Archive for ‘Taking Action’

February 11, 2017

Playing to Win

No matter who you rooted for (unless you were rooting for Lady Gaga), what a thrilling Super Bowl it was last weekend, with New England coming from way behind to win in overtime. At one point, the young, upstart Atlanta team raced out to a 28-3 lead, but somehow did not score a single point after that.

There’s been plenty of analysis in the sports columns about how they lost, what the key plays were that turned the momentum, and which plays should or should not have been called. It’s easy to second-guess after the results are in. So I’ll add my own contribution to this debate, but from a completely different perspective.

As young as the Atlanta team is, I happen to think that there’s a possibility that two collective thoughts doomed the team in the third quarter when the score first reached 28-3: (1) “We’ve got this well in hand, everyone was saying we couldn’t do it,” and (2) “Don’t blow it now.”

Those thoughts together lead to a strategy of playing “not to lose”. If you have thoughts of playing not to lose, or playing not to make a mistake, then you generally stop doing whatever it was that got you to that point of success. And because you change your style of work, you often won’t get the same successful results.

I wonder if playing “not to lose” was indeed the beginning of the end of the game for the Falcons. What do you think?

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August 15, 2016

Olympic Motivation

So I’ve been a bit tardy, not having posted for a little while, but don’t worry — this time around, I’ve just been busy. The Olympics in Rio have been front and center, and I’m struck yet again by some of the stories of champions who shed tears on the podium. Those who have talked about it have mentioned that the emotions come welling up when they think of the road that they took to get there, and all the adversity and pain they overcame.

Every four years — actually, now every two, with the Winter Olympics filling the gap — we hear some of the best stories about Olympic competitors who reached their peak after overcoming adversity. It’s an occasional reminder that when you think it’s bad, it might really be, but maybe there’s a way to fight back, conquer it, and still get to where you want to be.

Here are a few inspiring stories covered in a piece on the British website Metro:

Inspiring stories of Olympic competitors in Rio

I saw the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, win his race last night. Who should I watch tonight?

January 3, 2016

Top 2 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail …

There’s all sorts of data out there supporting the fact that most people do not succeed in keeping their New Year’s resolutions, if they even make them at all. Research from the University of Scranton suggests only 8% of folks succeed in meeting their resolutions.

There are 2 main reasons for this:

#1. Not understanding the reason for change

Don’t change to run away from something, change to run toward something. Since I spend most of my time working with businesses, I’ll use a business start-up analogy: Don’t start your own business because you hate your job, start one because you’re passionate about doing something better, or providing a better solution, or helping to improve the world in some way.

If you have a positive reason for making a resolution instead of a negative one, it can motivate and inspire you, which increases your chances of fulfilling the resolution.

#2. Setting goals that are not specific or realistic enough

If the resolution is too general (like “be healthier”), you won’t meet it because you won’t know if you met it. Too much wiggle room. Be specific (as in “lose 12 pounds over the next 6 months and then maintain it”). But if your goal is not realistic (as in lose 70 pounds in 6 months – not something you’d usually do without medical supervision), then you won’t stand a chance to meet the goal.

Be realistic about your resolutions. Do your research and know what is likely vs. unlikely to accomplish. It’s fine to be optimistic, but too much of it leads to being unrealistic.

Happy New Year to all!

December 31, 2014

A New Year’s Challenge

Here’s my challenge and a wish for you as another New Year approaches. Check out this short 2-minute video I recorded just for you.

Happy New Year!

December 18, 2014

Are You Ready for The Second Boom in 2015?

This is the time of year when we reflect on what we’ve accomplished the past year, and what we’d like to accomplish in the coming year. So for those of you who have been considering finally starting your own business, I’d like you to ask yourself if you’re ready for The Second Boom.

In a self-study program that was 2 years in the making, I teach my 16 Action Steps of The Second Boom, for figuring out what fits, what’s feasible, and how to start and grow it.

When I created this program, I addressed my fellow members of the Baby Boom generation. But in reality, it’s useful for anyone who has lots of work experience, 20 years or more. (That means you too, Generation X’ers!) It’s all about figuring out how to apply your experience to create a business with potential.

To see if you’re ready, I created a 3-part complimentary video training series here. Click on the link to hear my brief message.

And for those of you who invest the time in yourselves to see all three parts of the training, I’ve got a very special offer for you at the end.

