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The Hi-Tech Hippie

Experience Life

Start with “Why”

It all started a couple years ago when I was working an internship in San Francisco. I was making great money for an intern, living in the suburbs of the city, and having what the recipe for previous generations “happiness” was defined as. Good job, good area, routine, etc…. it wasn’t enough though. I wasn’t happy.

So, I started a self-discovery journey. I started reading books and started listening to podcasts to help find out what it was I wanted from life. Then, I found the Ted Talk from Simon Sinek, which I will attach, called “start with why”. It was so moving that I have easily watched it over 50 times now. It talks about how businesses today don’t know why they do what they do, which brings to question what is a why?

A why is a vision, and a purpose that continues to drive a company and bring it closer to reaching its goals. It is some crazy idea one of the founders had that first began the business or what a group of people all believe in. Do not be confused though, a why is not a result. Often times we say that why we do business is to make a profit, which leads me to my last point.

“Humans need to product red blood cells to survive, just  as a business needs to make profit to survive. Is the only purpose of humans to product red blood cells? Is the only purpose of businesses to make profit?” A quote from Ed freeman that really talks to finding your purpose. Yes, we need red blood cells to survive, but we were put here to do more than that. I challenge you to begin a journey of self-discovery and to find your why… Remember focus on a concept, an idea, a belief that is more than just result.

On purpose,

Matt

Featured post

Metrics – It’s a love/hate thing

On the topic of running organizations from last week, I want to touch on an often talked about subject this week. Metrics and numbers are typically the foundation of the executive level in which they utilize their magnifying glass and are how we hold people “accountable”. I am here to challenge this notion. As I discussed last week, people are liquid. They take the path of least resistance and for most people, numbers are the easy way out. We should be holding our managers accountable for employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention. Metrics, it’s a love/hate relationship. Let’s talk.

First, the love. Metrics are a key thermometer of a business. Looking at financial statements and understanding if your business is healthy is extremely important. These different documents allow you not only to see where the business may be hurting, but also where you can utilize different resources to improve. Overall they also give you different types of feedback, not just financial. You can use surveys to talk to your customers, employees, and even suppliers. Not only can you get a lot of information in a short period of time, but it also allows you to have a diversified look at your business or a potential business you are looking to invest in. The numbers are very crucial, but as I said earlier it’s a love/hate relationship. Here comes the hate.

“Just as businesses cannot live without profit, humans cannot live without red blood cells. The sole purpose of humans is not to just make red blood cells, just as the sole purpose of business should not be to just make a profit.” This is a quote from Edward Freeman and the conscious capitalism model. As I said earlier people take the path of least resistance, which typically in business is the metrics. We have so much information and different ways of slicing and dicing it that we can paint any type of picture we want. That is one of the problems of metrics. We can manipulate the numbers to show what we want, whether it is stagnating opex, sales growth, or justification for expansions in the business. Another problem with metrics and numbers is that they only show one level. Simon Sinek talks about this in more detail in saying that we do not know the impact past the metric. An example would be that we could see that sales have grown, but what you didn’t see was that because we had a training that grew our people. They then became more knowledgeable to then sell better to our clients who in turn became more loyal. We only saw the number, not the trail that led to it. The last piece I dislike about numbers is that it affects the people. At the end of the day people are the most important asset a company has, yet the easiest way to justify the numbers is by sacrificing the people. This mindset has led to many people losing jobs, careers, and affected more than just the company’s bottom line.

At the end of the day we need to switch our focus, we need to change the perception of how we run our organizations. We are more than just a bottom line. I just finished reading a book I  mentioned in the past called 12 Elements of Great Managing and a quote from the book goes as follows; “…business tolerates interpersonal incompetence, where it would never allow financial malfeasance.” How often do we see this in an organization? Where people in managerial roles care more about the number rather than the people under them! Simon Sinek also talks about this subject and says that we need to change the way we promote within our business. We give our employees that get groomed for upper management financial training from day one. The area we are lacking in is the people side. Our employees get really good at doing the day to day operations it takes to run our individual businesses. After years of doing so they get promoted into positions where they are no longer responsible for the numbers, but responsible for the people who are responsible for the numbers, resulting in a micromanage environment that creates hostility in the work place. We need to train our people to understand people, not just numbers.

