why get someone with skills, aptitude and drive...let's just find the most humble person we can...and put him as President of the United States...or CEO of General Motors...?

    Not a great idea.


    Humility does not mean you think less of yourself. it means you think of yourself less
    - Ken Blanchard

    When set to the right context, and applied with care, confidence is crucial to success.  I can't think of one person I know in any industry that has attained success at any significant level that did not maintain some form of confidence and self-assurance.  Goal-setting and delivering value are the fuel that fires confident and successful leaders, and if harnessed properly, an organization and thrive under their leadership.  Ambition and drive set to the right beat make music...but when out of sync create pure chaos.

     

    Monday
    Jul162012

    Reality vs. Expectations

    I recently read an article that discussed the importance of balancing stress, priorities and goals in your life.  The author stated that at the most common cause of stress is the gap between reality and expectations.

    While I completely agree with this, I would take it one step further, and state that at the core of most conflict or division is the same gap.  How many times to relationships fall to the curb because the expectations of one side were not met with the performance or reality of the other.  Colleagues at work, personal relationships, family...if we took a step back and aligned our expectations with the reality (or parameters/constraints) of the situation or person...how many broken-down relationships could've been rectified?

    Taking it to a deeper level, I cannot even count the number of times that the customer service of an organization has let me down.  Now please don't get me wrong, I am not saying we need to lower the expecations we have for companies and products...but I believe that we must do a better job at managing our disappointment and allowing the gap between expectations and reality to cause us to spiral out.

    I have posted this video before, but this clip of Louis CK his the nail right on the head.  Manage your expectations...deal with reality!

     

    Thursday
    Jul122012

    A Social Media "Cheat Sheet"

    If you know me, or follow me on any sort of regular basis...you know that I LOVE infographics.  I find that they are a clear and concise way of illustrating a point.  Below is a "Cheat Sheet" for understanding Social Media, that is helpful to those looking to break-in, and a resource for anyone looking to gain deeper understanding of the differences and benefits of most of the popular Social Media platforms.

    Tuesday
    Jul032012

    Strategic is Not a Trend

    In a world where things are hot today and gone tomorrow (like THIS or THIS), the concept of "trendspotting" has become "the thing to do," as if you can ride the wave up and hop off before it curls...you're a winner!

    You know it's big when Google has their own widget, and that's just what Google Trends is about.

    Similar to social or professional trends, there are loads of trendy words and phrases.  Uber, Organic, Outside-the-Box Thinking, Holistic...these words get used like they're on sale at WalMart, and yes...even I use them sometimes too often.

    One word that borders on "trendy" but if defined and excuted is anything but, is the word Strategic.

    Strategic Thinking, Business Coaching, Mission/Vision Development...the list goes on.  These are all areas that business consultants and business coaches have made millions off of packaging and re-selling to unsuspecting clients.  The difference (which can be difficult to pin down) is not as much on the what, as the "good" strategists use similar terms and excersizes as the "bad" ones...but rather it's in their process and more importantly the goals and objectives of the process itself.

    Let me explain.

    Anyone with a brain and an Organizational Behaviour 101 textbook can help you define your company's mission, vision, and core values.  It's getting past the "we promise to serve customers...deliver value" jargon and defining real, tangible, measureable goals for the company to live and breath.  It's no surprise that we are in the world we are in...

    The REAL test is if your staff, customers and suppliers can define your company's mission and vision without you telling them.

    For example: Joe's Diner is about quality food and a family-friendly atmosphere.  A customer knows that because they love the food and enjoy the family-type repour that they have with the staff.

    The fact is, we cannot afford to allow Strategy to become a trend.  The trend elements (i.e the poser consultant that charges you an arm and a leg to write a mission statement for you) will fade...the market is too smart for that...it's the deeper, life-long, steady-hand decision making that will remain.