Happy Holidays, and cheers to success in 2015! Think about investing in your own goals, and what that might mean to you.

October 12, 2014

Is Passion the Answer?

Last week, I delivered a short keynote at a breakfast event called “Too Young to Retire”, held in Syracuse, New York. The event was sponsored by community group FOCUS Greater Syracuse, and was held to attract Baby Boomers who are thinking of starting their own businesses. About 80 folks, overwhelmingly most of them Boomers, were in attendance for this early morning event.

During my keynote, I answered the 2 main questions I hear through my work on my program The Second Boom, which are “Is it too late?” (to start a business), and “Have I failed too many times?” (I’ll give you one guess on my answer to both.)

After my short segment, a panel of 3 local entrepreneurs answered questions by a moderator, and took questions from the audience. One of the themes that emerged from the panelists was something along the lines of “if you have a lot of passion for what you want to do, good things will happen.”

This was mentioned several times, and each time it was mentioned, I had trouble sitting still. Finally, I had to make a comment, and raised my hand, even though by then I was merely a member of the audience.

I said that I felt passion is an important component to reaching for success, but it’s not the only answer. There’s a lot of motivational talk about “thinking positively” and “being passionate”, but as I reminded everyone, that’s not the only thing. You still have to have a realistic plan for the business, one that provides a product or service that solves some kind of problem that enough people are willing to pay money for.

And that is because when you start a business, your goal is to make money. If you don’t make money, you’re just starting a hobby. Businesses make you money, but hobbies cost you money.

Be sure the thing you’re passionate about becomes a business, not just a hobby.

September 2, 2014

If Peyton Can Do It, Why Can’t You?

Over the summer I read a story on the ESPN website about Peyton Manning and his offseason preparations. Though he’s a sure-fire Hall of Famer and has a ton of accomplishments including one Super Bowl championship, no one apparently works harder than he does. The sting of the last Super Bowl loss is just too great to ignore.

At an age and level of accomplishment that could cause anyone to start dialing back, Peyton is doing anything but. He arrives early, stays late to work with young receivers, and is constantly self-evaluating. He’s not bashing himself or others, he’s not being unfair, he’s just assessing where he can improve and do even better. That’s all just plain hard work.

Sometimes in our careers, businesses, or lives we might think we’ve come far and can dial back or even coast a bit, and that’s human nature. But if Peyton can continue to work hard, why can’t you?

June 20, 2014

Life’s Good, Once Again

A couple of weeks ago (see my last post), I was struggling mightily trying to communicate with @LGUS, LG USA. As you might have read, the owners of the tag line “Life’s Good” were making my life so very NOT good. Caught between a communication conflict between LG’s customer support arm and a third-party authorized service center, my frustration was reaching astronomical heights, because my 1-year old LG refrigerator had been dead for almost 2 weeks and there was no clear end in sight.

Well, I’m happier to report that @LGUS did finally come through, after I was able to speak to the right people. They resolved the situation to my satisfaction, allowing me to go out and buy a new refrigerator to replace the LG that died. On a Friday after lunch my wife and I went out to shop, and by 4pm on Saturday a new refrigerator was humming away, cooling itself down. The next day I happily pulled a frosty cold beverage out, and fired up the BBQ to celebrate.

Was the new one an LG, you ask? I’ll give you one guess. But I do appreciate the quick resolution by the folks at LG, once I was able to get connected to the right people. I think I’ll just continue to stick with LG for my consumer electronics, and leave it at that.

I hope life’s good for all of you!

June 3, 2014

Life’s Good? We’ll Have to See…

I’m undergoing a customer experience with LG Electronics, which you might know has as their advertising slogan “Life’s Good”. At the moment, I can definitely say life is NOT good (as it relates to LG), but the final word has not yet been heard.

This surrounds an LG refrigerator I purchased last year. Further disclosure, I have bought other LG products like digital TVs and smartphones, and have been happy with those devices. Until last year, however, I had never thought of trying LG for refrigeration. But the product we bought had the features we wanted without the features we didn’t want, and it fit into the space we were working with.

Almost 13 months from the purchase date, the LG fridge died just before the Memorial Day weekend. The warranty was for 12 months, so you can imagine my first reaction when it happened. Fortunately, LG Customer Service was good enough to extend my warranty for an additional 30 days to cover the repair. And that’s when the ride got bumpy.

