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    Entries in Business (13)

    Tuesday
    Apr242012

    Discernment is Decisive

    It's more than just knowing what to do and when to do it...discernment is the ability to judge well.  I find that my capacity to judge is rarely impaired, but the ability to judge WELL is in fact a gift and skill that needs to continuously be refined and developed.

    The trouble with discernment is that it is decisive...but we are not.  When I say "trouble" what I really mean is..real discernment pushes us to call a spade, take action and stand firm.  I know lots of people that are extremely discerning, unfortunately, I know more people that are not...at all.  So rather than offer some characteristics of discernment, here are some to look for when discernment may be lacking;

    1. Impulsive - It's often said: "First out best out" or "Go with your Gut."  While these are true in the right contexts, they are not characteristics to rely on when looking for discerning people.  It's critical to differentiate being decisive with acting with unnecessary haste.  When someone is decisive, they take in the context, variables and make a tactical and calculated decision without delay...this does not mean that decisiveness is reactionary or implusive, but rather is timely and firm in the decision...confident that all angles (or at least most) have been examined and flushed out.

    2. Self-Seeking - Everyone is self-seeking at times.  It's when our decision-making and advice is driven by motives that are self-seeking.  It's easy to recommend a solution to someone that pays you their dollar or allows you to take a step up the ladder...but what about when what's best for the person or situation involves some self-sacrifice?  Discernment is honest, self-examining and conscience of its surroundings.  If you tell the truth all the time, you never need to remember what you said.

    3. Scattered and/or Unclear - Be concise.  As I reflect on situations and people that I've interacted with that lack discernment, this is a pervasive truth.  Hectic and rash actions that drive vain and implusive decisions.  Discernment is calm, collected and orderly.  The person that panics and loses control rarely makes the best decision.  Self-control and clarity of thought propel discernment and act as a guard rail down the path of decision-making.

    Discernment at its core is more about wisdom than anything else.  By surrounding yourself with trustworthy and competent individuals, you create an environment for discernment to develop.

    Tuesday
    Apr102012

    Techno Treats - The iPad Keyboard

    I'm always on the look out for great products that allow me to work with greater efficiency.  I love my iPad.  I know there are lots of people that mock them, but whether its reading on the Kindle App, cycling through PDF's and documents at a board meeting or just email and word processing...it's been fantastic for me! 

    Recently I discovered a case for the iPad that doubles as a keyboard.  The colleague that showed it to me has had nothing but positive things to say about so I had to get one, and it's been great!  You can buy one on Amazon (cheaper than Best Buy).  Definitely worth the money if you plan on taking notes or using your iPad for more than just browsing.  Check it out HERE.

     

    Tuesday
    Apr032012

    S-T-O-P...STOP

    It's a sign that we learn at a very young age.  Right now we're teaching my oldest daughter (who's almost three) about the different meaning of the colors on a traffic light, as well as what you are supposed to when you see a big red STOP sign.

    As expected, she's become a little police officer quite quickly, warning me of upcoming stop signs and red lights 50+ feet away.  As the cuteness of it fades, I began to think about the reasoning behind what she was doing.  She knew that something was coming...something that she wasn't sure if I saw...so she wanted to warn me.  At the time of warning, I have two paths to choose:

    1) Listen.  Stop.  Avoid injury. 
    2) Don't Lisen. Blow through the warning and the sign. 3) Risk injury and even dealth.

    Seems pretty simple.  The sign is designed to protect me, and my resident police officer is telling me to listen to the sign to avoid suffering.

    Unfortunately, life doesn't have big red signs and doesn't always provide you with a 3-year old giving you advice at will.  That being said, we can quickly blow through the stop signs.  Here are three lessons I've learned through both listening and NOT listening to the signs that were in front of me.

    1) Ask Around - You're not the only one with a problem.  We all have out own, and chances are...someone you know has been where you are.  There is wisdom in the council of many...seek it and listen.

    2) Perform an Efficient Autopsy - This is often the hardest one.  Typically, people either want to forget and move on OR dig deep and spend to much time in analysis of "what could've been."  There is a very fine balance of looking at where you went wrong, stoping to reflect and then moving on.  The balance is in the time spent and the action plan that comes from the lessons learned.  Learn them. Move on.

