You have nothing to prove

You have nothing to prove

I once worked for someone where nothing was ever good enough. I felt like I had to prove myself over and over again no matter how long I had been in the role. It gets exhausting and it crushes your morale and drive to do better.  

You shouldn’t have to live life running through fire every day to prove your worth as a person and as a leader.  Here are some thoughts to help remind you that you have nothing to prove. 

Judge your success by your own standards


Our society today is one of comparison. We want to be like the person living their best Instagram worthy life, our extended friends and family that live in our dream house, or even the jerk that is sitting in the job that is meant for us. 

The problem with comparing yourself to others is that it will always be an unfair comparison and you’ll never be truly satisfied.  Judge your success on your own standards. It doesn’t mean you stop pushing yourself for growth. It means to focus on your individual progress instead of putting it up against other people’s situations.

We talked about this more in-depth way back in PTB Episode 36: Who is your competition?

You can’t please everyone


As an early leader, I know I tried too hard to please everyone. I felt that I wasn’t the best leader unless everyone was happy.  Understand that you aren’t going to please everyone. It’s impossible, because of so many variables in ethics, upbringing, lifestyle, and perspective. 

Lead by what’s best for the group and have confidence in your leadership and decision-making ability. When you live your life this way, you have nothing to prove to the naysayers and doubters.  When a person doesn’t care for your leadership style, accept it, and keep moving forward. 

It only matters what a few people think


It’s easy to get hung up in what other people think of you. You see these scenarios play out in school, work, professional & volunteer organizations and in social circles.  Like a good golden retriever, we want to please others and be liked.

At the end of the day, the most valuable relationships in your life will likely total 10 people are less. This is your innermost circle. These people matter. Outside of that, most people you meet will likely exit your circle at some point in time. 

You can give too much mental space and attention to people that are inconsequential to you in the big scheme of things.

One of my favorite scenes from the Office is when Andy is destroying himself because people on the internet are trolling his youtube videos.  It’s funny how much he loses control but it’s also funny because that reaction is a reality for many people. 

You determine your happiness


At the end of the day, you determine your level of happiness no matter the circumstances in your life. No one can take your happiness away from you unless you allow them to.  

Your definition of happiness may be very different from someone else’s. Others strive for the biggest beach house that they can’t afford and you may just want to live in a tiny house on the side of a mountain. 

Chase what makes YOU happy instead of allowing others to build a narrative that you have to prove yourself towards time and time again. 

You have nothing to prove to anyone but yourself, (a new job or client being the exception). Push yourself for growth and let success follow you. 


Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Does the desire for time really mean a desire for more meaningful memories?

Does the desire for time really mean a desire for more meaningful memories?

I’m a big-time management guy.  It’s a subject that I get a lot of questions about at Passing the Baton and when I’m meeting people in the real world.  Recently the question and idea came up about the desire for time versus the desire for more personal experiences.  Could the aching desire for more meaningful memories actually be disguising itself as a desire for more time?

I want more time to spend outside of work


Let’s say you are already doing well with your time and you still want more time outside of work.  Evaluate your time in a given week and see how much leisure time you actually have. It’s likely higher than you think. 

  • Use your calendar to determine your average amount of leisure time. This alone may be the wake-up call that you are spending more time doing things that have little significance. 
  • Pull out your hobby, friends, family, education, and health maintenance time. Examine the quality of those times. Are they being utilized well or is there a lot of wasted time? How about technology’s impact on those times? 
  • Time perception is real. How we perceive our time impacts how we spend it.  If you feel like you have no time, you are likely more stressed about it and aren’t using it all efficiently. On the other hand, those that feel like they have a good grasp and control over their time get more out of the moments they create.

What you think you spend your time on and what you actually spend your time on might be more different than you realize. 

I need more space


I always tell people to schedule their free time. I know it sounds weird. John shares a story years ago when he started doing this. He started scheduling daily water intake and playtime with his kids. Wouldn’t you know it, he started getting healthier and enjoyed more memories with family. 

Scheduling off times and space protects it from other time-wasters and other priorities from stealing it away from you. Place memory-building activities on your calendar. It doesn’t always have to be a grand adventure; it can be as simple as a date with someone or a phone call to an old friend. 

I need help being in the moment


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become much more aware of being in the moment. I no longer take the situation or time for granted anymore. I think of it as memory imprinting. I’m very aware of what’s going on around me and I’m actively building that memory as I live it out. It may sound odd, but it has certainly helped me. Here are some tips to help you with memory imprints. 

  • Call out details in your mind as you are in the moment. What are the smells? What are you wearing? What is the weather like? What are the key things going on around you? I love doing this on film sets. There’s always a ton going on and its fun to remember all the behind-the-scenes things happening when it comes out on the big screen. 
  • Think back and reflect on the time soon after it wraps up. This will help solidify the memory in your mind. I usually reflect back immediately after it’s over and then a couple of times the following days. 
  • Eliminate all distractions. Another plus about the film industry is that you are not allowed to have phones on set. It forces you to be fully in the moment. That experience has taught me that there are times when I need to put up my phone. I know that I have missed memorable moments because I’ve had my face in a phone. Make sure that you are not that person. 
  • Grow an appreciation for the moment. Realize that the moment you are in is a snapshot, never to be repeated again. (Even if it’s an ongoing event like work or Friday nights with friends) Each event is different and the circumstances of these events will change before you know it. 

I need help remembering


Our minds can be a frustrating thing. You want to hold on to retain quality memories and experiences, but it’s constantly dumping that info so that it can process new ones. There are a couple of options that I would recommend to help catalog and enjoy your memories. 

Daily Journal – Use it as part of your morning routine or at the end of the day. This doesn’t have to be a significant amount of writing every day, just enough to catalog the high points. A side benefit of this is that it may open up creativity and a larger desire to write and compose. It also gives you a semi-detailed look back so that you can see the progress that you’ve made. 

1 Second Everday APP – I found myself frustrated that I wasn’t remembering as much as I wanted to. The creator of 1SE felt the same way and that’s why he built this app. Basically what you do is take a picture every day and then the app catalogs it and can make things like slideshows and movies out of them. You can also just browse daily pictures if you’d like. 

The app forced me to be on the lookout for good moments and appreciate them more as they happened. It also helped me remember them. I’m currently looking back 7 months and I remember the details of every one of those events. I highly recommend the app to others. 

The desire for more memories is often the starting point of some type of time management. Regardless of the motivation, I would encourage you to pursue it. Passing the Baton teaches online classes several times a year and I would certainly recommend Lee Cockerell’s Time Management Magic for people to read. 

Enjoy your time and make great memories. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

The trouble with managing to the exception

The trouble with managing to the exception

Managing to the exception is something you encounter on a daily basis. You see warnings and disclaimers all the time in the food industry and on the product that you buy. Who would have thought that Legos are a choking hazard and a rare steak is not fully cooked? Have you ever worked in an environment where they had some weird rule or restriction because someone at some point did something they shouldn’t have? 

How does exception management happen and how can we fight it? 

How it manifests


You’ll often see managing to the exception come about in one of three ways:

A) A project, product, or service is slow to implement because it’s not perfect. There is a demand to keep refining the process to meet the need of every possible scenario. 

B) Anytime a leader lets something of small importance drive a decision of large importance. 

C) Policies and procedures are written in anticipation or as a response to a one-off encounter or event. 