Choosing the path less traveled is never easy. I understand that, but the problem is that this is something we cannot continue to sacrifice. We need to have an understanding of our financials and how to utilize them, but we need to have a better understanding of how our people work and how we can offer them the opportunities to get better, grow, and learn. Just as you want the best for your children at home, we should want the best for our employees at work. At the end of the day if we take care of our people, our people take care of our customers, and our customers take care of our shareholders.

On purpose,

Matt

People Are Liquid

The definition of a liquid is as follows, ”A liquid is a nearly in-compressible fluid that conforms to the shape of its container…”. Taking water for instance, it fills to the shape of the container in which you pour it and does not compress well in that container. How can you relate this to people? The organizational structure as well the culture and environment of your company is your container. While the rules and regulations you place on your people are the compression you place on the “container” itself. Let’s talk.

I was sitting at work one day thinking about company culture and it’s impact on the people. The way I look at it is the following, you need to set a tone and clear understanding with your people about what you believe and value as well as clear expectations for all your employees. This is actually the first element of the book I just finished called The 12 Elements of Great Managing, which states that you know what is expected of your at work. The culture and environment drive those expectations. So, first as a manager you must build your container. Set and establish the expectations and the tone you want to run vibrant through your team. Most often as managers we forget that we hold the power to shape our container and we also forget that people are liquids.

When you look at a group of people within an organization we find a multitude of different personalities as well as age ranges. Now that the millennial generation has begun to take over the workforce we see that the “container” has been overlooked for quite some time and we now place more value on the result, rather than the people. I think this is one of the reasons why millennials leave companies early on in their career. I also think this is why most workforce’s, including millennials, break rules and regulations. When a culture or environment is tolerant of any and all things the container then becomes bigger. Then when you add the pressure to try to confine this behavior the liquid simply moves to another area of the container. Then next thing you know, your trying to put a twin sheet on a king size mattress. Maintain your container!

The pressure I’m talking about are the rules and regulations that you put in place for your people. They do not need to be a long complex list of HR policies that often send a mind numbing chill down your spine once year when you get the email telling you to read the code of conduct that has turned into a small novel pontificating about the dos and donots in which you must abide for the next decade of your life. These are simply rules that are checks to keep your container intact. What you allow to happen in your place of work defines the shape and size of your container, often alleviating the pressure you try to place on it. This is why companies that have poor culture often see high attrition rates and the “siloing” effect on departments and divisions.

Let’s recap. You as a manager set the culture that is allowed in your company/branch/region/lemonade stand. That culture is your container. You have the visions and the values that you instill in your people through training, workshops, etc…That allow you show your symbol to attract similar minded people. All things that you say and do are symbols of what you believe. Ensuring people understand that is very crucial to you maintaining your container. Not only because people will then support your beliefs, but also because then you are no longer the only one holding the group accountable. The second part is setting the right pressure. Allow rules and regulations that can be easily understood and well received by the group. You don’t always have to be the bad guy, but you do need to maintain some pressure or the container may become useless. Use your symbols to inspire people to join your cause and mold the culture you desire in your companies.

People take shape to the culture that is allowed, just as liquids take shape to their containers. Instead of griping about the problems about your company or complaining about your people not taking care of customers, start molding the shape of your container. At the end of the day we as managers think we are responsible for the result. Not only is this a flawed logic it also creates a repetitive cycle of our managers managing numbers and bodies rather than lives and people. I’m here to challenge the status quo. Do your part as a manager and do the same. People are the most important asset to a company and we need to start treating them like a heartbeat instead of a number.

On purpose,

Matt

The Measuring Stick of Expectation

We all have an idea of what our expectations of what our ideal life is. We try to define what happiness and success mean to us, and translate that into our actions and daily lives. The problem is that we aren’t always the one to hold ourselves to what we believe and use other people, our family, friends, the media, and other areas to measure our lives against theirs. It’s that damn measuring stick of expectation, let’s talk.