    3) Intuition is not Overrated - I can recall many occasions when I went against my "gut" feeling on an issue and later had wished I had listened.  Based on #1 (advise from others) and #2 (lessons from past experience) your intuition can be a valueable asset.  Don't solely rely on it, but vette it as a credible source of value in the decision making process.

    I've blown through stop signs and it never ends well.  Look for the signs...Follow the instructions.

     

    Friday
    Jan202012

    When Policy Trumps Practice

    It doesn't happen often, and thankfully when it does...it usually gets corrected.  When policy trumping practice doesn't get corrected, it's a pretty poor reflection on a companies pulse of what the customer wants and needs.

    As many of you know, I have two young daughters.  Having young kids (obviously) comes with some challenging situations.  One example of this that we (specifically my wife) has to deal with on a regular basis is the art of grocery shopping.  Juggling a crying baby with a 2-year old that wants to run up and down the aisles while avoiding oncoming shoppers is in fact challenging to say the least.

    Recently, my wife told me that she was switching grocery stores.  Knowing how much she loved the one she shopped at...I asked her why she had made this decision (expecting it to be product based or the distance she had to travel to get there).  I was incorrect, as she informed me it was much more simple: They changed their grocery carts from being able to hold 2-kids down to a smaller 1-child cart. 

    WOW.

    Being that we are not the only family in Oakville with 2 young children, I am sure this decision was not an isolated incident.  Surely someone at a boardroom table at head office had this idea (most likely not having young children) in an effort to cut costs in making smaller carts and reduce the space of carts in the aisles.

    Unfortunately, this decision has alienated any shopper with 2 children.  Sobey's, Loblaws, Longo's...they all have 2-child carts...so maybe at the outset, this cost-cutting measure was deemed a competitive advantage.  Also unfortunate, loyal business is now leaving for the competitor in a VERY tight-margin business...and all because a policy enacted miles away didn't take into consideration the needs of customers.

    Lesson learned: Every business decision has a downside, if you don't understand it...you cannot mitigate it.

    Wednesday
    Jan182012

    The 3 Lessons I Learned By #Failing

    It's not that common of a topic.  Realistically, behind every successful person are a few failure stories.  It's one of the things I love doing when speaking with uber-successful people...everyone has a great #FAIL story.  A bad decision, a series of unfortunate events, or maybe just misplaced trust...failure is inevitable.  Whether you failed because you didn't strategically quit soon enough...or the idea was just bad from the start, it's not the failing that kills...it's the repetition!

    1) Learn the Lesson...Move On - Too many times do I see people punishing themselves for previous failures.  Not only does this prevent you from amortizing any lessons learned...it cripples your decision making process.  When I skinned my knee by falling off my bike when I was 6...I could've committed to never ride a bike again.  Instead, I committed to try harder, learn from others AND wear pants until I figured out what I was doing.  Learn your lessons, leverage your knowledge and put into practice some safeguards to help steer you clear of your skinned knee in the future.

    2) Quitting ≠ Failure - Similar to my post on the discipline of strategic quitting...often, your best out is your first out.  By improving how you a)Identify pitfalls that lead to failure & b)Avoid them at all costs you are already amortizing previous failures.  If you measure success over a life-time, not a week, month or even year...your definition of failure will change and evolve to include refreshed perspective.

    3) Failure Should be Amortized - It's really simple, your failures teach you lessons that last a lifetime (read THIS if you don't know what Amortization means).  When you touches the stove at age 4 and burnt your hand...you learned that it was hot, and it hurts.  Today, you don't touch the stove because you remember...it's hot, and it will hurt.  The pain at age 4 has been amortized over the course of your X number of years since than, making the experience of pain at age 4 well worth the lesson of not burning your hand regularly for X number of years.  Failing in business can be viewed the same way.  I've learned to double check financial information that I once took at face value...learned to not let an employee borrow my car unless I'm willing to pay personally to have it fixed...and most importantly, learned that if I don't prioritize my wife and kids and they feel neglected...Kraft Dinner loses it's appeal 3 nights in a row.

    Learn your lessons, Quit before it's too late, Amortize failure over a lifetime.