What it does to your team


Managing to the exception can have several negative effects on your team.  

  • It may make them feel like you don’t trust them. 
  • It inevitably leads to less productivity. 
  • It lowers the value of other policies and procedures that are truly important.
  • It may cause people to doubt your decision-making ability. 
  • It can make the employee feel like they are a liability and not an asset.

Call it out


It’s important to call out exceptions when you see them so that they don’t then become engrained in a project or a policy. It’s okay to say, “I think this is the exception to the rule,” during a meeting. You’ve likely seen one of these side notes or comments ending up taking over a meeting. Have the courage to speak up and nip it in the bud so that you can continue on with things that are more important. If there is still debate on the validity of the issue, bring it offline and talk with the person about their concerns. 

Ask yourself if the issue or concern is a deal-breaker or not. If it is, address it on a large scale. If not, take care of the exception and move forward. 

Have a look back period


A yearly review of policies and procedures is a good practice to ensure that you are not bogging your teams down with unnecessary regulations and hurdles to efficiency. What needs to be updated? What needs to be erased? Look for things that are outdated and are holding your team back. 

I typically recommend a set of policies and a set of guidelines for organizations. Policies are strict tactical pieces needed to do your business. How you handle your money, ethics, information security, and safety would all be examples of policies. Guidelines would be just that. “Here are our preferences and guardrails in this situation.” Dress code, customer issues, branding standards, and vendor management would be examples here. 

Ideally, your policies should be small compared to your guidelines. Both offer a standard, with guidelines offering flexibility to suit the situation while policies are set in stone. Some companies have bloated policies because they have no guidelines. 

Handle the one-off and exceptions when they occur, just don’t let it drive your business and how you approach your team. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Managing boundaries in meetings

Managing boundaries in meetings

Studies show that over a third of all meetings are unproductive. Maybe you have sat through a few yourself!  Many high profile leaders and CEOs take meetings very seriously to keep the meeting times and the company as efficient as possible. 

Meetings don’t have to be a huge time suck and resource waster for you or your team. 

Stay on track


Have you ever become frustrated because you found the meeting going off the rails because the room is talking about everything but the items related to the reason for the meeting? It can happen easily enough and before you know it either your meeting is running over or you didn’t accomplish the goal and you have to meet again. 

My friends in the talent development industry often deploy a “parking lot” strategy to keep meetings focused. They will bring a giant sticky pad of paper upfront and if something comes up that begins to bring them off-topic, they will note it in the parking lot and have someone follow-up on it after the meeting.  I’ve seen meetings where the parking lot is filled and others where it’s empty because no one wants their idea up there. 

Agendas with times for each person are another great tool as long as everyone agrees to keep to it. Put an expectation and plan in place to keep your team focused on the reason for being in the meeting.

Respect the time and try to beat it


If you use an agenda with time allotments, make sure that you stick to it and do your best to beat it. I’ve been in meetings where a financial update was always given a standard 10 minutes. The person could have updated the team in 2 minutes, but always used 10 minutes because that’s what they had. 

If you reach the end of your time, table the rest for next time, or follow-up in a post-meeting communication. If the issue is of top importance for the meeting, ask if someone can give up some of their time so you can finish. Just don’t make it a habit to do so. 

How many slides do you need?


Many people use slides because it helps them keep on track and it enhances the communication to the team. Just as many people use slides as a crutch by simply reading each slide or use it as a filler for their allotted time. 

Check yourself on the reasons for your slides and the value that they add to the group. If you are just simply reading slides, try to do your portion once without them. It will push you in your presentation skills and will likely lower your time. Help for good powerpoint presentations is out there if you search for it. The Atlanta Chapter of ATD usually offers a seminar of creative Powerpoint a couple of times a year and it’s one of our most popular events. 

Do you even need the meeting?


Sometimes we caught get up in meetings just for the sake of meetings. For some leaders, it gives them a sense of connection and work accomplishment. Go through your calendar and determine if the meeting is actually warranted. Perhaps two can be combined into one. Maybe you can meet less often. There are likely hidden efficiencies in your meeting calendar. 

Include only those that are truly needed


As you look at your calendar of meetings, perhaps you see ones that do need to happen but don’t really require that you attend. Work with the leader of the meeting to excuse yourself and ask for meeting notes if needed.  Reverse the idea for the meetings that you lead. Look at the room and determine who really needs to be there. 

One of the most frustrating things for a good employee to deal with is sitting through meetings that are unnecessary for them to be in. It’s a waste of their time and your resources. 

Keep your meetings focused and as short as possible. Determine the right people in the room and free people up to do their jobs outside of the meeting space. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Finding Leadership in Jurassic World

Finding Leadership in Jurassic World

I know why we’re here.  A rescue op, save the dinosaurs from an island that’s about to explode.  What could go wrong?
-Owen (Chris Pratt)

Jurassic World is one of the highest grossest movies ever made and for good reason. It’s got a relatable hero, action, drama and of course dinosaurs. Through two movies (and an upcoming third), we see Owen and the gang navigate all sorts of dangers while strengthening the relationships with each other. There are a few leadership lessons that we can learn from a dinosaur trainer. 

Calm under pressure


Owen is certainly a leader that remains calm under pressure. You see this at the beginning of the first movie as he is training the velociraptors and then continue to see it play out over the next two movies. In several scenes, Owen stays calm under chaos and lives as a result, while those around him that can’t handle the pressure and don’t make it out alive.

Being level-headed in tough situations will serve you well. Understand where your strengths and weaknesses are in regards to your reaction in challenging situations. For me, it’s easy to remain calm in crisis situations while I have to more mindful while dealing with people who are generally angry and lash out at others. 

Remember that being a calm person doesn’t mean you have to be a bump on a log with no personality. Owen is witty, sarcastic and funny. Be yourself and keep calm when the pressure mounts. 

People who fail to learn from the past often repeat it


The underlying principle in Jurassic World is people repeat their failures when they don’t learn from them. Strip away some of the fluff and Jurrasic World is exactly like the original Jurassic Park. Nice park, everything looks great, evil person tries to steal Dinosaur IP, Dinos get loose, run for your life.

Failure is needed for you to grow as a person and for your company to grow. It shows that you are trying new things and continuing to push forward in your journey of growth. We sometimes have a tendency to be ashamed of those failures and quickly try to sweep them under the rug and move on. 

Take time to reflect on the whys and reasons behind the failure. It will teach you valuable lessons and help you move forward in a healthy way. 

Don’t celebrate too early


A classic scene in all of the Jurassic movies is the early celebration. It’s like the helicopter pilot in Jurrasic World who thinks he made it out only to be eaten by a giant dinosaur in the end. Make sure that you celebrate your wins with your team and yourself, just not too early. It’s cost athletes their win, companies their lead, and embarrassment for others.

Make sure it’s a done deal and then party. 

Leaders have to put themselves between danger and their team. 


Videos that show people putting themselves in harm’s way to save or help someone else regularly go viral on the internet. Almost always, it’s a regular person and complete stranger to the one that needs assistance. We love a good hero that sacrifices their safety for those of others.

Owen puts himself between his friends and danger constantly in the new Jurassic World movies. His concern is obviously higher for those he cares about above himself. What monsters out there have you have thrown yourself in front of to protect your friends, family, and co-workers?  Maybe it’s not a killer dinosaur, but perhaps it was a bully, a safety issue or a tough conversation in a meeting. I often see my role as a leader as a shield to keep as much of the garbage from hitting my team as possible. A good leader does what needs to be done to protect their team. 