Ronny was a running back for a local high school in Denver. He was coming into his senior season and was on track to break most of the school records this coming season. He had already had interest from multiple Division 1 schools and was looking at having his entire school paid for through a football scholarship. Ronny’s father was also a football star. During his career in college he tore his ACL during his freshman campaign leading him to eventually step away from the sport due to complications with his knee among other injuries. Ronny has always wanted to learn about getting into the travel and tourism industry, but the schools he is looking at do not have a program for it. Ronny’s father continually pressures him into looking at following in his footsteps to play Division 1 football, yet Ronny is torn between his father’s expectations and his own aspirations.

Sammy was a successful student and entrepreneur all throughout his academic career. He started his first business in high school doing lawn care and landscaping. He then started his own fraternity and raised all funds to support it including finding multiple sponsors for all events held. Sammy then became a salesman at a successful fortune 500 company upon graduation. Sammy and his college girlfriend moved to Minneapolis where he would be covering the entire state of Minnesota to support his customer base. He quickly became successful, to no surprise of his peers, family, and girlfriend. One day Sammy was heading to work and was thinking about how as a kid he had always wanted to be a teacher and realized he got lost in making money and being successful along the way. Sammy knew he could not talk to his girlfriend about this because if he were to pursue this career path their lifestyle would change drastically. His girlfriend would not take too kindly to the sudden drop in income that she had become accustomed to from Sammy’s success as a salesman. He also knew he could not talk to his mother, who raised him as a single mother because she worked so hard to get to where she was at and expected Sammy to work as hard as she had to become the VP of her company.

Margaret was a stay at home mom who had three beautiful children and a very successful husband who worked as a travelling consultant for mid-sized manufacturer based out of the Midwest. Margaret was responsible for taking care of the kids and getting them to all their respective practices, recitals, and games. She also had to keep up on the housework and preparing the meals for the family. One problem she ran into was that her husband often would not be home for weeks at a time as his job covered the Midwest. When Margaret was in college she had gone to a meeting for a photography club and had aspirations to start her own small business for different types of events from graduations to weddings. This got put on hold as she met her husband and before she knew it had three babies and a family to support. Her husband expects her to take care of everything while he is on the road, but she is starting to feel overwhelmed and is starting to not be able to keep up. She wanted to talk to her sister who was in a similar position, but her husband made more money and was able to hire additional help so she couldn’t relate to her struggles nor her passion for photography as her sister was happy with where she was at.

Sammy, Ronny, and Margaret all are struggling with that damn measuring stick. As humans, one of our faults is that we seek acceptance for the decisions we make and reassurance that we are going down the right path, even when we don’t think it’s the right path for ourselves. We hold ourselves up to the measuring stick of other people’s expectations rather than our own. Ronny was facing his father’s expectation of following in his footsteps to chase football rather than his own passion of travel and tourism.  Sammy was faced with his girlfriend’s new found expectation of the lavish lifestyle they were leading with his profound success at work instead of pursuing his love for teaching. Margaret was stuck in a cycle of falling farther behind on keeping up with her kids. She couldn’t split the work load with her travelling husband and was beginning to regret never pursuing her interest in photography. People are afraid to step out and make a decision that other people may not agree with, even knowing they may regret it. The weight of regret on one person’s shoulders can lead you down even worse paths. Fear is temporary, regret is forever.

Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket. The expectations you hold yourself accountable for are your own and no one else’s. The decisions you make are not measured against anyone else’s beliefs about how you should live your ideal life. Too often we get stuck in trying to make other people happy and we don’t find time for our own happiness. Find what makes you happy, fulfilled, excited, and overjoyed and pursue that. In life, people may not always agree with what you want or where you want to go. People will always be there to throw shame, hate, and blame on what you do… but the people who truly love you and care about you will not hold you to their own measuring stick, but know that you are doing what you think is right and are there to help where they can. Don’t look back on your life and think I wish I would have pursued it and say I’m glad I choose this path.

On purpose,

Matt

Transparency

As we all sit in our cube farms and work vigorously, making the machine that is corporate life slowly chug on down the road, we sit and wonder what is it that we are not seeing? Hearing? The things that continually go on at the executive level that we don’t know about, or even at the regional level that we don’t hear about. Why is it that we don’t have open communication? Why is it that we have to have an “inside man” or a “leak” in the system to get information about what we are doing as a company. This week I’m focusing on transparency, or a lack thereof in corporate companies, let’s talk.

There a few big takeaways from being transparent to your employees. The first reason for transparency is trust. If a husband is out doing something and he doesn’t tell his wife, she will begin questioning what he has been doing in his spare time. When the husband is honest and candid in relaying the information, she becomes relieved. When she senses that he is lying it begins to damage the trust that was once between them. The same happens in a business environment. When a company is open and candid with their communication their employees will not be able to foster a trusting and open relationship with upper management. The same happens with customers, which brings up reason two, loyalty.

Loyalty between a customer and a business is built over time. It is not something that manifests overnight, but through repeated successes and wins with a customer and company. What companies are you loyal to? Why? Customer service? Products? Think about what keeps you coming back and think about how you can replicate that in your respective jobs.

The third takeaway we have with transparency is cooperation. When people know what is going on, they are more likely to work together. This is out of trust for one another, respect, and in general being on the same page as all other groups in your organization. Being transparent in your actions not only increases cooperation, but it improves culture and environment. People are more willing to help each other and grow the group as an organization rather than as an individual. As I have spoken on in the past we must rely on each other if we want to survive as a species. We are better together (Simon Sineks new book).

The problem with transparency is it’s not easy. Upper management is who controls where “important” information goes or does not. They control the flood gates. Through transparency we can see that we function better as a group. We can focus more on helping each other rather than helping ourselves. Upper management is also the one who set the vision of where the company is headed. So ask yourself, in a company lacking transparency, do you want to continue walking blindfolded?

On purpose,

Matt

Mindset – The Easy Fix

Simon Sinek was talking about a story in one of his talks about a time where a friend and he had just finished a race. After the race, they headed to the line where they were handing out different “freebies” from different vendors, one of which was a large myriad of bagels that had Simon’s name all over it. He told his friend that he wanted to get one of the bagels and his friend responded with, “but Simon look at this line, we will have to wait forever.” This drew him to the conclusion that there are two ways people see the world, some people see what they want and some people see what stops them from getting what they want. It’s a belief or a perception of how you see the world. It is how you think, your mindset…and it’s the easy fix. Let’s talk.

As I have said in the past, your perception of the world is built and based upon the previous experiences you’ve had and the values your parents instilled in you as a child. These are what can lead to the two aforementioned mindsets of seeing what you want or seeing what stopping you. Each of these mindsets are both understandable and have benefits to each, but in my opinion we need to have more of people who see what they want and go after it.

People who have the perception of seeing what they want are often optimists. They have a more positive outlook on life. They are the type of people who have large networks, but may not always have the deepest connections with everyone in that network. These are more often the dreamers and creative people, who think outside the box and dabble in the unknown. The people who have the perception of seeing what is stopping them from getting to what they want are often realists. They bring balance and sanity to the world. They bring the people above back to reality. They are often looking at facts, figures, and ROIs of projects and investments. As I said above there is no problem with either, but I think we don’t have enough people who go after what they want.

We all have different definitions of success, failure, love, happiness, and all emotions as I talked about in my article about SDTR (self-defining terms of relativity). I think the problem is that we don’t figure out what that truly means to each one of us until it’s too late. We get stuck in this ideology of if I get something I will then feel this. Then by the time we figure out what we want it’s “to late”. We continually search for what society, our parents, or our friends deem as the definition of these words. We never define it ourselves. The problem then begins to show as debts rise, relationships fail, addictions increase, and people become less fulfilled by the things they are doing. How do we change it?

Start early. Head down the path of finding out what these things mean to you. Try a new sport, chase a dream, find a new hobby, and meet new people! Go out somewhere and be alone, step outside your comfort zone. We so often get caught up in these definitions of how our lives should look based on our surroundings and never take the time to figure it out by ourselves. The sooner you can start looking into how you define these beliefs the sooner you can go after that bagel, or find that career you love, or travel the country you’ve always wanted to see. The first step to getting somewhere is not finding the final destination, but taking that first step.

