What Did You Do Today?

Weltmacht USA

How many times in our lives did we hear the question, “What did you do today”?  Those 5 words would hang in the air and our response had the full attention of mom, dad or both.   Depending on our age the response was either simplistic and straightforward or our older more mature responses were intentionally vague to keep others guessing at what was going on inside our worlds.  It was always a probe sent out by mom and dad to see what was going on with this alien-like teenager they didn’t fully understand.  It seemed reasonable that a response would be shared based on the conversation starter they threw out.  They missed the part where most teens learned that single syllable responses ended parents quest the fastest.

Well, all those fun memories aside, it’s time to start answering this question again today.  What did you do today?  Did you make a difference in the world today?  Did you impact someone’s life positively?  What impact did you have over the 8-9 hours you were in the world on your own?  Is there something or someone to show for your time?  Maybe there was a life you changed in some small way through your actions.  Maybe there was a decision that changed due to your work and effort.  All these things add up to your mark in the world and you are writing it every day.  We all need to think about the traces of ourselves we leave behind.  Hopefully, we want the impact to be a positive one.  Are we doing the right acts for that to happen?  If you feel like you might not be doing the proper things up to this point that’s the beauty of the process.  Change now, make your traces powerful and remembered by others going forward.

As we sat back on this Memorial Day and remembered all the veterans who answered this question 90, 60 or 10 years ago with the most powerful answer to give; do we realize that we have a long way to go before we’ve sacrificed much at all?  Reflecting on the purpose of Memorial Day we recognize that if not for those brave men and women who are willing to lay down their life for a bigger purpose we would not be in this great country we find ourselves in today.  We may not even have the freedoms to ask this question.  Go out every day to answer the question, “What did you do today”?  Give it everything you’ve got and leave nothing behind.  Our mission at The Growth Factory is to help create and develop better leaders and managers to have an overall impact on their companies and every person they come into contact with.  We hope you find your purpose and live it out to the best of your abilities.

Wishing you Good Growth.


Love Your Day Job & Find Your Passion

do what you love word abstract

It has been said that “If you do what you love you will never work a day in your life”.  We all know this is true, but the challenge is being able to find it and support our life responsibilities at the same time.  We all have things we love to do, things that make us happy and enjoy life.  Then, we go to work and we do something different.  So, how do you combine what excites and motivates you with your everyday job?  This is the magic that’s needed to change our point of view.  Do what you love and reduce the things that hold you back.

Here is the reality of where we stand.  Most of us do not have a job that fulfills our passion.  It is said that less than one-third of graduates are even coming out into jobs related to their majors.

WOW!!  It’s not a simple task to find our passion against these odds.  Right now, I want you to look yourself in the mirror and say “If I want it, I can find it”,  and repeat “If I want it, I can find it”.  Now, let’s dig into beginning the process of making this happen.

Today I am not going to tell you to quit your job and start your own e-business or anything like that.  Of course, if you can follow your passion that way, by all means, do it.  I want to focus on the 75% of the population that is taking care of their family or themselves with a career that falls short of their passion.  So, how do you bring that into your current situation?  If we can think of our life as a puzzle it takes a lot of pieces to put us all together.  The key is bringing the passion pieces of your puzzle to the forefront more often.  Here are a few ideas of what I mean.

  1.  Look for a project you can volunteer for with an opportunity to express your creative side that’s held back with your daily work.
  2. Look for a charitable connection at your job that will allow you to combine a work skill with a great community outreach that more closely aligns with your passion.
  3. Look for a position in another department that may allow you to move closer to what it is that you’re truly looking for.
  4. Be an idea generator. See if you can think of a new product or concept for your business that allows you the opportunity to create an ideal job.
  5. Help others achieve more. For many, your passion can be fed through others rather than yourself.  So, do all you can to help increase the role of others in what you do.  Standing in the shadows and watching the success of a team can fulfill certain individuals.  If that’s you, find a way.
  6. Use a tool like Linkedin and start connecting with individuals that can create a bridge to your goal.  Find others with the passion role you seek and start up a conversation.  Don’t be afraid to show humility in reaching out to folks whom you share that same passion with.  After all, what is there to lose?  Several people I know have created their own opportunity this way.