Live your life like a good dinosaur trainer. Be brave, level headed, and learn from your mistakes. Step up to help others and celebrate after you’ve accomplished your goal. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Finding Leadership in the Avengers

Finding Leadership in the Avengers

There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, to see if we could become something more.
-Nick Fury

The Avengers have fully taken over the world. Their universe in TV and film has spanned over 10 years and amassed billions in ticket sales alone. It seems we can’t enough of our beloved heroes. Underneath all the space travel, intergalactic wars and Avenger-level threats lie several leadership lessons we can take away and apply in the real world. 

Ordinary people, extraordinary powers


If you look at the Avengers, most of them are ordinary people who came across extraordinary power along their journey.  It’s the reason why we relate to these characters so well. 

  • Spider-man: High school kid bit by a spider. 
  • Captain America: Underweight Army soldier injected with super serum.
  • Hulk: Scientist covered in gamma radiation. 
  • Star-Lord: Regular guy who grew up in space. 
  • Ant-Man: Nerdy ex-con who uses a shrinking suit. 
  • Captain Marvel, Black Widow, War Machine, Winter Soldier: Military personnel. 
  • Black Panther: Leader of his country Wakanda. 

Sure the suits and accessories are cool, but it’s their character that gives them true power. They are inspiring, brave and bold all the while carrying the human flaws that we have. Let your character be your superpower. Be bold as you help others achieve success. Be brave in those though moments of decision making and leadership moments. Be humble as you lead others. 

Continual learners and leaders of development


Every character that has been around the Marvel Universe for a while now has shown some type of character and personal development. Perhaps the greatest of those is Tony Stark. 

Tony is the first character from the universe that we meet. He’s incredibly cocky, naive to the collateral damage he creates and can’t hold down a meaningful relationship. Over 10 years, you see Tony become a true hero both inside and outside of the suit. He’s grown to be a caring man, understands the values of relationships, and is certainly sacrificial. Ironman didn’t stop growing as a person once he had the suit, although he could have. 

He is a great reminder for us to continue on in our own journey. Maybe you are building the next great thing. Perhaps you just got that job you always wanted. Don’t stop there. Keep growing and investing in yourself. 

Even the greatest heroes fail


Marvel movies are filled with our favorite heroes failing. From Captain America failing to bring Bucky back to the good side to the whole team’s failure to save the universe in Infinity War. If you think about Thor, he fails about as much as he succeeds. 

Some stay down longer after a defeat than others, but they all bounce back and face their failures head-on. They learn lessons from their experience and use that to help them come back stronger than ever. 

It’s ok to fail. As a leader, you need some level of failure in your life. It keeps you grounded and shows that you are trying new things. Don’t let those lessons destroy you. Learn what you can, sit on the sidelines for a minute to regain yourself and jump back into the action. 

You cant hold onto it forever


Several of the original Avengers have come, and are continuing to, realize that you can’t hold on to your spot forever, no matter how much you enjoy doing it. They built in their own succession plans in friends, family, and colleagues. Yes, the Avengers know the value of passing the baton. 

Plan your time in leadership and life like it is short. In all likelihood, it’s already shorter than you think it is. Grow the next generation to take on the legacy that you have built. 

Learn these lessons and assemble a great leadership reputation. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Finding leadership in Star Wars (New Trilogy)

Finding leadership in Star Wars (New Trilogy)

(Leia) would say, hope is like the sun. If you only believe in it when you can see it, you’ll never make it through the night.
– Vice Admiral Holdo

The newest trilogy of Star Wars movies closes out the Skywalker Saga; a story told over nine movies and three generations. The final three movies introduce the group of heroes that are responsible for carrying on the mission set by those that came before them.

In a way, it reminds me of the newer two generations entering the workforce. Both are forced to deal with the success and failures of the generations before them as well. There are a few good takeaways that we can learn from these movies. 

Finding yourself


The latest trilogy dives into characters more than either trilogy before it with the story really focusing on Rey and Ben’s story of self-discovery. Who am I? What’s my purpose in this place? While Ben chases after identity without even realizing it, Rey is desperate to find out who she is and who her parents are. 

We all want to have a purpose in this life. We want life to mean something. Take time for yourself to Find your Calling (PTB Ep. 161). People sometimes miss this step in pursuit of a great job, career or relationship. Your identity as a person is not what you do or who you are with. Search your identity out. Take a vacation or time for yourself without distraction. Reconnect with your passion projects, causes, and hobbies. 

Understand your why and let it be the force that guides you in your journey. 

Do it your way


There is a very vocal minority out there that don’t like the newest movie. “That’s not how Luke is,” or “She’s shouldn’t have powers so fast.” These people are constantly putting the newest generation up in comparison to their own. Thinking that Luke’s generation is the gold standard, they find it almost impossible for anyone after them to live up to the task. 

Sound familiar? 

Do things your way. Rey’s training was not like Luke’s, but Luke’s was not like anyone else’s before him either. If you are part of the newer generations entering leadership, learn from those before you but be bold enough to do it your own way. You get to write your own story.  For those that have been around a while, be a good mentor and teacher to those coming after you. Give them the freedom to try new things and don’t quelch their creativity and uniqueness. 

Rey and her friends were victorious because they relied on each other and forged their own path. 

Breaking Generational Sin 


The Skywalker Saga originally started out as the story of Luke and then shifted to his father. It then shifted to Darth Vader’s grandson in the third trilogy. Each generation of Skywalker dealt with the pull of the Dark Side with some being more successful than others. 

Emperor Palpatine is present throughout all three trilogies and can be seen as the embodiment of evil, tempting each generation of Skywalker to fall to the Dark Side. Darth Vader lost. Luke thought that he won. It wasn’t until the third generation that Palpatine (evil) was truly defeated.  

People struggle with generational sin. It can be difficult to step out of the shadows, traps, and habits of our parents. It is possible to defeat. Show determination. Get help. Stay accountable. You are not doomed to repeat the failures of those before you. Some past shows that can help you on this journey include:

How an accountability partner can help (EP 191)
My letter for the hurting leader (EP 158)
Stuck in the waiting room of life (EP 118)

Learn from the generations before you before they are gone, and break the cycle of generational sin while doing it in your own unique way. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Finding Leadership in Star Wars (Original Trilogy)

Finding Leadership in Star Wars (Original Trilogy)

Never tell me the odds!
-Han Solo

The Star Wars Saga is my favorite set of movies. I would lose a whole day during summer break watching all three of the original movies back to back and often played Star Wars in the back yard and the forests surrounding our house. You don’t have to be a huge Star Wars fan to understand and appreciate the leadership lessons that it provides. 

A story of true personal development 


Luke starts out as a naive and enthusiastic kid in the first movie. By the second movie, he has matured some but now carries a sense of overconfidence which costs him dearly in the end. As we meet Luke in the last movie, he is totally different from the first film. He’s now grounded, confident, but not cocky and begins to show his wisdom. It’s a great reminder that we should always be looking to grow ourselves.

How have you changed in the last year? What are you working on to master or upgrade your skills and talent? What are you a Jedi in and what are you Apprentice at? 