Find out what is important to you and take the first step. See what you want and go after it. You can continually look at the million reasons why you’re not able to or what it is that won’t allow you too, or you can find the one reason why you should. Don’t look back at your life and wonder what if, look back knowing you have a story to tell about a journey and a path that allowed you to become that person you are today.

On purpose,

Matt

More than a Resume

In the world of business, you are defined by a few things typically. Some people look at the title you have behind your name. Some look at the years of experience you have. Some look at the degrees and plaques you have hanging on your wall. Some people even look at your company name, yet while all of these things are admirable… there is still more to you than the plaques you get and the years you have under your belt. You are more than what you can fit on that 8.5×11 you give to your potential employer, let’s talk.

I began thinking about this topic again as I am beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I am finishing up a 2 year training program with a company called Rexel. After this program I will be moving into a more permanent full time role in which I am currently interviewing for. While preparing for my interview I began to think about all of these things and thought about some of the intangibles that you can put down on a piece of paper. I wanted to outline them and truly show that it shouldn’t always come down to your resume.

First up is character. Character is about what you believe, how you were brought up, and your “moral” compass. It is often overlooked until it bites you in the rear. We can find this information out about a potential employee by talking with previous employers and the associates he/she had worked with in the past. People with similar beliefs and values allow teams to be more cohesive as well as trusting in a shorter period of time. You may see similar beliefs and values, but you don’t want all the same people doing the same thing. This is the beauty of trait number two, Perspective.

Perspective is the way you perceive and interpret the world and its inhabitants. Perception is based on the summation of your experience in life and is different for all people. We often forget that all people are different and don’t “walk a mile” in their shoes. It allows us to not only diversify our problem solving abilities, but also creates an opportunity for learning. Someone who sees all the details in a problem may not understand the big picture. Someone who is used to the creative process may not be able to stick to a strict schedule. This is why humans have survived for so long. We were meant to work together. We don’t need to be good at everything. This is why we need to have trust, transparency, and build strong relationships with the people we work with.

The third thing we can all bring that is hard to measure is energy. One of the things I pride myself on is to get people energized around an idea and I do it through my own excitement for that idea. I remember going to one of our leadership trainings and talking with a few of my coworkers about the karaoke event we were going to have at the end of the training and how many of them were dreading it. I kept talking with them about how excited I was for it and how great it would be and brought my excitement level up to try to rub off on them. Then after a couple beers… and my persistence we got them up on that stage! It’s not only about me being energetic, but it’s also showing that we can be vulnerable. If you are willing to stick your neck out, to make a fool of yourself, to show your people that the environment they are in is safe. Safe environments allow us to begin building trust among one another. If you don’t have the energy, then use your passion. Passion shines through and you can tell when people truly care about something. Speak openly, honestly, and with energy about the things you care about and you will see the reciprocity not only in growth of your company, but in the togetherness of your team.

The last thing that we often talk about yet is not measured by your resume is leadership. Now, I know you want to argue with me. “Matt…. I was the team captain of my college sports team, I the head of the outdoor recreation group, and I started a volunteer team to raise money for local charities”… and so on that you have listed on that paper. I understand that you have been in a role of managing people or resources, but leadership has nothing to do with your rank in a company or a title behind your name. Many people who hold high positions in companies are not leaders, while some of the lowest level employees possess amazing leadership skills. Leadership is a choice and that choice is self-sacrifice. As I was touching on earlier, sticking your neck out for people shows that you care. People often mistake leadership as something we can learn just in a classroom or after a week of training. If it was that easy then why do we not have leaders running around rampant in our companies?? It’s because it’s not! We know that working out for an hour a month will not get you a six-pack. Yet we think going to a leadership course for a week prepares you to be a leader for the rest of your career. Evolution not revolution, sustained change is not an overnight process. You must work at it just as some people work on their fitness or their sport or whatever facet of life you are trying to improve upon. Every single day getting one percent better and improving while focusing on the process, not the result.

