Out With The Old & In With The New…Perspective

June 24, 2012 § Leave a comment

As a Cubs fan, we get attached to veteran players. In fact, that could be said about most baseball fans. This year is no different for me. I was very disappointed to see Marlon Byrd get traded. I love his work ethic, hustle and obvious love for the game. The chatter on the Internet is the Cubs are waiting to call up the center field phenom, Brett Jackson, from the Iowa Cubs. In the meantime, Tony Campana has been given a great opportunity to prove himself. While Tony is not Marlon, he has done a great job bringing a different approach and different style to Center Field.

In business, it is always difficult to lose a great employee. But instead of focusing on the loss, think of it as an opportunity to hire a great new addition to the team.

Anytime a great person is hired, they bring an advantage that no other person on the team can bring: a new perspective. Don’t squander the opportunity. Take advantage of it. Once a new person gets acclimated to the company, I always encourage the manager to ask the person, “what do you see that you would change or that doesn’t make sense”. Their fresh perspective and new set of eyes is invaluable.

Are there any success stories where this new perspective has had an impact on your organization?

Keep your eyes open. Inspiration can come from anywhere.

This post was inspired by a couple of articles in Vine Line magazine. 

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What’s in a Name?

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Curse is a bar on Clark Street in Chicago that is looking for a new name. I learned this in July 2011 when I was in Wrigleyville for a Cubs game with my friend Brian.

Ater the game, we walked by the bar and noticed they were playing some ’70s disco & funk music. We decided to give it a try. Shortly after getting our beer, the waitress told us they wanted to change their name. I asked why. She asked what their name, The Curse, meant to me. I told her when I saw the name I thought it would be a grunge or goth bar. She looked at me disappointingly.

The waitress informed us the name is a reference to The Curse of the Billy Goat. The Billy Goat curse was supposedly placed on the Cubs in 1945 when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game against the Detroit Tigers at the Cubs’ home ground of Wrigley Field because his pet goat’s odor was bothering other fans. He was outraged and declared, “Them Cubs, they aren’t gonna win no more,”

The waitress went on to say she always has to explain the name to people and this is why they are looking for a new name. We declared “we will have a new name for you after we finish this beer!”

After talking to the waitress about their preferred customers, normal atmosphere in the bar and any future changes they plan to make, Brian and I began to brainstorm on a new name. It didn’t take long. Brian remembered the music that drew us to the bar in the first place. He said the new name should be Funk & Curse. I thought it was a brilliant idea. It retained the sports reference, described the music atmoshphere we heard and if the name is said quickly, it could be a fun play on the words by making it sound like a phrase said by someone frustrated by the Billy Goat Curse.

We shared our brilliant idea with the waitress. When we told her the new name, you would have thought nothing could have repulsed her more.

This is usually where I share my wisdom and insight in choosing a new business name. Instead , I would enjoy hearing from anyone and everyone reading this blog. Leave your comments. So I ask you, what’s in a name?

Keep your eyes open.  Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Inspiration for this writing came from Brian and the waitress we talked to at The Curse. Wouldn’t it be fun and funny to walk into the Funk & Curse to celebrate a win next season?

Unwritten Rules

August 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

“That is one of those unwritten rules”. How many times have you heard a former Major League player and current announcer make this claim? As many people know, baseball has dozens of unwritten rules, maybe even hundreds. Don’t admire your home run shot too long. You can slide in hard to second base to break up a double play, but don’t go in with your cleats up. And my favorite, non pitchers cannot walk across the pitchers mound. All of these unwritten rules make the play unclear to some on the field and most off the field.

If you want people to perform at a very high level, whether it is on the baseball field or at your organization, rules cannot be “unwritten”. “Unwritten Rules” tend to be very vague and unclear. Clarity is paramount. How many times have directions been given and the person goes off and does something completely different? The most likely reason is due to unclear directions.

Be clear. Be concise. Repeat.

Keep your eyes open.  Inspiration can come from anywhere.