A story of friends and teamwork


The victories had by the rebels would have not of been possible had they not looked out for and taken care of each other. The power of teamwork certainly shows in these movies. Without it, all of the rebels would have been killed in each movie. The Death Star wins. The movie ends after Hoth. The Death Star wins again.  It’s a very motivational story of odds that can be overcome with a small dedicated team focusing on a common goal. 

Your success and business lives and dies by the strength of your team. Take time to take care of them. Look out for them when they journey off on their own and fall into trouble. Don’t write people off. Give them the support and direction they need to be successful. Be willing to sacrifice important things for the betterment of the team. 

Be willing to ask for help


We sometimes let our lack of awareness of our skillset, overconfidence and/or ego get in the way of asking for help.  The old jokes about men’s willingness to continue making mistakes before asking for directions or reading the instructions are funny because they are often true. The main characters thankfully do not have this same character hangup and it often saved them as a result. 

Leia- Sent the droids to Obi-Wan to ask for help in the rebellion. She’s a princess and a general but knows when she needs assistance. 

Luke- Asked Obi-Wan to train him. He reached out to Leia to help him after losing his battle with Darth Vader. He went to Yoda twice looking for help in growing his skills as a Jedi. 

Han- Even the headstrong and cocky space smuggler asked for help. He asked for help when blinded from being frozen and reached out to the cute Ewoks to help take down the mighty Empire. 

Let go of the things that keep you from reaching out for help from others. I’ve seen it set back and destroy careers because a person never asked for help and then continued to dig themselves further into trouble. No one thinks less of you if you need a hand. We all do from time to time. 

Do or do not. There is no try. 


Sometimes people want to know every little detail before they make a decision and then beat themselves up with second-guessing after they do. Learn as much as you can to minimize risk in a reasonable amount of time. Then make the choice to do something. Something is always going to be going on at work and in life and there is no perfect time to put your plan into place. 

Destroying both Death Stars, the group getting saved at Cloud City and escaping from Hoth all came from last-minute decisions that were put into action. The group would not have survived any of those encounters otherwise. 

Be brave and bold in your decision making. Rally your team and work towards the agreed-upon destination. 

Take care of your friends and teammates. Invest in yourself, let go of ego and become decisive. Once you harness that power, never let someone tell you the odds. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

The importance of a morning routine

The importance of a morning routine

Certainly, you’ve heard the tales of accomplished CEOs and leaders and their morning routines. They typically wake up super early, do a bunch of stuff and then head out on their day. Is a 4:30 AM wake-up call what you need to be productive? Are night owls lost to a life of inefficiency? Hope for a productive morning is not lost.

Here are some ways to tackle your day head-on. 

Help tomorrow today


To help my mornings start well, I actually plan out my day at the end of the day prior. When I get going in the office, I already have a list of priorities and then it’s just a matter of fitting them in based on need and creativity level.

Before going to bed, I pick out my clothes for the next day and set them aside so I don’t have to think about it when I wake up.  These routines just build more space and mental freedom for you to start the day off right. When I wake up I don’t have to worry about clothes, what I am going to do,  or where my keys are. 

I live by the motto, “Always help out your future self.”

Earlier is better 


Now, I’m not going to tell you that you need to start getting up three hours earlier in order to maximize your day. I will say that you probably could benefit from getting up earlier, even if it’s just 30 minutes. 

The main point about rising earlier is that you build in space for yourself. It’s 100% you time. This space gives you some margin to take care of yourself and set the stage mentally for the rest of the day. 

Set an alarm if needed and avoid the snooze button. Many studies and reports say that hitting snooze does more damage than it helps.  Once it’s time to get up, go ahead and do it. Procrastination is not your friend here. 

What do you do?


If you look up routines of top business leaders you’ll often see a common thread that they do some, if not all, of the following: Breakfast, prayer/meditation, exercise. 

  • Having a good breakfast helps your body get going for the day. It can be as complex as the “part of a complete breakfast” ensemble or as simple as fruit or a breakfast smoothie. Listen to what your body wants in the morning. 
  • Prayer and meditation can also be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Some people keep thankful/gratitude journals, others pray, others study, and others just are mindful to be present in the moment. Find that right balance for you. 
  • Exercise is a topic I’ve covered numerous times at PTB. Just from experience, I will say morning exercise is easier at the start than at the end of your day. You don’t have a list of excuses and drama from the day to get in the way of completing your routine. Good exercise will benefit your body and mind as you rock the day. 

People also use this space to write, create, work on a special side project, call loved ones and catch up on the news and other items. Fill it with what matters most to you and make adjustments as needed. 

Take small steps


Just like any other habit that you are building, it takes time. Don’t get discouraged if your routine doesn’t instantly take off for you. Try a few days a week and then step up your routine from there. 

Find other people in your business and personal life that you admire and ask them what their normal routine is. You may gain valuable insight and can model your progress after those around you. 

Start your day off right with a good morning routine. Your mind and body will be fresh and you’ll find new energy and focus as you conquer the day. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Manage performance instead of micromanaging

Manage performance instead of micromanaging

Most managers that micromanage others don’t do it just to ruin someone’s day. It’s often rooted in a person’s leadership ability and personal aptitude. Insecurity in their own leadership or an overly-detailed (OCD) person can find themselves susceptible to micromanagement. 

These leaders also likely don’t even realize that they are this type of manager. They often pride themselves in running a tight ship, keeping a high standard and they feel they are accountable for all results. On rarer occasions, a micromanager will use this management style to manipulate and shift blame away from themselves. 

The impact on your team


The impact of micromanagement is profound on a team. Here are just a few of the ways that it can impact your team. 

They are less productive. A motivated employee is a productive employee. An easy way to demotivate and slow down efficiency is to bog them down in reports and a feeling like they are being watched all the time. 

Turnover is higher. High turnover is a very costly part of doing business. Think about the knowledge loss, the productivity loss, the hiring costs and time to get a new person trained. It adds up quickly!

Innovation is destroyed. Creativity often goes to zero in these environments. The team is discouraged from trying anything new and when they do have a new idea they will not voice it to their manager. 

Morale and trust are eroded.  Micromanagement is a morale killer. The team will no longer go the extra mile, only stay for each other and not the company and they lose trust in their manager. When enough people get fed up they will also act together to slow down production and subvert the leader.

Signs that you are, in fact, a micromanager


You may say to yourself, “That’s not me. I give my people the freedom and space that they need.”  Below are some signs of micromanaging that will either affirm your thoughts or help serve as a wake-up call. 

  • Little to no delegation.
  • You insert yourself into other people’s work without consulting with them.
  • Monitor low priority items and expect regular reports on those items. 
  • Requiring unnecessary and overly-detailed reports.
  • Asking for reports that you don’t examine or look at. 
  • Wanting to know what everyone is doing all of the time. 
  • You reach out about work items during off-hours. 
  • You have meetings about the meeting that you were just in. 
  • Things have to be done your way.

How to step away from micromanaging


Maybe you are a full-blown micromanager or perhaps you micromanage on occasion. Either way, you can step away from this management style by following these ideas. 

Give them more responsibility. Giving a person more responsibility than you are initially comfortable with can be hard. This will help establish the trust that has been eroded away in the past. 

Be open to multiple paths. Allow your team to work their own path to a solution as long as it stays in the parameters that have been set. Think of yourself as a coach and less a taskmaster. Great coaches build thorough plays but allow their key players to call an audible and change direction in order to score. 

Poll your people. Ask your team how they would like to be lead and what motivates and demotivates them. Hearing their feedback will give you actionable steps to take going forward. 