Because of the holiday weekend, we couldn’t get anyone in until 3 days later, when the repair guy from the “LG authorized service center” said the compressor was bad. They would have to order it, and it’ll take 3 or 4 days to come in, he said, but they’d try to put a rush on it. We groaned; it was looking like we would be 10 days without a fridge. But, what can you do. Little did we know that 10 days would have been great.

A week later, I called the service center, a local 3rd party company, to check the status of our part. The parts lady told me that it was backordered, and would not be available for shipment until June 17. My reaction to that was much more than a groan, and will not be repeated here. With that schedule, we’d be out of a fridge for almost one month!

But she suggested I call LG directly to try to expedite the part, and that’s when the fun really started.

Yesterday, I collectively spent almost 2 hours on the phone talking to several different LG customer service reps, talking to the parts lady at the local service company, and being on hold for interminable periods of time. The first time, I found myself in the middle of an argument between the LG rep and the parts lady at the service company. The parts lady said she was told by LG the part is backordered and won’t ship until June 17. The LG rep said she was told by LG that the part is in stock and ready to ship.

Both were convinced they were right. Where did that leave me? Extremely frustrated, and still without the prospect of restoring my refrigeration.

When I asked for an LG supervisor, I was given an extension number to ask for help. I tried later in the afternoon, and first had to repeat part of the story (despite LG having notes in my case file), because “I need to tell them why I’m transferring you”. I was transferred, was on hold for 20 minutes listening to the same annoying message, then hung up to try again. Tried again, and when they transferred me, got cut off. Tried again, asked the agent to try getting the extension before transferring me, and she came back and said because no one was answering, she’d “have to let me go”.

What does that mean, she’s firing me as a customer?

Gave it another try, and after a shorter wait, finally got someone in the group I was looking for. This last person, a supervisor, was much nicer and much more responsive, but even she accidentally disconnected me too, leaving me to wonder if this was some kind of conspiracy. (Actually, it just frustrated me all the more.)

Fortunately the supervisor called me back, and we’ve proceeded from there. They’re trying to decide what to do to fix my situation, so I’ll just have to see what they say.

Why am I writing about this? Here’s the main point … throughout all this, I just wanted “to be the customer”. And as an LG customer, I just wanted to know someone cared, to be helped with my problem, and to have my refrigeration restored.

I did not want, or sign up, to learn how LG’s distribution channels communicate, which number their service centers are supposed to call for parts, or what they’re supposed to do before they transfer my call (or cut me off). Nor did I want to listen to the service center tell me that the LG rep “doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” Nor did I sign up to call back repeatedly after being disconnected or left on hold for the black hole. And I certainly did not want almost 2 hours of my day taken up navigating that phone journey. I have enough of my own work to do.

So in your businesses, when you troubleshoot your customers’ problems or issues, just remember that all they want to do is be your customer. They want to know that your products and services bring them satisfaction and even joy, but if they do run into a problem, you’ll be there to help them. And that you won’t bother them will all the details that don’t concern them, and don’t get them any closer to a solution.

As for my situation with LG, I hope there’s a satisfactory ending. At the height of my frustration, I exclaimed to one poor LG rep, “You know what, right now you guys are not LG. You’re LNG — Life’s NOT Good!”

I just want to be the customer … and maybe be able to have a frosty cold beverage waiting for me in the fridge at last.

April 24, 2014

No Guessing

The other day I called a company that is the support group for an online system I have to use as part of a client project. I was referred to a specific person in one department, and when I asked for that person, found that she was on vacation for the week. The woman who answered the phone, however, wanted to be helpful.

“Perhaps I can help you,” she offered. So I started to outline the question that I had, related to what inputs the system was expecting. I had already used the system for a while; I just had a specific question about one type of operation.

The woman on the phone, though she was trying to help, started stumbling through an answer, and ended up telling me something very elementary that wasn’t even the point of my question. As politely as I could, I observed that perhaps this is something on which I needed to speak directly with the other contact who was on vacation. This person’s reply to that:

“Oh, probably. I haven’t been trained on this system yet, anyway.”

Well, then why didn’t she say so from the get-go? Why take a bunch of guesses, make herself look like she didn’t know anything, and waste my time?

No guessing. If you don’t know something you’re asked, just say so, and refer the questioner to someone else, or get back to them when you do know. No one has a problem with that.