I have said it before and I’ll say it until my time is up; it’s not about the result. The 8.5×11 sheet of paper will tell people all about your results. Then employers will compare you among the 500 other candidates and see how your results stack up. It’s not about the result, it’s about the process. Focus on getting better each and every day in order to see yourself continually grow. This will also begin to open up your mindset which will take you beyond that piece of paper. So, I hope when you sit down to talk about your next career opportunity with your future employer, you can say I understand I may not have the most experience. I know I may not know everything, but here are some qualities about me you don’t see on that piece of paper…

On purpose,

Matt

The Science of Acceptance

We want likes, shares, re-posts, favorites, or whatever you want to call it, because we seek acceptance. Some of why we seek it is based in how we were built and how we function, some in how we are social animals, but I think the biggest reason is in our fear of rejection. The science of acceptance, let’s talk.

A long time ago when we all spoke in grunts and killed food with spears we were a group hominid social animals living throughout the world. We lived in groups of people in which we relied on each other to gather food, protect each other, and survive. Some people were the hunters that went out and protected the tribe, some stayed back to keep track of the youth, some were builders, and so on… We all played a different role in these groups and worked together. This is the reason we have lasted longer than any other species, we have not always been the strongest, biggest, or fastest, but we have worked together to take care of each other and ensure each other’s safety and security. This leads me to my first topic, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Maslow came up with a theory in which he structured the needs of the human race into different categories. There are five total, but I want to focus on the first three; physiological, safety, and belonging. First is physiological, this is where your most basic needs are met. Food, water, protection from the elements and other functions that are crucial to our ability to survive. Next is safety. This has developed into a multitude of types of security, but at its base level it is security in knowing that you will not die or be killed, a great asset that comes with being a part of a group. This is the first sign of acceptance that we see. In older times we had to look out for each other while others were sleeping or working in order to survive and if someone were to ostracize themselves from the group they would be left to defend themselves, hence group living. We need each other to survive and prosper. This leads into the third level of the hierarchy, belonging. We want to belong to a group, we want to be accepted not only for the safety and security, but to be a part of something that is bigger than just ourselves. At the end of the day we don’t find fulfillment by doing things ourselves. It’s about sharing those moments with others that allow us to feel fulfilled and satisfied with what we are doing with our lives. There is also another play that we as humans feel, chemically, involving dopamine and oxytocin.

Dopamine and Oxytocin are two of the four chemicals that represent happiness. To hear more in depth about all of them, listen to the Simon Sinek talk called “Leaders eat last” on YouTube. Dopamine is released when we achieve our goals or accomplish something. Other activities that release dopamine include, drinking, gambling, drugs, and even your cell phone. This is why we seek out the like, retweet, favorite, and so on because it gives us a “hit” of dopamine. Dopamine is very addictive and this is why you see people become engulfed and dependent upon these substances mentioned above, including your cellphone. This is why people and our society as a whole have become obsessed with the result. I believe that we have become so asphyxiated on acquiring things that we have become addicted to dopamine and another chemical called serotonin. Between these two chemicals we can see that we try to find acceptance through the acquiring of material goods and “Status”. We strive to be a part of a group so badly that we look for any avenue to get it, like buying a car or seeking more promotions at work. It is a mindset of “keeping up with the Joneses” or seeking that next dopamine fix. It is a great chemical and allows us to accomplish our goals, but be weary in where you find it. Fall in love with the process, not the result and see yourself grow and learn.

The second chemical is oxytocin, which is the chemical that is released by human touch, love, and sexual acts. It also plays a part in our search for acceptance. It is in our best interest to be around other people and to build relationships with them not only from theory set out by Maslow, but also because chemically it drives us as humans. Oxytocin is the reason we enjoy hanging out with our friends and family. It is a chemical that has our best interest in mind. It wants to bring us closer to people and to continue to seek out safety and belonging in those hominid groups as our ancestors did.

The last driver as to why we seek acceptance and why we need acceptance has everything to do with the opposite, rejection. I think we are so afraid of rejection and not being a part of a group that we often find ourselves with groups and people that we may not be happy with. Rejection is such a big factor in our lives that we can fundamentally go against what we believe or what we value to a point in which we drive the groups we want to be a part of away from us. I see this often as we develop into adults, with groups of friends through grade school, middle school, high school, and into college. Find out early on what is important to you and don’t let it waiver. Rejection affects your relationships. Guys won’t ask girls on dates, girls are afraid to make the first move, fear is crippling. We live now in a technology dependent world in which we are losing the ability to deal with this type of emotion. It is not about getting rejected, its about how you react to the rejection. As Rocky said, “It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” Bad things are going to happen in your life, don’t let it change or alter your core values and beliefs and build a support network of people who have similar ideals. How can you find those people? Everything you say and do is a symbol of what you believe, and that symbol will attract people. So who do you want to attract?