Put up boundaries. Commit to establishing boundaries in communication. Keep off of the team’s downtime unless it’s an absolute emergency and keep your off times truly off from work. Don’t check your email and don’t have your team update you. 

Start small and keep it simple. You don’t have to make a 180-degree turn in micromanaging overnight. Start small and begin to step back from this management style. Simplify your instructions and reporting as you move forward. 

You don’t have to be that guy or gal. Give your team the freedom to do what you hired them to do and watch a new level of productivity and success come as a result. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Our 5th Anniversary! A look back at positional vs. relational leadership

Our 5th Anniversary! A look back at positional vs. relational leadership

As a leader you have a choice; be the reason that they show up or the reason they run away. 

There are a ton of leadership books and theory out there, but at the end of the day leadership falls into one of two camps; positional leadership and relational leadership. One gets you a short-term win, while the other provides you a path for long term success. 

Positional Leadership


Positional leaders rely on the power of job titles to get the job done through others. Think of any military in the world and they all follow this premise: You follow me because it says that you have to follow me. 

Relationships are very transactional in nature with these leaders as well. You work and do what I ask and in return, I pay you a salary or wage.  Because they see their workforce in this way, they don’t put much effort to build relationships and get to know those around them. Often focused on hitting a goal at all costs or satisfying their own ego, it doesn’t matter too much to them if you stay or go. one of their main concerns, when someone leaves, is a loss in productivity and the inconvenience caused by bringing someone else on. 

Relational Leadership


This person heavily values building lasting, meaningful working relationships. They are aware of building commodity up in a relationship with a peer or colleague before making a withdrawal or asking for a favor.  It doesn’t matter what their title says on a card on their desk, they just want everyone to succeed; the company, themselves and you. 

For a relational leader, how they get things done is just as important as getting to the goal. 

A relational leader doesn’t pull power from their title or standing, instead, they lean heavily on empathy, the praise of their team, self-awareness, and other skills like influencing, and active listening. 

So why aren’t more leaders relational?


This is a simple question that has a more complex answer because it depends on the person and the circumstances that they grew up in. Here are a few reasons why some leaders are more positional and why they never change to a relational approach. 

  • They are modeling what they experienced. Your first boss is a very influential person in your career. They set the expectation that you have for all your future leaders and they play a large role in how you lead yourself once you advance in your career. Leaders can carry over these bad habits along their own careers and may not even realize it. They may also believe that they paid their dues so others need to do so as well. 
  • They have a sense of arrival.  Some leaders fall into the trap of arriving at their career goal and feeling like they are are owed something. 
  • They don’t have a people-focused skill set. Some leaders simply don’t have those soft skills that make a great leader. The trap comes from thinking that they don’t have people-focused skills because of their personality type. You don’t have to be super outgoing or an A-type personality to be a great leader. Some of the strongest leaders I know are more reserved and thoughtful in their approach. 
  • They may feel that leading relationally is weak. Some leaders still believe that you should keep a hard line between your work and life and that leaders who try to lead with a relational approach are weak. “We are here to get the job done and that’s it.” The problem with this approach is that the workforce is changing quickly and leaving this leadership thought behind it. 

Tips to becoming more relational


Every leader can become more rational with their approach to people. Think about some areas that you can improve in with others. 

  • Slow down. As a high-performing leader, this caught me early in my career. I was always in a hurry to get things done. Slow down to spend that quality time with others. Get to know those around you as you work on the same project. Take time to get to know those around you that are just acquaintances. Sometimes this is catching up before jumping into work and other times it’s connecting along the way. 
  • Listen more than you talk. Give others a chance to share their opinion and feel like they are being heard. It helps gain a bigger perspective on the topic and strengthens the relationship with the other person as well. 
  • Celebrate wins both big and small. Look for opportunities to celebrate those around you and the projects or milestones that they are working towards. Bonus points for celebrating your team’s personal accomplishments as well!
  • Be compassionate. Show others care and empathy in your leadership. Put yourself in their shows and give them the benefit of the doubt before making a judgment call on the person or situation. 

Your organization can have the greatest values, wittiest slogans, and heartfelt mission statements, and it won’t matter if its leaders chose to lead by position only. Lean into the power of relational leadership and get the most out of your team. Model great behavior, continue to craft those soft skills, and never stop in your journey to being a better leader. 

Be the leader that you always wanted to serve under. 

Make a better tomorrow.
-ZH

How to build a consistent and authentic culture

How to build a consistent and authentic culture

I’m thankful that we are living in a time where companies are starting to truly see and realize the value of great organizational culture. Culture should be a top priority for all companies. It dictates who you are, and is an ever-increasing factor when employees decide to stay with you or go somewhere else. 

Staying consistent and authentic with your culture can be surprisingly difficult. Scaling business, remote work, multiple locations, new generations of leaders and large scale projects all pull at your culture. Many popular companies like Apple, Ford, Lego, Coke, and others all fell away from their culture at different points and had to take great efforts to bring it all back where things needed to be. 

Thankfully there are steps you can take to ensure that you keep your culture true and strong as you grow. 

Constantly talk about it 


Your team knows what is important by what you talk about. Perhaps more importantly, they know what’s not a priority by what is rarely talked about by their leader. The mission, vision, and values should be threaded through all that you do so that it stays top of mind. 

I have designed feedback loop documents, visit guides and accountability check-ins for several organizations over the years. No matter the industry, I always start the document with culture and values. Always.  Money and financial accountability usually don’t hit until second or even third depending on how strong the culture of the company is.

If your boss consistently comes in and talks about how important culture is and checks to see how your team is living it out, wouldn’t you think that’s a driving factor in your leadership? You’re also likely to pass that perspective on to your team as well. 

Talk about culture at meetings, reviews, and check-ins. The more that it becomes a part of your everyday conversation with others, the better. 

Designate a guardian or team to watch over culture


One of the most common fears for employees in culturally sound fast-growing companies is that the culture is going to take a significant hit as they scale-out business. How do you keep the lightning in the bottle?

Assigning someone, or a team, to act as guardians and keepers of culture is certainly helpful. It gives your employees ownership into what’s most important to the organization and it keeps the leadership team from veering too far off with a different perspective.  A great look for this team would be one person from each department and varying levels of responsibility. 

Authentic cultures don’t focus on just themselves


Season one of Leaders of Atlanta focuses on C-Suite leaders in tech companies across the city. One of the most affirming pieces from my personal perspective was how strong each of their cultures was and how connected they were to each other.  

None of the tech companies were trying to do culture on their own. Yes, they each had a unique voice, but they also learn from each other. What is working? What is not? Each of the leaders also had some type of mentor in their life that made sure they were staying on track personally and professionally. 

Reach out to others around you, both inside and outside your industry to see how you can strengthen culture up back home. 

Don’t confuse perks with culture


Slick furnishings, modern offices, ping pong tables, restocked kitchens and unlimited paid time off are all great things. Some organizations confuse these offerings as their culture. All of these types of things are great perks, but they are simply that; perks. Your perks may point back to the culture that you want in your company, but it can never replace the culture itself. If that were the case, what happens to your culture when the ping pong table breaks?

Use perks as a magnet for new talent and a factor in retention, not as a crutch to fill in your culture needs. 