My point is this.  If you sit here and complain, nothing will happen to take you in a positive direction closer to your passion and doing what you love.  That is unacceptable! As a coach and a leader, I want more for you than that.  I want to see people reaching their goals.  The reason I do what I do is to help make that happen every day.  Life is full of pathways we must choose to take.  So, please start choosing them with the end in mind.  Seek your desires and strive to go for it rather than heading for the cliff like lemmings.  Be inspired, “go for it” and try to reach that place, that job, that business, that charity or whatever it is you desire to make every day a pleasure and not feel like work at all.

Good Luck and Great Growth in all you do.


Put Me In, Coach!

Sitting on the benchAs cliché as that title is I had to use it.  It conjures up the correct mindset for the blog. Since I have you picturing in your mind some time in the past when you were in pee wee football, t-ball, softball, volleyball you name it and you can recall looking to a coach and asking for playing time or just some attention.

In business, coaching takes on a different but similar approach and impact to your employees.  They are looking to you for mentoring and help to achieve the next job opportunity or project.  You, as the leader, have a responsibility to your team to make each one of your team members consistently better.

How do you do it???  “TOSS EM” the ball and let them run!

If you have read any of my prior blogs you know I’m a guy that likes to have a plan for things.  Sometimes it’s in a formula and sometimes in an acronym.  Mentoring and coaching come down to following a certain path with your team and helping them get to where you need to take them.  So, here is an acronym for you “TOSS EM”.

“T” – Trust.  It is the key to great coaching and it’s required.  If your team does not trust you nothing else will matter.  Building trust takes time.  Doing what you say you will do when you say you’ll do it.  Also, offering a certain level of transparency to your team so they’re able to clearly see your motives.

“O” – Open the door and release talent.  This simply means that as a great coach and leader, under most circumstances, you know that your team will operate better if they’re left to themselves to work through things with their own creativity and talents and not be micromanaged each step of the way.

“S” –  Status Quo must go.  Allowing things from the past and the “we always have done it that way” limit your creativity and output as a team or individual is a killer.  So, as a coach, you must make sure you remove any of those barriers that might be there and allow the team to move freely and creatively

“S” –  Simple Strategic Goals.  You must help the individuals set clear, easily definable and achievable goals.  Goals must be easy to measure and have accountability built into them.

“E” – Execution.   Execution of goals, plans and projects are critical.   Setting all the goals is great, but getting the work done correctly and on time is confidence to help the individual grow and want to take on more and more over time.

“M” – Make feedback a priority.  Slow down and listen.  The feedback I am talking about here is the individual and teams feedback to you, not yours to them.  You should be ready to listen to suggestions and be open minded to considering a change.  Once you have heard what the team needs to say then it is fair game to offer your own observations to help them as well.  Just don’t shut down their feedback or ever retaliate with feedback to them for what they said to you.  That will not only destroy feedback but it will destroy trust and any chance you have of being a successful coach.

Look out for your team and “TOSS EM” the ball.  Chances are they will run up the score for you.

Wishing you growth and success.


Vision – Strategy = Chaos

Choices of a businessman

How many times do you hear the story about the visionary leading their business to some incredible new heights with an innovative dream turned to reality?  This is always inspiring and it does make for a great book or movie but they are leaving one of the key parts out.  The “How” is often ignored in these scripts and that is because it is the boring work that is done to bring the vision alive.  But without the “How” there is no vision brought to life.

Vision – Strategy = Chaos

Taking your eyes off the strategy at any point in carrying out a vision will derail it.  To see something that you want to attain and not being able to build a realistic way to achieve it will leave you disappointed.  With all the NCAA games happening lately this felt like a fitting analogy.  When shooting a jump shot, the vision is the ball leaving your hand and going in the basket for 2 or 3 points.  But, if that is all we envision, and we ignore the defender, our outcome will be different.  As we envision the ball going into the basket the defender simultaneously wants to block our shot and if we ignore that short-term challenge (the hand coming to block your shot) our vision soon turns into a blocked shot, the ball on the court, a turnover and points for the other team – in other words “CHAOS”!  We stop this by knowing how to keep the defender away from our shooter and allowing the vision a chance at success as no vision is 100% assured without planning and execution.