In closing, we see that acceptance is a part of our core as humans and is needed for our survival. We cannot let it become our addiction though; we need to learn to function as a group, but also independently. So I challenge you to have the confidence to take the next step, push your limits and make a small change in what you are doing. Try something out on your own and have the confidence to not only accept yourself for who you are and what you are doing, but know that you have a strong network behind you to pick you up when you fail. Growth comes not in stagnation, but in vulnerability and change. We need other people in our lives to support us, but know that we can function on our own when we need to. Go out and experience life and grow each day to get better, because in 20 years do you want to look back and say I wish I had the confidence to have done it, or I’m glad my friends and family were there to support me through it?

On purpose,

Matt

New Year, New Me…. Bull$h#&

This will be the year I quit smoking. This will be the year I lose that weight. This will be the year I…. bull$#@t. This has been a topic that has been bugging me for quite some time. Why is it that we make new year’s resolutions? Why is it that we need a new year to make changes in our lives or businesses? I want to talk about making sustainable changes and how we implement them in our lives in a few ways. Let’s talk.

Time is the one of the main unrenewable resources we have in our lives. So, when I hear that people are waiting for the New Year or utilize the New Year as some type of epiphany to create a change it frustrates me. We have such a limited time on this Earth and we don’t know when it is going to end, so why wait? Also, sustainable change is an evolution not a revolution, which is why there are so many statistics surrounding the failure of these “resolutions.”

The first step in sustainable change is taking a small step. Most often people never take the step, which is the hardest part of making a change, getting going in the right direction. Or, people take to large of a step and never commit to such a drastic change in lifestyle. So, whatever your decision is make it now, not later and make a small commitment before you grow into a bigger one.

The second step, after you have decided what direction you are heading, is keeping it simple. Let’s take losing weight for an example. You may pick a target weight or desired pant size (which we will talk about later) and start working out 5 days a week for an hour. Then after a month you realize how taxing it is and start to cut back eventually dissipating the habit all together. We try to take on too much in the beginning and eventually get overwhelmed. Keep it simple. Try something like once a week for 30 minute and then build on it! Add another day; maybe try eating a healthier option just at breakfast, whatever it is make small changes that you can hold yourself accountable for. This way you can work in more and more small and simple changes to reach your goal. We can thank Tony Horton for the quote, “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body”. The same goes for your business. If you are struggling as a business, you know that it did not happen overnight. So, you can’t assume that you can fix it overnight either. Look at what simple changes you can begin to make and hold people accountable for to begin to fix your problem. Remember evolution, not revolution.

The last piece of sustainable change is about an article I wrote a few weeks ago focusing on the process not the result. As people and businesses we get caught in a mindset of a certain “result”. Things such as; pant size, weight, sales numbers, customer acquisition, sports championships, and so on, yet science shows that goal achievement only give you a short burst of a chemical called dopamine, one of the four main chemicals responsible for happiness. While this is great and in the best interest of you as a human it is short lived and often we fall back into old habits losing the most important part of our goal setting process, sustainability. We need to change our mindset from the result to the process. I see companies who set these large scale goals of hitting sales numbers and we are often fooled because of the scale of the number, when in the end it is still a number. We will eventually reach this goal and then be left to fall back into our old ways. Focusing on the process of what you are doing rather than a result will allow you to not only continually chase and pursue a lifestyle or mindset, but often will push you beyond your original goals and expectations. Let’s look back at our losing weight example. If I said I wanted to lose 20 pounds and over a month or two of eating healthy and exercise I got to my goal weight, then what? I may feel good about myself over the next few weeks and most likely will fall back into old habits that I am accustomed to, just like every other new year’s resolution… Instead, let’s focus on living a healthy lifestyle. Each day I try to move towards having a healthier lifestyle which involves me eating healthier, exercising, and being conscious of what I’m doing in pursuit of this lifestyle. We tie numbers to our goals because it’s easy, we can process and understand numbers. A mindset or lifestyle is a lot harder to quantity because we all define these differently. Don’t take the easy route; choose the pursuit of a process rather than a result.

Sustainable change is something we all continually struggle with. Take small and simple steps in the direction like you would like to take your life or your business. Then focus on the process rather than the result all the while thinking about sustainability. Don’t forget that in the end we are all people and we struggle and may fail. This is the reason we also must rely on each other. The reason the human species has lasted so long is because we are social animals. We have not always been the strongest or the smartest, but we work and live in groups allowing us too take care of each other and grow together. So what are you waiting for? Go out and make the change you want in your life keeping these things in mind. Reach out to your friends and family for support and see your dreams become reality.

On purpose,

Matt

Culture and Environment, The “X” factor among great teams and businesses

As businesses and sports teams we are always focused on acquiring top talent. Our goal is to get the best of the best and that will “solve” our problems and make us the best in our respective areas. I disagree. I think that “A” performers are going to perform well in most environments. We get so caught up with who is on our bus, we forget that were driving it off a cliff. While top performers may not be as impacted negatively by environment, having the right culture and environment can help them grow tremendously and bring those around them to a higher level. Environment and culture play a huge part in developing your teams and creating growth, let’s talk.

Having a great team, whether you are the manager in a business or a coach at a school, is important. A great team is not defined as being all the best players or the top performers. A great team is a group of people who have trust in one another, look out for the group over themselves, and help each other grow and learn. These values are not just instilled in the people; they are installed in the organization or the group. This is how great teams continually perform and how great businesses remain profitable. It’s not about the result, or if someone leaves the team, it’s about the environment and culture of the team which is based in the culture and environment the respective leaders produce. People will come and go, but the environment in your team will always be in your control. The challenge you have as a leader in your company is how do I create the right environment and how do I repeat it and sustain it?

I listened to Simon Sinek talk about the bus metaphor I mentioned earlier and I really think he portrays it well. As I said, we are very concerned with the people on the bus. In sports teams you see it through the acquisition of other players and maxing out salary caps, in business you see head hunters stealing top talent from other companies. For the most part, these people go to these new teams and companies happily as they often get better deals, more money, better schedules or whatever other incentives they can think of.  I don’t want to look at those people though; I want to look the people they didn’t get. The people they have called and offered every benefit under the sun yet they will not leave their company or team, why? I think it’s because the environment and culture they are a part of is something they are not willing to give up. They know that gaining more money or benefits is not worth giving up what they have with the group of people they work with. It is not just about “A” performers. Take care of your people and allow them opportunities for personal and professional growth and watch them blossom. Then when and if you bring more top performers into this growth environment you will watch them not only grow themselves, but bring those around them up. This is why environment is important. It brings your people together and creates loyalty, as well as a thriving culture that allows for innovation, growth, and trust.

Now we can establish that it’s not all about the right people on your bus, environment and culture are more important. Next comes where the bus is headed, vision. Having a vision is something I have talked about before and continually will talk about because it is something that ties people together seeing the connection between why they do what they do and what they are doing. This also affects environment. Your vision directly impacts your culture and your environment. These are mere reflections of what you believe, so having them be in sync not only creates trust with your employees, but also shows them that you are being genuine and authentic. Get the bus going in the right direction and watch your people prosper and grow.

The last piece to this is the bus itself. Another thing that people get caught up in, “keeping up with the joneses”. All I want to say is that a nice bus is just that, nice. It does not affect the aforementioned items. Look at start-ups that being in garages or in college dorm rooms. It’s not about what you’re driving; it’s about having the culture to drive your ideas to fruition and completion.

So what does this mean for you at your desk? How can you make an impact? The good news is you can, but the bad news is it won’t happen overnight.  Sustainable change is like going to the gym. You don’t see results from working out for 8 hours one day a month; you see results from going three times a week for 30 minutes for a year. Continue to make small changes in your office or on your team and preach them constantly. Build the culture you desire by creating the environment you want. Then as people come and go maintain the direction of your bus and the standard you believe in and see your results flourish.

On purpose,

Matt

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