I Fell Out Of Cyber Space!

Wow, it has been a while!  I am sorry for such a long absence, I fell out of cyberspace but I am still alive to tell the story!  I have had to reorganize my time recently since I have taken on a new business which has taken my full attention and concentration.  As the saying goes “what is well begun is half done”, it really takes only a little distraction to lose everything if you are not careful and so I have been putting in my full 110% attention into my new project.

This is what I wanted to share with you, and that being, when you start something new, you need to take a good look at every aspect of your business, or job in order to see where you might make any necessary adjustments for it to become a success.  In my case, we have taken over an already existing business which was doing fine, but which has no end of potential growth.  There were a few people who had been there for a very long time and who had grown used to the way things had run up until now, so they were not interested in seeing change, as that would mean they might have to change the way they were working.  So in order to help them grow, and for the business to have a chance to grow as well, we had to leave them home.

Making this type of decision is never easy and it brings no great joy, but if you can see the silver lining, even for these people who had gotten themselves stuck in a rut that they were unable to free themselves from, this is a wonderful opportunity for them to grow as well. Change is necessary in our lives, for without it we tend to become the living dead!

In addition to the time that is necessary to dedicate to this business, being that it is located in Italy, those of you who have never attempted to start a business in Italy have no idea what the word bureaucracy means! It is almost like going on a roller-coaster ride for your first time, you are not sure you will come out alive!  Here, everyday there are new laws in order to survive the current crisis and so you have to be real careful to read every joy and title to make sure you are in line to avoid an ever growing minefield of fines and sanctions. Something you would never wish on anyone. So if you see flares in the sky proceeding our of Italy, that is  me calling for help!

I hope to stay true to my commitment to writing and sharing my experiences!



New Beginnings-Starting up!

“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” –Joe Sabah

Sorry for disappearing for a few days this past week!  I have been pretty tied up with a new and exciting adventure that I hope to be sharing with you as it progresses.  I have been presented, along with my wife, with the opportunity to run a business which has been in operation for quite a few years.  Things have been going pretty well for these many years, however there is a lot of room for improvement with a potential to grow which presents a wonderful challenge for the both of us.  It is sort fun to be faced with such a challenge and we are pretty excited and nervous as we are beginning to make the initial plans and will soon be operational.

In order to make the necessary progress there are a few changes that must take place.  For one, the personnel must be the right personnel and not just someone who is in need of a job.  They must be willing to make adjustments in order to go along with the standards that we are setting for the business, as well as be team players ready to make a few adjustments in order to turn things around.  So this means that some of the existing personnel will need to move on in order for the new to take hold.  It is never a pleasant matter when you have to let people go, but when you have people who have been there for many years and have “always done it that way”, they find it near impossible to accept a new way to operate and will become an obstacle to progress.

Choosing your team is one of the most important jobs that you have, as if your team is weak, you will be setting yourself up for failure. It really is not important the type of work you do, if your team members are not willing to work together, or they gossip and pull down the team spirit, they will be more of a problem than an asset and it is best to decide to part ways sooner rather than later.

So as you can see, I have been a bit busy lately and in need of making some important decisions.  I will keep you posted and look forward to having you back!

Personal Mission Statement-Do You Have One?

A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.– Albert Camus

Whatever you do in life, whoever you may be and whatever your goals in life are, it is important that you prepare your “personal mission statement”.   If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything, and if you are not sure where you are headed then you will for certain get lost!

What do I mean by a “personal mission statement”?  Well, each of us as individuals have a great impact on the world that surrounds us.  We affect people at home, we influence people at work, we leave an impression on others in school…no man is an island.  A great sad reality today in the world we live in is; too many are influenced by the economic environment instead of a self-imposed ethic standard by which they would like to live.  Way too many of us will compromise what we believe or feel to be right, in order to gain and this is precisely what has led us into the current economic woes that we have all fallen victims to today!

Just as in business you have choices, hard choices such as, should we take a hit financially in order to right a wrong so as to satisfy the consumers..or should we leave things as they are and get what we can today at the dis-satisfaction of the customer?  When you decide to take the tough road of satisfying the customer, it costs you initially but most likely you will gain  long-term satisfaction and future and continued income.  If you choose the latter, you may earn more today, but fail on the long-term!