Protect culture like you would a cherished family member.  Give it the care and the attention it deserves so that it thrives. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Building mental fortitude

Building mental fortitude

Mental fortitude, or grit as it’s sometimes called, can be the deciding factor in your success as a leader and how you persevere through challenging times. Looking back at my time in the military, basic training was really about testing and strengthening a soldier’s mental fortitude. You are pushed to the edge physically, mentally and emotionally to see what you can take and to show yourself that you are capable of more than you think. 

Success is not all about talent and intelligence. People who show strong mental fortitude usually score better on the ACT/SAT, perform better in their jobs and have a higher salary than those that do not.

Control and Commitment


The first two aspects of building your mental fortitude are Control and Commitment.  Control relates to your ability to control your emotions and the sense that you do control how you react to an event or situation. 

Tips to strengthen Control

  • Work to strengthen your Emotional Intelligence (EP 145 – 148)
  • Write out and discuss a plan of action with those impacted. (EP 63, Command Skills)
  • Expose yourself to mildly stressful and anxious situations to build up your resilience. 

Commitment is your level of focus and reliability. This is your ability to set goals and your accountability level to yourself to see it through. 

Tips to strengthen Commitment

  • Work on goal-setting skills. Build benchmarks along the way to hit towards the goal. 
  • Build strong connections with others. You’ll benefit from leaning on these relationships during this time. 
  • Track your progress in a journal, calendar or other daily/weekly document. 

Think of Control and Commitment as the resilience half of the equation of mental fortitude. 

Challenge and Confidence

The next two aspects of strengthening mental fortitude are Challenge and Confidence. Challenge shows your drive and ability to adapt to a changing environment. 

Tips to grow Challenge

  • Focus on what you can do instead of what you can’t or what is out of your control.
  • Think of challenges and changes as opportunities instead of threats. 
  • Remain flexible and be willing to change course as needed to meet your ultimate goal. 

Confidence is the belief in yourself that you can weather the storm successfully navigate through the event or situation. 

Tips to grow Confidence

  • Focus on the positive and celebrate small wins along the way. 
  • Accept the change as part of living life and focus on the next chapter. 
  • Take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Do some type of physical activity, sleep well and eat as clean as you can. 

Drop the barrier to grit


In my experience, the biggest obstacle to mental fortitude is the habit of feeling sorry for yourself. Think about what thoughts go through your mind as you occupy this space. 

“I can’t believe this happening to me.” – Focuses on yourself and not your ability to react.  

“I don’t deserve this.” – A sense that events happen to you and you have no control over them. 

“I can’t do this.” – A confidence destroyer and self-fulfilling prophecy. 

When you feel yourself slipping into this line of thought, refocus yourself on the mission of getting through the problem or the circumstance. Think through the factual aspect of the scenario and the tactical approach that you need to take to get through it. Doing these things keeps your mind out of those bad spaces. 

Believe in yourself. You are far more capable of getting through tough times that you likely give yourself credit for. You are in control. Put a plan in place and have confidently have the drive to pull yourself through. I believe that you can do it. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Find Your Job Series: Develop Your Plan

Find Your Job Series: Develop Your Plan

You’ve spent time identifying your interest, your skills, and your ideal environment.  You understand your strengths, what you have to offer and a profile of what the organization you want to get into looks like. It’s now time to develop your plan. 

Develop your targeted companies list 


You should have your industries picked out by now. You’ll use that list plus items you discovered in your ideal environment study to target companies that fit your profile. Sites like zoominfo.com, ReferenceUSA, Glassdoor, and Linkedin can help you build a list based on your industry preference, company size, and geographical preferences. Your targeted list now becomes one of three avenues that you will pursue in landing your job.

  1. Your targeted company list.
  2. Job openings you find. 
  3. Your network.

Proactively reach out to your targeted list to get to know them and show them the value you can add. Connecting with their employees, doing informal interviews, going to their events and job fairs are a few of the ways to connect with them. 

Track your progress


You want to track your application statuses and set deadlines and expectations for yourself to ensure that you stay motivated and informed. 

  • Job Tracker: I suggest creating it online so that you can reference it across multiple devices. Google Docs is one of the easiest to use. (It’s similar to Microsoft Word) Break this document into three sections.
  1. Jobs applied to: List out the role title, the company, pay range if known, and date applied. Also, add in other contacts you made and when. 
  2. Said no: Move any applications to the no pile once you hear back. Leaving it in the applied section just clutters up what you have out there that is still an option. Delete out your No section from time to time so that it doesn’t build up to a discouragement. 
  3. Never heard back: (60 days): If you haven’t heard anything back in 60 days, you likely aren’t going to hear anything. Moving them out of the applied section again gives clarity to real options. Clear this one out periodically as well. 
  • Activity Goals: Set weekly goals for yourself to hit towards your ultimate goal of finding your job. It’s easy to get sidelined because you are overwhelmed, don’t know what to do or just get plain lazy. Keep yourself accountable so that you don’t fall into those traps. 

Resilience and proper expectations


Finding your job can take some resilience. Know going into this that you are going to have setbacks and be prepared for them. Make peace with the inevitable and do your best to not take it personally. Just because you don’t get an interview or someone says no, doesn’t mean you have less value. It just simply means that the opportunity wasn’t your job.  Look to see what you can learn from those tough moments to help you in the future.  

Keep yourself focused and in the right mindset while on the hunt for your job. 

You know who you are. You know the skills that set you apart. You know what that ideal job and company look like. Use all that knowledge to build yourself a solid plan to land your job. It’s out there, you just need to go and find it. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Find Your Job Series: Identify Your Ideal Environment

Find Your Job Series: Identify Your Ideal Environment

It’s important to match your skills, strengths, interest, and personality to a company’s culture, values and environment. No doubt, that the company is going to feel you out for culture fit during the interview process. How do you learn about the environment and culture of a company that you’ve never worked at before? Getting this one wrong could lead you to regret the decision to join the group in the first place. Let’s get it right. 

Understand the company’s purpose and philosophy

You should research any company that you are interested in to understand their purpose and philosophy. It’s the whys and hows of its existence. Here are a few of the ways that you can check in on this. 

  • Check out the company’s website. What are they promoting and proud of? What is their history? Do they have info on the specific location that you are looking for? You can find much of this info on the about page of their website. 
  • Look into the CEO. Have they been there awhile? You can look at sites like Glassdoor to see their approval rating among the employees. You can also discover if the employees would recommend the company to others.  I like to check to see the trend in the comments. Have they jumped up or taken a nosedive in the year? Why?
  • Check the organization’s social media feeds to see what they are highlighting. It’s a signal of what is important to them. 
  •  If you have an in-person interview, get there early and observe how people interact with others. Are they modeling the type of environment that you like?
  • Interview everyone that interviews you about their thoughts on the company. (They usually love this!) Ask them to describe the company. What is their favorite thing about working there? What is one thing that they would change? What does success look like there?

Some items that describe fit are universal


Some things are just universal and are nearly always looked for in a new job. Here are some of the most common to look into and discover how important they are to the organization you are looking at. 

  • Trust
  • Employee engagement or their level of care
  • Promotability
  • Their culture: formal or informal 
  • Leadership
  • Communication to its employees
  • Ownership of role and responsibility 
  • Delegation or micromanagement

Identify your ideal leader


Hopefully, you have had at least one great boss. It’s ok if you’ve had a bunch of bad ones too. Use the bad ones to figure out what you don’t want in a leader! Write out all those qualities and honestly ask the hiring leader how they see themselves as a leader and what their leadership style is. If it’s a match, that’s just further confirmation that you are in the right place. If it’s not a match, it’s an indicator that you likely will be frustrated in the role. 