So, in business, we see the vision we set out to achieve.  We then, must sit down with our teams and communicate that vision or path to our success and ask them for the strategies to keep our path clear to achieve our goal.  We need to keep that defender away and allow our vision a clear shot at success.  So, teamwork in the office is the same as the basketball court.  There will always be playmakers on the court and in the office, but the whole team must perform each of their roles to make everything a success.  The last key ingredient to making it all move is execution and we will talk more about it in detail in a later blog, but wanted to add it to the success equation today.  There is no success without execution.  We spend a lot of time coaching this communication in our Top GEAR and LEVER groups with leaders looking for a way to help ensure more success out of their business visions and plans.  We strive to help leaders see that it takes more than just a vision to grow or succeed.  You have to be able to show a path to getting it all done and implemented to truly win.

Vision + Strategy + Execution = Success

Wishing you growth and success in all you do.


Make Accountability S.I.M.P.L.E.

Close up of girl's hand placing the last jigsaw puzzle piece wit

What do you think of when you hear the word accountability?

Does it create feelings of uneasiness…fear…frustration…excitement?  For most managers, accountability brings on the feelings of concern and challenges.  We think about how hard it is to have a culture of true accountability where our teams self-manage and hold each other to the tasks and dates needed to keep things humming along.  Instead, we view it as an onerous, difficult thing that is very hard to control consistently and yield positive outcomes.

Maybe the best place to start is taking a look at the definition of accountability.  I like the straightforward version of “Doing what you said you would do, how and when you said you would do it.”  If we start there with that simple definition, then the rest of the process should be SIMPLE also.  Accountability forces us to stay out of excuses and blame and instead take ownership and responsibility.  So, then how to keep accountability SIMPLE?

Well, let me try and spell it out for you:

S – Set Expectations – Keep communication clear.  Stress urgency and importance of the task and define scope and responsibilities clearly.

I – Invite Commitment – Try to get buy in on any project/task is invaluable.  Put it all in writing to avoid any ambiguity and model accountability yourself.

M – Measure Progress – Set clear quantifiable goals.  Measure performance to these goals and always be coaching to keep on target.

P – Provide feedback – When there are issues, focus on the bad behaviors and don’t make it personal by attacking the individuals.  Avoid the tendency to micro-manage and jumping in.  Trust in the team and provide guidance.

L – Link to Consequences – Motivation is critical for success and both the carrot and the stick will work here.  It just depends on the team and the project.

– Evaluate –  When complete, perform the post mortem.  Review the process and the people.  You cannot create a culture of accountability overnight.

If you can follow the steps outlined you will be taking great strides quickly, but it still takes some time to create habits and form a culture with consistent behaviors.  These simple 6 steps can help you form the backbone of a great system and if they are repeated regularly you will move your team(s) and culture in a great direction.  We just had one of our group classes work through accountability this week and they were all very excited to take this to their businesses and give it a real-world shot.  We will be hearing back from them soon, on what I am sure are, their successes.

Wishing you growth and success.


What Do You Think?

What Do You Think

As leaders and managers, we tend to take our fulfillment from answering questions and making decisions.  While these are very important things we do, we need to make sure they are done appropriately and at the right time.  If we simply “do” all the time, how do we mentor?   We need to make sure we develop our teams to be able to take on more and more responsibility as they grow.  If all they hear from you daily is “do that” and after that “do this” when is there decision making turned up?   Answer: (see I just did it, jump in to answer).  Eventually, their problem-solving muscles are going to atrophy from lack of use and they will begin to be discouraged and even look for other opportunities where they will be able to contribute more.  Nobody wants this to happen.  We should want our teams to feel empowered, that their opinion is important and it does matter to the business daily.  So, let’s talk about how we change this approach as there are a couple of simple things to do.  Simple yes, but training our “reacting” muscles to do them can be challenging.

If you have always been a problem-solver the team will notice your changes immediately. Be prepared to address why the change is necessary.  Let them know that you want more out of them and trust them to do more.  Also, share that it is a work in process and may take some time to perfect the process.  So, how do you facilitate it?  There are two techniques that are most effective.

First is the simple “What do you think we should do?” or “How would you handle this?” questions.  These will put your employee on the spot for sure and they may not have an answer the first couple times, but do not jump in.  I know this will be hard not to do because old habits die hard.  Silence is valuable and you must let it happen.  The answers will come, but not from you.  The second builds on the first.  Simply ask your team when they bring you a problem to have at least one solution to share with you.  This will do one of two things.  It will either encourage them to share and express their thoughts or it will force them to think on their own.

These are both simple things but require a large amount of discipline from you to make them happen.  Your team will see the change and begin to adapt to the “new you”.  This will encourage and empower them to be better managers and leaders and help them grow for their own chance for further advancement.  In the end, is that not what being a great manager is about?  We want to make our teams better and stronger.  By doing this you have increased their accountability and they no longer have to defer that to you.  Now, you are asking them to share in that role and become what they set out to be in the first place.  This all sounds interesting and probably some things that could work, but… What do you think?

Wishing you success and growth.


Good Luck Finding A Talented Leader

Businessman standing with back against city

Or, at least one who will tell me everything I need to know in a couple of hours interviewing!

At one point or another, we all have the charge to hire employees.   If you are an Executive in a business, you will be hiring other managers to step in and lead your teams,  divisions or so on.  So, how do you make sure you have hired the right person?  I wish I could say it was simple & just do 1-2-3.  By now, you’ve figured out it’s not.  Let’s see if we might create a slightly more effective approach and at least offer some ideas.

For our discussions, we are going to be hiring a VP level to run parts of your business.  This role will have significant P & L responsibility.  They will be managing managers as well.

First, we need to advertise for the position.  The key is letting folks know.  Whether it’s a referral by word of mouth, an ad (digital or print), it doesn’t matter.  LinkedIn is a great tool for this as it allows you to target and recruit (keyword!).  You want to select this person as much as possible.  Look for the skills and features you feel fit the position and align with the culture, then reach out to these candidates and try to recruit.  In these markets, you need to pursue top talent and don’t wait for it to appear on your doorstep, it won’t.

Once you have what you feel is a qualified candidate you need something additional to give you a subsurface to know who you are talking to.  I, for one, am a strong believer in screenings such as PI, Strengths Finders or Profiles.  These tools aren’t foolproof but they seem to work the best based on experience and feedback.  You want to know what holes might be there so you can address them in the interview to see if the weakness is enough to toss the candidate.   Also, try to better validate those strengths that are indicated in the screening through the interview.  Check their personality, their body language & how they come across in speech.  The screenings are a great preparation tool for the interview process and will signal you to address certain aspects of a person that you may not have thought of without it.

Now, to focus on the interview process.  So, how much is too much?  It’s my opinion that a multi-step process for a VP is critical, but a gauntlet is crazy and may cost you a great leader.  This person will need to have at least 4 interviews over 2-3 different days.  Make sure the candidate’s interview across all levels of your company.  This is important because you want to see if a person changes behavior based on who they’re talking to.

Once a person has passed through the interviews it’s also important to bring them outside of the business for a social contact, a spouse dinner or something to get them out of character. This throws in the wild card of spouses and most likely personal things that will be discussed not business related.  Really pay attention here.  How does the candidate relate to their spouse in this setting?  Does the spouse look at the candidate before they speak all the time?  Try to pick up anything here that may give insight into communication style or honesty vs. the person you have interviewed so far.  If a spouse is getting a non-verbal “OK to talk” every time they open their mouth, there is a reason they are being that careful.  Drill into it and save yourself a headache down the road.   You are working through all these steps to try and weed out any of those you feel will not make it.   If you are fortunate enough to have 2-3 that make it to the decision point, you are very lucky.  This is where my decision becomes based on the “X” factor to make the final call.