The same goes for your personal decisions and self-set standard.  If  you compromise your personal ethics in order to gain today, in the long-term you may end up losing big time in the long run!  You have to set what you would like to be known for, brand yourself in such a way that others will know what you stand for, and once you have done this, will have the customers that you want and need!  Sit down and write out your personal mission statement. Set your own standard and live by them, you will find that others will seek you out because of the value you have to offer!

Do you have a personal mission statement?

Are You A Funnel Or A Cork?

“A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” David R. Gergen

Many people have the misconception that a leader is a person that knows everything, tells everything, and is someone who is always at minimum tens steps ahead of everyone else, and for this reason they are the leader!  But leaders are those who first of all are capable (and smart enough) to assemble a winning combination of people who are suited for the job and can teach them the joys of teamwork.

Anyone can run around and boss everyone around and tell others what to do, but who wants to do that when if you could develop the inner talent of those you work with and inspire in them to reach decisions within their realm of expertise!  If you want to always “call the shots” and be the “big cheese” and make sure everyone knows who the boss is, what you will eventually realize, if not sooner, then later is that you are becoming a cork and the bottleneck to progress!

In every business, be it large or small, there are so many things that need to be taken care of.  Surely at the beginning stages as you are forming a team, you will need to get more involved, but if you do not begin early on to use the art of delegation and teaching others to make those petty decisions, you will find yourself with a big problem.  Everything is waiting on you, and nothing is getting done because you have not taken the time to inspire in others how to make wise decisions.

If you have carefully selected your team members and are happy with who you have chosen, then it is time to become a funnel.  What is a funnel?  Someone who can take in a large amount of ideas and suggestions and begin the process to bring it down to a workable solution. It is important to be open to others observations and ideas and to encourage them to think things out and make the right questions in order to arrive to the proper solutions! You are simply there to give the thumbs up when they have reached the right decision.

You don’t have to have all of the answers, you just need to know where the ship is heading, work together with your team to find the best way to guide the ship in the right direction.  That to me is sign of real leadership!

Are you a funnel or a cork?

The Compliment of Criticism

“Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing” –Aristotle

Criticism is truly hard to take no matter how it is given.  There are however different types of criticism, constructive criticism that is meant to help you do your job better, usually administered by someone who would like to see you succeed in your work, and criticism given by a born critic.  Some people are plagued with a negative mindset and pretty much anything and everything will fail on the scale of their opinion.  They tend to thrive on negative thoughts, and if there is nothing bad going on, they are sure to invent it!

It is easy to grow defensive of our own work, after all you have spent a good amount of your personal blood, sweat and tears laboring away to accomplish something and then someone comes along and tears it all down with a comment.  The fact of the matter is, there is no way on earth you will ever be able to satisfy everyone, you can try hard at it, but if that is what you are attempting to do, prepare for great disappointment!  The best attitude to have when working on anything is to be ready and accept the fact from the beginning that you will be met with criticism.

The good news is, being criticized means that you are doing something!  Only those who do not do anything, never try anything, are too afraid to make any move are the only ones that never receive any criticism! So if you are being criticized, this could be a wonderful compliment, it means that you are going somewhere.  Criticizing can be due to many things, perhaps others are jealous of you and what you are able to accomplish, so in order to elevate themselves they will attempt to put you down.  They might just be chronic criticizers who have little or nothing else to do and therefore they have taken on this activity as their “profession”.  And yes there is the true friend who really would like to see you succeed and so he offers you a sincere criticism in order to help you to perfect what you are doing.

Leaders are usually subjected to a lot of criticism.  They are often in their position because of the fact that they are good leaders, but good or bad as they may be, because they are going places and doing things, they are the target of a lot of criticism!  You cannot desire leadership if you are afraid of being criticized, spoken bad about or eventually even hated by others.  This unfortunately comes with the job of a leader.  But a good leader will be open to this fact, be able to wade through the criticism, pick out what might be relevant and learn from it without being offended. If you are affected by criticism, do not seek out a leadership position!