Now, you know everything you need to about yourself, you have your industries narrowed down and your companies picked out. Next time we will formulate the plan to get your job. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Find Your Job Series: Identify Your Skills

Find Your Job Series: Identify Your Skills

For your next job, you’ll need to have a good grasp of your skills and strengths so that you can show that value to the hiring leaders for the company that you want to be with. 

Uncover your skills and strengths


First, you need to note what your skills are. Think about your current and former jobs, schooling, hobbies and other activities that could draw out what those skills are.  Some categories to consider are:

  • People skills: coaching others, leading, listening, performance management, hosting, selling, and teaching
  • Data skills: research, compiling info, finance, programming, excel, reports and problem-solving
  • Creativity skills: writing, designing, music, producing, planning, acting, creating, vision casting, 
  • Hands-on skills:  machinery, specialized skills, building, cooking, repairs

Some areas to think about to uncover your strengths.

  • What are you known for?
  • What are you the go-to person for?
  • What do you love doing?
  • What are you successful at?

Resources


There are several places that can help you identify your skills and strengths.

  • I recommend the book Strengthfinder 2.0. It’s not a traditional book in that you read it from cover to cover. You take an online assessment and then use the book to dive into your strengths and then increase your understanding of who you work well with and you wouldn’t work well with. 
  • Assessment.com is a free site where you can find your strengths and skill set. Be prepared. It takes nearly 25 minutes to complete. There are paid options for this site as well. 
  • Mindtools.com is another comprehensive site out there that identifies and maps your skills. 

List out your accomplishments & build your story


Now that you’ve got your skills and strengths figured out, take some time to list out your accomplishments. These could be projects, tasks,  that you are especially proud of. What are you most proud of in your job? Try to get to a list of 10 or more. They don’t all have to be monumental things. They may be simpler things you did that put a smile on your face, made you celebrate or helped someone out. 

Got your list?

Perfect! The next step is to start to create stories around those accomplishments. We’ve talked about the importance of storytelling in the past. (Be the Storyteller: PTB show #124) Reference that resource to understand the story type that you want to convey with each accomplishment. 

There are many acronyms that professionals use to convey a good story structure. Regardless, each story should start with your situation, what action you or your team took and what the end results were. We’ve covered this topic in the past as well. (Ace the Interview: PTB show #113)

Put those two together and you’ve got strong accomplishments that are presented clearly and in an engaging format for hiring leaders to hear. 

You should have a list of 12 or so industry careers interests from our time last week. Combine that with your knowledge about your strengths and skills and you should really be getting close to finding what your job looks like.  Next week we will look at your ideal environment. What does your dream company look like?

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Find Your Job Series: Uncover Your Interests

Find Your Job Series: Uncover Your Interests

As you get older, the stress of finding a new job increases. As a high schooler or college student, there is little risk or consequences, and you typically have many options to choose from. Life gets more complex. You start a family, you buy a house, you are (hopefully) preparing for retirement. It can be easy to fall into temptation and just jump into any job that you can land that pays what you were making before or a little more. 

We want to help you find not just any job, but your job. It’s out there, we just need to figure out what your interests are, what your strengths are, what the environment looks like and develop a plan. We’ll focus on your interests today. 

Know your personality


It’s important that you start with your personality and interests as you look for your job. After all, your job should be about your interests, skills, and desires and not something you have to mold yourself into liking. 

If you do research on personality types, you’ll find anywhere from 4 to 16 personality types listed. They typically fall under these general categories:

  • Introverted/Extroverted: This should be the easiest for you to identify. 
  • Planner/Flexible: Do you love building and following a plan, or do you enjoy meeting the surprises of life? Public service professions strive in flexibility, think of nurses, firefighters, police etc. While they do train and plan, they never know what their day is going to look like. Great planners sit in areas like finance, operations, and management.
  • Big picture/Small details: Are you more of a visionary leader or love being in the details of the work and creation? Loving details is great for those in auditing and technology programming. Big picture and creativity work well in the arts, marketing, and business strategy. 
  • Solo/Team: Do you like depending on yourself or love the team environment? This will help you narrow down what type of job in the industries that you pick out.
  • Logics/Emotions: Do you lean towards logic? These people love numbers, analytics, data and facts in making decisions. Emotional people follow their heart. They typically have a strong sense of their morals and use that to guide them. 
  • Consistency/Variety: Do you like to work on the same things consistency and grow a deep level of knowledge and expertise or do you enjoy mixing it up on different tasks and projects?
  • Driver/Contributor. Some would say this category is leader/follower. We know that you can lead yourself well without having the desire to lead others. This category is still relevant though, and one I surprising struggled with a bit as I was going through the same process. Is leading others important to you? How much? Does it have to be direct leadership or can you have an impact through indirect influence? I found that I love leading people directly, but I didn’t require a number of direct reports as long as I am influencing the whole organization. 

Two of the largest and most known personality profiles are Myer Briggs and DiSC. A number of companies and organizations use these two companies to better understand their people.  You can find those and various free outlets online. I would suggest utilizing one. You will likely found yourself as a bit of both options in the categories above and a test can help clarify that for you. 

Uncover your interests


Now that you’ve got your personality nailed down, you need to identify your interests. This means figuring out what industries you want to work in.  O*NET  is a site by the US Department of Labor that can help you narrow down the industries to find the best fit for you. 

Step one: Find your industry

  1. Eliminate the industries that you are totally out for you. 
  2. Pick ones that really interest you.
  3. Identify ones that have some interest. 

Step two: Find your job areas

  1. Click on each industry that you picked and choose your top 25 areas. This will take some time to complete. 
    • Once you drill into the industry, you can see jobs, projected growth and what the estimated job count increase will be in the coming years. 
  2. Narrow your list of 25 down to 12. 

Uncovering your interests and identifying your personality are two very practical points towards finding your job. You now know what type of job role that you want based on your personality and where you want to work based on your interests. We’ll cover skills, the company profile, and your plan in the coming weeks.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

Can you create charisma?

Can you create charisma?

If you’ve ever met someone that was very likable but you didn’t exactly know why, then you have seen charisma in action. It’s the magic essence of networking, building a following, and being well-liked.  At the end of the day, people are more likely to follow the lead of those they like being around.

Charisma can certainly feel like either A) You have it or you don’t or B) You manufacture it and it’s as fake as can be. You can see examples of this on social media platforms like Instagram and tiktok. 

The good news is that developing charisma is just like any other skill. It can be learned and grown if done so in the right way. 

Show good presence

Perhaps the most important piece of charisma is having a good presence…and unfortunately, it’s harder than ever. The saturation of mobile phones has been a killer distraction to having great presence in the moment. Here is a great video that shows how phones distract you from being in the moment with others. The silver lining is that great presence makes you stand more than ever. 

  • Put away your phone. Keep it in your bag or pocket so that it doesn’t tempt you. Keep it off the table at meals and in meetings. 
  • Show great body language. (PTB Ep 186) Remember the power of your body language. Show others that you are fully engaged with them by your body. Make great eye contact and use your active listening skills to show them that you are with them. 
  • Wear something comfortable. Clothing distractions can be the worst. Make sure that you are comfortable with what you are wearing. You don’t want to be worrying about sweat stains, smells, wondering if your zipper is up, etc while you are engaged in conversation. 
  • Ask clarifying and follow-up questions. This shows that you are genuinely interested in the conversation. The more that the other person has the spotlight in the conversation the better. 