What is an “X” factor?  It could be something said between interviews or a mention in a thank you note.  Did all the candidates even do thank you notes?  Maybe it was something they brought to an interview or some creativity they showed above and beyond.  Typically, it’s that positive notion you’ve gotten somewhere throughout the process that has stuck with you.  We all know when we have seen it and out of 2-3 people, someone will outshine the others in a small way somewhere.  Coaching to discover the person with that unknown is possible and there are ways to drill into it that I just don’t have space for here.  Finding real grit for the job is a science and an art, but it can be taught.

Wishing you growth.


Do or Die – Delegation or Death (of my business)

Passing the Torch

There’s not a manager I’ve met or talked to that doesn’t have a hard time delegating work to others.  Why is this?  Why do we all tend to resist what can help us be more productive and allow us to focus on more important roles in leadership?  Is it simple control?  Our normal behavior as managers and leaders is to want to do everything ourselves because we know it will be done correctly.  Sound familiar to anyone?

Another famous statement I’ve heard spoken time and time again would be “By the time I show them how to do it I could have done it myself.”  This is the dilemma of delegation.  Wow, it’s a tough nut to crack!  That statement feels like there is some merit to the arguments about time spent teaching versus doing.   But wait, there, right there is the flaw that holds us back.  We never want to account for the tens or hundreds of times into the future this task could be completed for us and thus save us hours upon hours of time.  Yes, any given one instance there is a loss in our time spent teaching versus doing it ourselves.  Or is that even true?  Was the time lost or was it spent investing?  By investing I mean investing into the time you gain later when this task surfaces once again.  Not to mention, the investment in developing your team member to be the support you need.

As managers, in most cases, we got to where we are by being doers, by hitting the door running in the morning and mowing to do’s down like fresh grass.  We thrive on it.  We live for it.  Then someone says “If you show me how to do that, I could start doing it for you each week.”  Suddenly, this causes a break in our view of why we’re important and needed in our roles.  This is where the average manager will operate for most of their time.  They will hold onto work that should be passed on and will fight for it.  Those managers that have evolved beyond this group may allow some work to be done by their team but will replace it with more work that should be done, you guessed it, by their team.  Then, there are the true visionary leaders.  Those that delegate effectively and capture that time they have recouped to work on the business, not in the business.  This allows them the time to think freely, less the clutter of to-do’s that normally would be chasing them down.

Coaching leaders to this last stage of development are one of the bigger challenges because we fight against it so hard. It’s also very rewarding because once we can truly offload the work that should be done by our teams then we can elevate our thoughts to the vision of the business. There, surfaces the creativity that’s needed to drive real growth and change in thriving companies.  Our focus is to teach the value of what to do with this time saved to help inspire great leaders to find a new drive.  We want to help managers understand the liberty in delegating as much as they possibly can to their teams and how to use the time they’re saving to build some of the best companies out there.

Wishing you continued growth,


Copyright © 2017 The Growth Factory

Did I Really Say That?

My guess is that we’ve all experienced a case of this before.  You’re in a meeting with one of your managers or team members and you’re discussing with them a need for change.  The meeting appeared to go well with no red flags and you felt accomplished that all was communicated clearly.  Later, you hear them talking to their team or another team member about what you said and as they are talking you think, “Did I really say that?”  “How did they come up with that interpretation?”  “That’s not at all what I said!”  Welcome to the world of filters and selective listening.  This is something we all do.  Sometimes it’s completely harmless.

How about this scenario? – Your spouse or your child is talking and your mind is focused somewhere else, maybe it’s still wrapped up in business from the day, so you nod and grunt as they talk until they stop.  Then comes, “Well, what do you think?”  Now, you freeze!  You haven’t heard a word they’ve said, but not giving an answer is out of the question.  Here’s my go-to response – “Honey, I think you are right”.  (The prior example was all fictional and never really occurred.)  ; )

In business, this is not going to work.  When we don’t listen well, or hear through our own filters, it can harm our communication and the ability to get things done.  When we choose to hear what, we want, and we don’t confirm what is said, we only set ourselves up for problems.  There’s a simple strategy to solving this problem and it’s called “Active Listening”.  If you learn to practice this technique I assure you that miscommunication involving yourself will drop to nearly nothing.  Here is how it works.  If you follow these few points it will make a major difference:

  1. Acknowledge the person speaking. Make good eye contact.  Nod your head when you’re in agreement.  Your non-verbal cues should be clear as to what you are hearing, giving no mixed messages.
  2. Practice reflective listening – Phrases like “What I am hearing is” or “Sounds like you are saying” are a couple of ways to do this.
  3. If any confusion still exists please clarify and ask questions. “What do you mean when you say?” or “Is this what you mean?”
  4. Assuming is your enemy and I know we’ve, all heard what to A-S-S-U-M-E means. Don’t forget it.

So, I say give it a shot.   These are points that I try to coach to whenever possible to make sure communication is improved and there are not problems created by simple listening mistakes.  It is an easy fix to practice these steps, but it will ensure you are a much better communicator and a great listener.  If there is one skill out there that the world can use a lot more of – it’s listening.  So, avoid that moment when you look at yourself and say “Did I really say that?”

Wishing you great growth.


Try, Try Again…

We can all recall the saying that ends with the three words above, “try, try again”.  How many of us truly live by them?  My observation is that statistics would show not that high of a percentage.  Why is that?  Sure, there are many things we can view as out of our reach or out of our control as we focus on current limitations.  We probably grumble and complain about them daily.  Am I right?  A person’s effort, my friends, is something that is 100% within control.  All the riches can not buy a person’s effort.  No one is handed more of it than others.  A person’s effort is not found in even their physical or mental abilities. As a matter of fact, it’s been proven time and again that effort supersedes both physical and mental capabilities.  It comes from a determination.  Some call it heart, others would say willpower, yet others call it drive.

Okay, so let me say it again and let this statement seep into your minds so that it is rooted there forevermore.  A person’s effort is 100% within their control.

So, if this is the case why are there not hundreds of thousands of people launching new businesses?  Why aren’t the dreamers fulfilling their dreams of opening that new bistro down the street, becoming doctors and lawyers, or climbing that business ladder to success?  Rather than, the percentages are higher of those who are conditioned in such a way that the possibility of success is an outreach.  Everything is stacked up against them and the excuses are endless.  Truly, the only person to blame for wherever we are in this life is ourselves.  It is up to the person living it each day to take ownership of their success.  Let today be the day that you keep your dream alive.  Look in the mirror and tell yourself “today is the day I will succeed”.

Persistence sums up the blend to success.  Effort + Persistence = Success!!  It’s the key to keeping us going.  There will be more falls than not on this journey and we must get back up, dust ourselves off, and go again and again and again.  Thomas Edison failed many times over in his efforts to invent the light bulb until he actually invented the light bulb. When things get tough don’t give up because it may be that next adjustment that gets you over the climb.  If you think things should be easy they usually never are.  Those with persistence will keep pushing until they overcome and will celebrate crashing through the challenges put in front of them.  Have any of you seen the movie, “The Founder”? It’s another great story that drives the point of persistence home.  Ray Kroc was just a man with a crazy idea.  He failed to hit it big with many opportunities, but his persistence finally pushed through to his big deal with McDonald’s and he never looked back.

How about our 2017 Superbowl?  The Patriots stayed the course, maintained persistence to their game plan and methodically began to score.  The game got closer and closer until it was tied.  As it headed into overtime I don’t think there was much doubt on who would win the game after the coin toss.  The score was down 28 to 3 and their persistence to not give up and to keep trying play after play showed drive that not many teams would have.  The Patriots have won their fair share of Superbowls.  They’re winners and they’ve earned it by being persistent and never giving up no matter the odds.  This mindset will take you so many more places than where you’ll end up with a list of excuses.

When asked which Superbowl ring he likes best.  Tom Brady simply answers, “The next one.”  Persistence is not something that’s taught it’s in each one of us waiting to come out.  Unleash the power of it today and make tomorrow whatever you want it to be.  It’s under your control 100%!!

Wishing you continued growth.


Copyright © 2017 The Growth Factory