I really do not look forward to election time, as despite the fact that debate is necessary in order to arrive to the solution in any matter, during the campaign stage there is so much senseless mudslinging on both sides of the aisle.  What those who tend to sling mud don’t take into consideration is:”he who throws dirt loses ground!” Most of the criticism is not constructive, if it were it would not just accentuate the obvious problem but rather clearly offer a solution.

So if you are a victim of criticism, cheer up, you may be doing something.  Just don’t let it get you down and to stop moving at all! Look at the criticism and try to evaluate whether it holds any possible point in truth and make any modifications that you deem necessary. We are all subject to the gossip of others, unfortunately that comes with life, just don’t let it be what influences your every decision!

How do you take criticism? Do you use it to make you better or allow it to  weaken you through feelings of failure?

Leadership Lessons Part 1

A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” — David Gergen

The role of a leader is something that you grow into after you have learned what it means to follow.  There are certain attributes that a leader must have and they are vision, , inspiration, initiative and courage, the guts to see something through.  A true leader is one that doesn’t need to continue to remind everyone that he is the boss. He inspires others with a desire to join in because it is evident that he is going somewhere.

Being a leader does not mean to lord authority over others and be continuously barking out orders.  It is having a vision for a certain job or project, the ability to impart the vision to others to the point that they too are excited to have the chance to take part in it.  A leader is also a person who is capable of recognizing his limitations and when it is time to confer with others who may be able to offer sound advice.

If you are a real leader, you will not feel threatened that others will take your place but rather you will pull other in that show signs of  leadership potential and will surround yourself by them.  By doing so you will be able to both benefit from their input and  train them to carry on should you have to take a leave of absence.

It is a common error when one is freshly pulled into a place of leadership that they over-compensate and err in many of the above mentioned areas.  They think that they need to prove their capability to be “in charge”, but then end up losing the following that they so desperately need in order to complete a mission. Seasoned leaders inspire a solid trust from their followers, as a follower you feel more secure if you are part of the “team” and not just part of the “pack”.

A real leader knows that he needs a team, he cultivates his team and makes them feel at ease around him, they know that if they have another seemingly better idea, they can in all confidence share their ideas without feeling as though they are not yielding to his leadership.  There is a free and trusting bi-directional flow of communication .

What do you admire about a good leader? Do you have a boss that you feel inspired by, or rather do you feel you are not being heard?  Share your points here!

Brown-Noser or Contributor?

“The danger in the leader-follower relationship is the assumption that the leader’s interpretation must dominate. If this assumption exists on the part of either the leader or the follower, creativity and problem-solving processes become stifled” — Patsi Krakoff

Any truly great leader or boss, if he is going to accomplish anything, knows that he needs to surround him or herself with people who are going to be honest and able to speak up if they see things differently than themselves.

At the workplace, it is normal that when you have just joined the team, you have everything to learn and it is time then to sit back and take it all in and learn how things are done.  But as time goes on, and you are given greater responsibility within the organization, it should become your responsibility along with everyone else to seek out ways that can help to improve productivity or service.

Too many people believe that in order to keep their job they need to become “yes-men” and just always agree with the boss.  In certain circumstances, like in emergencies, this could be what is needed, however on the long-term you will not be contributing in the way that is necessary in order to make the needed progress.

A boss who looks for people to “suck-up” to him is really insecure in his own leadership.  He feels the need to have someone affirm his position

Don't seek out this reward!

whether sincerely or not, as it tends to feed their pride. But it is better to inspire participation than it is to demand total submission.  A good leader seeks out help and knows that he, in himself, is not the “all-in-all”.  He builds a team around him, and after getting to know his team he then knows who he can pass the ball to trusting that it will not get fumbled.

The big problem with a “brown-noser” is that they are most likely to act as though they are with you whilst in your presence, but they are quick to criticize you when they are with others.  Most are entirely double-faced and can tend to cause more problems for the organization than good. The idea in the end is to build a good team so that it wins in the end, as in sports, if one team member thinks that he has to always carry the ball, the game will most likely be lost.

So if you want to keep your job, or make sure your business stays afloat, be a contributor, not just a wimpy bottom smoocher!  Your boss needs you more than he might lead on to make you think.  Naturally, keep in mind that you don’t know everything either, so don’t become over-confident or cocky either, as this also is of no help.  Be a team-player, be a contributor!