General Business

05.12.2012 General Business, Leadership and Leadership Development, Talent Management and Development No Comments

Employee Learning Week continues

I attended a terrific presentation by Sandy Stefano of Peak Performance/Sandler Training this morning on goal setting. She showed the incredibly moving and powerful video, The Last Lecture.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a presentation by Dr. Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. In it, he shared his thoughts–philosophy, really–on not just goal-setting, but dream-setting.

So my quote of the day comes from Dr. Rausch. It applies to learning, certainly, and assuredly to creating a life well-lived.

“A brick wall is there to test our commitment to our goals.”

Clarity + Action + Persistence = Achieving your Dreams

What’s keeping you from achieving your dreams, for yourself, your family, and your business?

04.12.2012 General Business, Leadership and Leadership Development, Talent Management and Development No Comments

Employee Learning Week 2012 is December 3 – 7

Each year for the past several, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) promotes workplace learning and performance through the declaration of Employee Learning Week (ELW). Each year, I try to participate as a “Champion of Learning.” Here’s a link to ASTD’s ELW site, and here’s one to the Central NY ASTD chapter’s site with information about what ELW is and how organizations around the country and the CNY region are recognizing it.

This year, I’m intending to tweet and email a daily “ELW Quote of the Day;” I’ll attend and chair the Onondaga-Madison School Boards Association Annual Meeting where the keynoter will discuss “Linking Workforce Development and Public Education;” I’ll present a client workshop on leadership, and coach two executive clients; and I’ll attend a sales training session presented by my friends at Peak Performance. The book I’m reading this week is “Good Business: Leadership, Flow, and the Making of Meaning” by Mihayl Csikszentmihalyi. (Csikszentmihalyi’s story of escape from Nazi-occupied Hungary and eventual immigration to the United States during WWII is fascinating and inspirational, and is a lesson in learning itself. He taught himself English, eventually earned his Ph. D. in Psychology, and became, perhaps, the most renowned expert on what he termed “flow” and how it impacts individual creativity and organizational performance.)

Think about ways you can enhance your learning, and how you can impact learning in your organization and for your clients this week.

Celebrate Employee Learning Week 2012!

19.04.2012 General Business, Leadership and Leadership Development, Talent Management and Development 2 Comments

Apple does it right

Okay, so why the Apple ode?

I’m typing this on my latest of new Apple objects, a 15-inch Macbook Pro. The machine looks beautiful. The keys are sensual. The internet screams on it. All my old files “just work” on it. So what’s that got to do with anything? This is a business and leadership column, after all!

Well, you see, I originally went to upgrade my seven-year-old computer, thinking I’d buy something cutting edge and current, like an iPad or a Macbook Air, but maybe save a little by purchasing from another company (of which I’m a shareholder). (That I’d be purchasing an Apple product was decided–I’m firmly anchored to their ecosystem. And I’m not a shareholder!) I’ve read lots o’ stuff online about specs and performance and features and thought I had a pretty good handle on the benefits and drawbacks of the product line. I’ve purchased a couple of iPads for the fam. Now it was my turn to get hip with the latest and greatest.

I went to my local Big Box Electronics Retailer where they wear blue and yellow shirts, fully expecting to buy there. I “hailed” a sales associate after a few minutes of looking at the machines on my own. She was pleasant, although I got the feeling she might have been heading somewhere else to do something else, rather than stop and speak with me. With little direct eye contact nor facial expression and frequent interruptions, she “listened” for a minute or two (which felt like 10 or 15 seconds to me), and made her recommendation. Rather than the shinier toys I coveted, she recommended the Macbook Pro to meet my needs, and called her manager over to confirm this. This rec made sense to me, given what I said I needed to do with it (though I was a little disappointed!). And the price was actually lower than offered on Apple’s site, so the “yippee, I’m getting a deal!” sensation made me feel alright about it.

The floor associate wandered off to do something else, and the manager began verifying pricing, filling out the paperwork–and heavily pushing add-on support services and warranties (“What happens if you drop it? This will protect you! And there’s no deductible each time, so you can drop it as often as you like! For Three Years!”) Final pricing was more than I was hoping to spend, but still within budget. Told him I’d think about it.

The next day, I’m near the Apple store in the mall and had some time to kill. With no intention of buying that night, I wandered in, near closing. Friendly greeter at the store’s front introduced me to a smiling associate to help me. Kirsten listened–really listened–to my story. My experience. My challenges with the present equipment. What I was hoping to accomplish and my needs. Even my desires to own the hipper new products! She looked at me and listened. And listened some more, engaging in back and forth with targeted questioning to balance the listening.

After several minutes of letting me ramble (probably seemed like a couple of hours to her!) yet keeping me focused through her skillful listening and questioning, she recommended the Macbook Pro to meet my needs. Same computer. I asked about the Applecare and “What’s this One-to-One thing?” (training and support), and she described it but left it to me to think about, with no pressure. (At this point we were more than ten minutes past the store’s closing time, although I wasn’t the last customer.) The list price of the computer actually was $120 higher, although the total package with support turned out to be about the same.

I said I’d take it. (And now I was the last customer!)

What drives a business’s success?

Sales? Controlling expenses? Cash flow?

All important, and necessary. But, who’s achieving these business goals?

People. It’s the people in an organization, the employees carrying out the day-to-day tasks and activities that bring about the most desirous of business outcomes: profitable mission fulfillment. (And this applies for non-profit and governmental organizations, also, of course. The business outcome could be called “mission fulfillment in a financially meaningful way,” but the bottom line is as crucial to ongoing viability for them as for their for-profit siblings.)

And from where do the people in the organization take their cues? Leadership.

Leadership that’s value-based and congruently “walks its talk” by behavioralizing and modeling its values. Leadership that treats its employees with honesty, fairness, and respect, building trust, commitment, and engagement.

Leadership is the lever to organizational success in how it defines and lives its company’s values, and engages employees in that culture and the real purpose of the business.