I was inspired by a blog post from Marlon Byrd, center fielder for the Chicago Cubs, about the unwritten rules of baseball.

It’s All About The Delivery

August 1, 2011 § 1 Comment

Pitchers in baseball spend years perfecting their delivery.  The smallest tweak in the delivery can make a huge impact, both positive and negative, in the pitcher’s success. Most changes are intentional.  For example, Ryan Dempster, pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, developed a “tell” in his delivery.  Something that he was doing in his delivery told the batter the pitch he was going to throw.  In 2008 he changed his delivery to eliminate the tell.  That season, he went on to have the best record and ERA of his career.

The same inverse impact (small tweak makes a huge impact) can happen in business on any given day. The reaction and response from whom you communicate with can be drastically altered depending on the delivery of your communication.

I experience this at least on a weekly basis.  Someone will talk to me venting about something someone else said.  When I hear the story, it is usually not the words that peaked the ire of the person on the receiving end of the communication, but the tone, body language, enthusiasm (or lack of) or even the word or words that were emphasized in the communication that seem to have caused the problems.  In other words, the delivery.

It is hard to do, but we must think about how our communications will be received or interpreted before they are delivered. Email communication is a bit easier to proof-read and revise if need be.  Verbal conversation is much more difficult and yet much more important.  I am not saying you need to be nice all the time.  Instead, be intentional.  Be intentional in your tone, in your word choice, in your strength and your choice of method (email,  verbal or something else).  Be in control and never out of control of your communication delivery.  If you intend to be nice in your communication, great.  But if the situation calls for stern, hard or aggressive, the delivery of the communication needs to intentionally reflect that.

Think before you speak.  Proof-read before you send.  Using these two simple ideas will help you get the intended reactions from those with whom you communicate.

Keep your eyes open.  Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Inspiration for this writing came from many of my associates at Group Delphi and others in the business community in Fort Wayne with whom I speak periodically about business management challenges.

Listening to the Quiet

July 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

Sometimes we all need to stop, regroup and recharge our professional batteries.  I was at a Cubs game on July 15, 2011.  Carlos Marmol came into the game with a two-run lead in the 9th inning.  He was only able to get one out before he was pulled and replaced by another reliever to finish out the game.  Marmol was very inconsistent and unable to pitch strikes.  The team manager, Mike Quade, asked Carlos Marmol to take the weekend off to regroup and regain his exceptional ability to get outs at the end of the game.

There are times when we all need to regroup and regain our passion for our work. I experienced this first hand.  The first part of my “down time” I went to see the Cubs victory I briefly described above.  The rest of my time was been spent by the water swimming, fishing, having a few adult beverages and Listening to the Quiet.

The Quiet.  It is something many of us have never experienced or have not realized the experience.  If you know this expience, you know what I will attempt to describe. 

Sitting outside, many times you hear birds chirping, kids playing and lawn mowers roaring.  Imagine if all of those sounds went away – or at least two of the three.  All that remains is the Quiet, true quiet. 

If you have experienced Quiet, you know what is meant by the saying “silence is deafening”.  Phones are not ringing and business associates are not asking questions.  Quiet.  What happens next is up to you and is the most important.  Your mind begins to wander and/or wonder. This is always important regardless of the profession you are in.  You begin thinking about life’s challenges and how to resolve those challenges.  It is also a great time to generate ideas for the next blog you write. 

In addition to providing high-quality think-time, the Quiet allows you to do the opposite – think about nothing.  Thinking about nothing provides a relief of stress and improves your overall emotional well being.  It other words’ it recharges your emotional batteries.

I have found it very difficult, but vitally important to take a break from the always on, always connected life.  Make the time to do nothing and listen to the quiet.  How long has it been since you have Listened to the Quiet?

Keep your eyes open.  Inspiration can come from anywhere.

Inspiration for this writing came from my dad.  He always reminds me to  take some time off from the fast-paced world of business and enjoy doing nothing.

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