Carry great confidence


While presence is all about paying good attention to others, confidence is all about yourself. It may require you to step out of your comfort zone a bit so that you can gain a good level of confidence in the future. Be brave and try some of these techniques. 

  • Get your mind right. The biggest battle of confidence is in your brain. Build your self-assurance to build up your confidence. When you are confident in yourself, others will be confident in you as well. 
  • Manage your nerves. You’ll notice that great speakers and people with high levels of charisma aren’t overwhelmed by the scale of their audience or the impact of the situation that they are in. I used to jump around get my blood going before I got on stage as a musician to get the nerves out.  Utilize whatever outlet works best for you. 
  • Become physically fit. I see this the most in my own life. When I’m working out and have trimmed down, I feel great….unstoppable even. On the flip side, when I’ve taken a break and focus more on other items, I feel my confidence take a hit. 
  • Dress up. Dressing nice and avoiding sloppy clothes make you feel more confident and it shows others that you know what you are talking about. (Even if you don’t)
  • Strong body language helps here too.  It can help your presence and confidence in the room. 

Be endearing and warm towards others. 


Your level of endearment and warmth is the final piece of the charisma puzzle. 

  • Practice gratitude and show appreciation towards others. People see when you are being friendly and courteous to them. They appreciate it when you show grace, gratitude, and care in them. 
  • Think of yourself as a host. Even if it’s not your event carry yourself like you are the host. It puts your actions into a very giving and friendly perspective. This mindset will also put other people at ease as you make introductions, anticipate needs etc. 
  • Lean into the power of your voice. (EP 202) Simply smiling while you talk will go along way here. Understand what voice you are using and maximize the effort to come across as friendly. Softer, warmer tones work great. 
  • Nail the handshake. Give a good handshake, look them the eye, smile and give thanks or appreciation as you leave the conversation. 

The best leaders are confident, approachable and friendly. Build your level of charisma to put people at ease, to draw people to you and to create a lasting impression. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

How to create sincere enthusiasm

How to create sincere enthusiasm

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sincere enthusiasm in what you do is both compelling and attractive to others. Your level of enthusiasm is like a magnet, the stronger it is, the more that you will draw in. Elon Musk is a great example of an enthusiastic leader. Jim Cantrell, a founding member of the Space X team, said it was Elon’s level of enthusiasm that got the space company up and going more than Musk’s intelligence and money. 

So how do we show our enthusiasm in a sincere and authentic way? If real enthusiasm attracts then manufactured or fake enthusiasm pushes people away. It’s fairly easy for people to spot whether you are being true or are putting on a face. Keeping it real is all about fueling yourself with the right influencers and perspective.

Enthusiasm Fuel


It’s important to get the right fuel in the tank. Here are some tips to fill up the right way. 

  • Focus on giving out A.R.E. (EP 200).  Lee talked about how appreciation, respect, and encouragement helps your team strive. It also helps you stay in a good mindset and maintain enthusiasm in your role. 
  • Find other enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm is contagious. Put other enthusiastic people in your life to encourage you and inspire you to maintain a high level of energy. 
  • Stay organized. Great time management, a clean desk, and an empty inbox keep you from being distracted and overwhelmed by the day ahead. 
  • Eat well. Healthy and nutritious food is always a good option to keep yourself mentally sharp. 
  • Positivity lists. Making lists of things that you are thankful for or what makes you happy helps keep things in the proper perspective. My family made thankful notes every week in 2019 that we read at the end of the year.  

Let go of the anchors 


Several things in your life can hold back and destroy your enthusiasm. Create room for your enthusiasm to grow by clearing these things out of your life:

  • Drop the pessimism. The total value of pessimism is 0. Why hold on to it?
  • Temper sarcasm. I enjoy a good, witty sarcastic statement like the next person. Too much can lead to pessimism and a lack of energy. 
  • Don’t be a complainer. Focus on positive thoughts and the silver lining. 

Can you have too much?

I don’t think it’s possible to have too much enthusiasm. I do think, however, that it’s important to understand the temperament of the room and not come off as too over the top. Let’s say the energy of a normal circle of friends having a conversation is 5/10. There is small talk and some laughs, but nothing crazy. You come into a group at a 9/10 with super high energy and hype. It’s likely going to be offputting to some, if not all, of the people in the group. 

Have your enthusiasm and harness the power if needed. 

Sincere enthusiasm for life and work can attract powerful and helpful allies to your side. You can inspire others to do the impossible…. like launching your car into space.  Stay positive and enthusiastic as you conquer the day. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

What to do when someone resigns

What to do when someone resigns

The sudden departure of trusted and valued team members can be a shock to a leader and navigating this scenario is one of the most challenging, and often frustrating, parts of being a leader. The loss causes more work for the leader, less efficiency in the team in the interim and it takes time to adjust to a new dynamic afterward.

Sometimes you’ll be fortunate enough to have a good amount of notice to get a plan in place. These scenarios are much easier to navigate. Hopefully, you have put the one-level-up mentality to use in your environment (Training everyone one level above their current position) and you are ready to rock and roll. Today we are going to focus on the ones that leave suddenly with little to no notice.

Focus on your plan and not your emotions


This scenario can catch you off guard and I’ve seen many leaders act out in their emotions as a result. Leaders have displayed anger, disappointment, a sense of being overwhelmed, and even questioning their own leadership during this time.  If you have a good relationship with the person, it’s okay to ask them why or give them an exit interview. Be sure to keep a professional demeanor about you and be willing to be okay with a weak response for the person leaving. They may not be comfortable sharing their why with you.  

Focus on building your plan instead of letting your emotions get the best of you. You’ll have plenty of time in the future to reflect and make changes to your leadership and employee experience. 

Lean on your team


This is where the development of your team truly pays off. Ask key team members to step up and take a temporary larger role. I would often use this opportunity to give people that had the skills and training but were unsure they wanted the next level and chance to try it out.

Reward those that do step up. For an hourly worker, the extra time is appreciated, but everyone loves little rewards like gift cards to their favorite restaurant or a little cash bonus. 

Be more present


If the person was a key player on your team, then they likely had some strong relationships with co-workers. These co-workers will be struggling with the loss of a good friend and may even start doubting their own place on the team. Make sure that you are very accessible to your team so that they can talk or express any concerns that they may have.

Be an encouragement to them and spend one-on-one time with as many as you can to assure them that you value their contribution and that the team will be able to move forward. 

Start hiring but be patient


Even if you are a fantastic leader and have a team full of one-level-up employees, eventually you are going to need to hire someone to take someone else’s place. Vary your search, ask current employees for referrals and don’t forget about your customers; sometimes they make great employees. 

I would suggest involving some of your team in the interview process so that it helps in their development and gives you a different perspective on the candidate. This also gives the team members involved a sense of ownership in the person coming on. They don’t want their stamp of approval on someone who is not going to be a good fit for the team. 

Take your time. Your team can handle the extra load better when they have a sense that you are actively looking for the right fit. 

Losing a good employee and can be tough. Keep your emotions in check, let your team step up to the occasion and be there for your people.  Know that this time is just temporary and use it as an opportunity to take your team to a new level. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH