Bouncing back from simple mistakes

I was delivering a teleconference last week on how to make better buying decisions. I use a teleconference service so that people can call in and listen and ask questions and hopefully take away one or two valuable pieces of information. I like to use this service because it also offers downloads of the call which I can then send out for people to listen to on their own time. Only this time, I forgot to press *2 to have the call recorded. Imagine my surprise when I went to download the teleconference and there was nothing there. I called tech support and they confirmed that I was an idiot (they did not actually say that, but I know that they were thinking it).

I had just delivered what I thought was a great one-hour teleconference with a couple of questions and some valuable information…..now it was lost. So I had two choices about how I could handle this situation, I could blame someone else and kick and scream and swear and be frustrated that it was lost or I could accept the mistake and move on. What would be your reaction? I was initially frustrated but then realized that in the grand scheme of things it was not a big deal. I shrugged it off and re-recorded the teleconference so that my listeners could have a copy of it. No harm, no foul, only 45 minutes of a day lost. Think about how you react to simple mistakes and setbacks. Is that how you want to react? If not, change it. Do not waste energy and effort on things that cannot be changed. Focus your efforts on moving forward.

I welcome your comments.

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How do I get more time?

Have you ever said to yourself "I wish that there was more time in the day" or "I just did not have enough time to finish it?" The one thing that we cannot make more of is time, so what do we do about it? Time management is one of the most under-rated skills in a world that is moving at a faster pace than ever before. There is information everywhere so how do we know what to read or watch?

Here is what you can do: trim the fat. Get rid of activities that you do not like to do (unless they are directly related to supporting your family or maintaining your health). Stop doing three things for a week and see if your life changes for the worse (you may find it changes for the better). Track your daily activities in a time sheet to see where you are spending most of your time. Outsource or get volunteers to do everything that you can….filing, invoicing, editing, whatever it might be. If you even do one of those things above, you will gain back life's most precious commodity (no not diamonds), time.

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What can we learn from Tom Watson?

Seeing Tom Watson have an opportunity to be the oldest player to win a major golf tournament was inspiring if nothing else. Here is a 59 year-old playing against players 30 years younger who are bigger and stronger, and he almost pulled it out. It is inspiring because it shows that regardless of your age or your ability, you can always improve and you can always surprise yourself. It also shows us that nobody is perfect. Watson had an 8 foot putt to win the tournament, which would have been the 6th time that he would win this major alone, but he missed it. He then went on to have a disappointing playoff stretch of four holes and lost the tournament. No one is perfect.

Watson's story inspired me in that here was a man who was past his prime and yet he still had the skill, the drive and the determination to almost win a tough golf tournament against a very tough field. I bet if you asked him today, he would have some lessons that he took away from his loss yesterday. He learned something even though he has been golfing for more than 35 years and has had great success in his career. Never stop learning, never stop trying, and one day you just might surprise yourself with your success.

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Everyone needs a business model, even social networks

Most of you will remember the dot com bust in 2000, but do you remember why it happened? Companies had great ideas but no business model. They created websites with great content and were able to draw millions of visitors, then they would sell for a ridiculous price. But what was being purchased? Nothing…..no plan for growing revenue or increasing visitors, no marketing strategy, no analysis of the competitive landscape. Businesses will fail without a business model, a plan on how to do business. This does not mean financial projections, this means a strategy for finding new customers and retaining existing ones. Even I, as someone that runs a small consulting firm of one, have a business model. I have a 12 step model of how I will interact with new prospects and how I will continue to provide value for my existing clients.

I am fearful that many of the social networking sites that we currently use so frequently are following along the same path as some of the dotcom busts from 2000. Tell me how Twitter is going to make money….people are getting tired of it already and they do not sell advertising. How about MySpace? Facebook has not been profitable since its inception, yet companies continue to buy up small pieces of it for hundreds of millions of dollars. So what is happening here? People are desparate to find an avenue to the teenagers of today and are willing to pay ridiculous amounts of money to find them. What they forget is that these teenagers hate to spend money and feel that they are entitled to everything for free, like the world owes them something. How do you sell to a demographic like that?

Social networks need to figure out what they want to be and history shows us that it is unlikely that they will be successful without a business model on how to find and retain customers for longer than a few weeks. It should be interesting to see how everything shakes out over the next few years. I am sure you will all be following the progression closely through a series of Tweets and answers to "What am I doing now?"

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Accelerating change

70% of change initiatives fail. 70%. That is a staggering number. That means that only 3 out of every 10 change initiatives are successful. Obviously, people need to get better at implementing new initiatives. But even for those that are successful, organizations tend to move slowly in making the changes. This can be for various reasons…..dissenting staff, poor communication, no direction….I could go on and on. There are three measures that organizations can take to ensure that they are accelerating change initiatives:

- have a clear vision and clear objectives - know what you want to accomplish by the change and what is the desired outcome;

- get support from all sides early and often - find out your supporters and dissenters and communicate effectively and often;

- transition easier areas first - identify those areas that may have an easier transition in order to gain momentum through success and to perfect your transition process.

Do these three things and you will accelerate the success that you achieve through your change initiatives.

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A garbage strike-are you kidding me?

In Toronto (yes, that is in Canada people), there is a strike by the contract workers who collect the garbage and recycling for the city. The strike is now in its third week and the city has designated 19 city parks and arenas as temporary drop off sites for our garbage. Imagine that, using parks and arenas to store our garbage in the middle of summer. But that is not the worst of it…..

The worst part is why there is a strike. The workers want concessions made allowing them to maintain their 18 sick days per year and allow those sick days to be rolled over year over year if not used up and eventually cashed in upon retirement. Time out…..they want to keep 18 paid sick days a year, on top of their 3-4 weeks of paid vacation days and then cash them out for more money when they retire (on top of their pension)? Is this something out of a movie? You have got to be kidding me….in a time when thousands are losing their jobs or their retirements savings, in a time when the competition for everything is greater, in a time when people are watching every penny they spend…..this union has the audacity to ask to maintain sick days with carryover and this is grounds for a strike. What kind of society are we living in?

Toronto is one of the wealthiest cities in North America and we are being held hostage by garbage workers (who get paid extremely well, by the way!)? Unions have their time and place, where workers are being exploited and being taken advantage of. I assure you that this is not the case here…..maybe we need to abolish unions and ban strikes in more prosperous countries. In most cases, the workers represented by the unions make more money and have better benefits than their private sector counterparts. They also have better job security.

I pay my taxes and cannot tolerate a strike for a service that I am paying for….it is not acceptable. In this case, I would let the union workers rot and contract the work to an outside waste management service. Maybe our mayor will have the leadership to actually do something about this. Oh by the way, the same unions also represent city workers at daycares and pools, so most of those are currently shut down as well. Pathetic! I welcome your comments.

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Dealing with adversity

How do you deal with adversity? What do you do when the going gets tough? Do you feel sorry for yourself or are you determined to make things better? How people deal with adversity can tell you a lot about someone. There are those who thrive under the conditions of pressure and others who cower from it.

We need to look at adversity as just a fact of life. Nothing is easy, so you will need to overcome obstacles as we steer through this minefield. Dealing with those obstacles becomes what defines you as a person and as a leader. I want to lead people out of the darkness and into the light, not follow someone into the abyss. I want to lead the charge towards dealing with issues head on and not avoid them until the implode. Tackle adversity head on and sacrifice short-term pain for long-term strength.

Think about how you deal with adversity…..is it something that you would be proud to tell your children about? If not, maybe you need to deal with it differently.

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