The Be Series: Be the Horse

The Be Series: Be the Horse

Horses are known for their strength and poise and have been a symbol of power for humans for centuries. The domestication of wild horses was essential in the migration of early man to spread across the globe as it allowed them to carry supplies and move across large distances. 

Horses are very unique in the way they interact with each other and are finely tuned to their environment. Here are a few qualities that they possess that can help us in our own leadership and life walk. 

They are very social


We were not made to live a life in isolation and neither are horses. They socialize with each other, express emotions and mourn the loss of a horse that was close to them. Cigna health ran a study on loneliness in Americans and found that 47% reported being lonely either sometimes or all the time. 

Multiple studies show that the “social” in social media is not enough to fill that need in a person’s life. In fact if you spend more than two hours a day on social media sites you are twice as likely to experience social anxiety.  If you find yourself running to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or ticktock all the time, get a game plan to moderate your habit. Begin to put activities in your life that don’t revolve around a phone. Go on a hike, take up a hobby, go to a party with friends, see a movie. Start small and reconnect with others. 

They have keen instincts and act instantly


Much like rabbits (Be the Rabbit, EP #155), horses have a keen sense of their surroundings. They can see over 300 degrees and can “look” in two different directions at the same time. If their ears are up and turned away from the direction of their eyes, they are looking in two places at once. If they sense danger, they immediately act. There is no thinking, they are just moving as quickly as possible to avoid conflict.

We sometimes get paralysis by indecision in our leadership and life walk. While it’s good to have as much information as possible, it can also be harmful to wait it out. Trust your instincts and make the move necessary to keep yourself ahead of danger. Move, evaluate and then go from there. 

They have leadership laws and work together. 


Herds of horses usually have two leaders.  The mare leads the heard, the stallion protects it.  They generally don’t lay down at the same time when resting. One or more will keep watch as the others lay down first. Horses appreciate good structure in the group and each plays a part in contributing to the well being of the herd. 

Structure is a good thing for your team. As simple as it sounds, a good team structure still eludes many groups at schools, work, and volunteer organizations. Establish a clear leader and support system and spell out what each person’s role and responsibility are to the group. Help those around you that are falling short instead of talking bad about them and letting them continue to fail. Have that courage to have those tough conversations when needed.

Horses’ lives depend on the power of their teamwork and leadership. Lead your team in the same way. 

Be strong like the horse. Stay connected to others, trust your instincts and build great team-building skills. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

How to handle toxic people

How to handle toxic people

No doubt you’ve come across at least one toxic person within your work environment, school or circle of friends. These people bring you down more than they lift you up. They can be verbally abusive, non-supportive and emotionally draining.  

You may not be in a situation where you can remove yourself from interacting with the person so here are some tips on how to identify if a person is toxic and steps to handle this type of person. 

Signs of toxic people


You may be involved with someone that is toxic and not even realize it because it’s subtle or you have grown accustomed to it.  

  • You feel drained afterward an interaction. This can be emotionally, mentally or even physically depending on the person. 
  • They never give a true compliment. Their “words of encouragement” are backhanded compliments, sarcasm or just plain rude. 
  • They are very focused on themselves. They get jealous easily, resent others wins, see themselves as a victim and they have no interest in your personal life or what is important to you. They also rarely apologize because they don’t see themselves in the wrong. 
  • They are forceful. Toxic people typically don’t respect boundaries, are aggressive with others to get what they want, and don’t take no for an answer. They can be relentless in their pursuit to fill their own need or want. 

Getting your life back


The first thing to consider is possibly removing the person or yourself from the circumstances that put the two of you together.  This could be difficult depending on the length and type of relationship involved. Include others like a counselor or mentor if needed to help you navigate the situation. 

Here are some tips if you have to deal with a toxic person. Each step is going to require you to have a real and honest conversation with the person. 

  • Build your self-awareness. Reflect on your relationship with the other person. Do you unknowingly support the behavior by giving in to demands or by giving them more attention then they need? There may be opportunities to make some adjustments here to begin pulling back the power of the relationship from the other person.
  • Establish boundaries.  Think about how the toxic person breaks your trust, invades your personal space or time and set clear boundaries with the person. Be fair and to the point. 
  • Be honest and give feedback.  It’s okay to be assertive and to the point. “When you _____activity_____ I get/feel/become ____emotion_____. I need ________ going forward. I wanted you to know this because__________ (It impacts my work and I want to have a good relationship with you, I care about you, I want us both to do well, etc)
  • Hold them accountable and keep the power. Now that you have had that tough conversation, the situation will only improve with your commitment to keeping them accountable. Call them out matter of factly and keep emotions in check when they cross your establish boundaries.  If they are especially needy, hold your response unless it’s convenient for you or absolutely necessary to solve a larger issue. An example fo this would be someone inundating you with texts. Turn off notifications and get back to them later.

A toxic person does not have to dominate and control your happiness and quality of life.  Take time to identify if they are a truly toxic person, take stock in what’s important to you and how the relationship is holding you back. Find councel and follow these actionable steps to bring balance and boundaries in the relationship. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

How to answer “Tell me about yourself.”

How to answer “Tell me about yourself.”

“Tell me about yourself.” The statement seems simple and easy enough but it can be one of the most stressful conversation starters. Is the person just being polite or is there a deeper motive? It can be a landmine that we second guess our response to afterward. With some thought and preparation, you can navigate this very successfully. 

Know your audience

It’s important to be aware of your audience as you answer this question because how you approach the question should vary significantly depending on who the person is. You can’t navigate this question with a one-size-fits-all canned answer.  

Social settings, significant other’s family, peers outside your company

  • In this environment, it’s okay to get personal just be sure not to be too personal. Keep it short, personal and positive. The person is likely asking the question for small talk and is not there to be overly judgemental. 

Interviews, potential hiring managers

  • These are veiled as a conversation starter, but these are often asked to see what they can get out of you. It’s also a way for them to get you to spill about things they can’t legally ask you in an interview. 
  • Craft your response differently for each person that asks you the question. You may have three or more interviews as part of the process to get the job and have every one of them start with a variation of you telling them about yourself. Your conversation with the first person should be about what you do. The last with a C-suite leader should focus on the impact to bigger picture goals. 

Template

Use this simple template in building out your response.

  • Present: What you do or what your role is and perhaps something that you’ve done recently that you are proud of. This is not the place to start listing out all of your greatest accomplishments. 
  • Past: Quickly tell about your journey on how you got there. 
  • Future: What are you excited about doing next and if it’s an interview, why you think they would be a great fit. 

Examples

Meeting your significant other’s family
        I just started at Stord a couple of months ago and have been loving it. We make it easy for companies to know exactly what they have where in a live setting. Before that, I graduated from Georgia Tech where I met Sara and we both are adventurous so we are excited to start exploring the city more this year. 

First interview for a sales job
        I’m currently at Salesloft as a sales rep. We just finished out the quarter and I was the top salesperson for the third time in a row. Before that, I worked in training at Mailchimp and really enjoyed investing in others there. I’m looking to continue to grow my career where I can combine my love of people and sales. I love the culture here at Leasequery and the sales trainer role looks like a perfect fit for my passion and experience. 

Last interview for a sales job
        I’m currently at Salesloft as a sales rep. I just won top salesman for the third quarter in a row and I’ve been enjoying helping set budgets and mentoring new Lofters this last year. Before that, I worked in training at Mailchimp and loved creating material that helped our people meet our business goals. From my time with Scott and Lakisha I think Leasequeary is a great match where I can serve long term and making lasting impact in the organization.   

Bad example for an interview
        So I just graduated from college and got married this summer! I interned in the marketing department at Mailchimp during my senior year. I’m a fun and personable guy and I work hard.  My wife and I go the beaches in Florida pretty often and we are hoping to end up there one day. 

More quick tips.

  • Practice on others that are close to you. 
  • Write it out. It sometimes helps in formulating your thoughts as you create your roadmap. 
  • …but don’t memorize. You want to come off as natural and authentic. Give yourself the flexibility to change or add something as the natural conversation goes on. 
  • Keep it positive. Don’t drag personal or professional negative experiences into the conversation. Remember that this is playing into the person’s first impression of you. 
  • Stay focused and keep it short and sweet. 

Get a good mental gameplan beforehand so you can navigate this space well and leave a lasting positive impression on the other person.

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

The power of thank you

The power of thank you

Two of the most powerful words that you can speak are, “Thank you.”  Showing appreciation and gratitude are gestures that no one can ever get enough of. It can make someone’s day, pull someone out of a bad frame of mind and affirm their behavior. 

Don’t fight charity and gifts


Many people have a tendency to fight charity and gifts. You’ve likely seen someone playfully argue with someone else about getting a meal paid for. “You really don’t have to do that. No, no, I can pay for my own stuff. You don’t have to do that.” Maybe you’ve said those things to someone!

Part of the problem is that we can have difficulty accepting gifts. It can be rooted in a sense of pride or guilt that you don’t have anything to give in return. When you fight back against a gift or charity you are robbing the joy from the giver. They shouldn’t have to argue, playfully or seriously, to give you something.  If you receive a gift or service, simply thank the person for the gesture and show your appreciation. Doing so affirms that they gave you something of value and makes them feel good for doing so. 

Convey the meaning and impact of your thanks


Saying thanks and thank you can turn into the phrase, “How are you doing?” It’s a pleasantry that we truly don’t expect any answer back other than fine or good. Be sure to share the meaning and impact of your thanks from time to time to break up the monotony of just simply saying thanks. 

Tell the person why you are thankful. “Thanks for doing this for me. This is really going to save me some time on my project.” “Thank you for mowing the yard. I know it’s a lot of work and hot out there today. It looks awesome!”

Giving them the why and impact of the thanks conveys an extra sense of appreciation and acknowledgment of what the person did for you. 

Show thanks and gratitude in other ways. 


Words are powerful and your actions can back those words up. Gifts, gestures, service are just a few of the ways you can show your gratitude besides just words. Don’t just do things for others after they first do something for you. Be proactive is looking for ways to surprise and delight others with your thanks appreciation and gratitude. Here are some areas to discover how you can show your gratitude:

  • Find out what their favorite snacks/restaurants.
  • Discover what their hobbies and interests are. 
  • Understand what they love to do. 
  • Understand what they really don’t like to do. 

Ae you saying thanks enough? Do your actions convey the same message? Increase your gratitude and strengthen your relationships. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

The power of your voice

The power of your voice

Our findings show that the voice is a much more powerful tool for expressing emotions than previously assumed. 
-Alan Cowen

Yes, words are powerful, but we often forget the power of our voice itself.  

When receiving communication, how the message was spoken carries just as much weight as the words themselves. If I say “Please get out of my office,” in a timid tone, you’d take it that I was likely worn out, out of energy, stressed and/or unengaging. If I said the same sentence with a growl in my voice that was low and load, you’d immediately know that I was very angry and upset. 

There are several areas where we can learn about the power of our voice. 

Using your voice to communicate without words


There are 24 sounds that people use to communicate without words. The University of California, Berkley completed a research study with actors and regular people where they recorded their reaction to different emotional scenarios. 24 seems like a lot but think about your every day. How often this week have you let out a frustrated sigh? Maybe you’ve let out a gasp at surprise, fear or terror. A good laugh communicates your amusement without any words. 

The school also has an amazing interactive map that lets you hear the sounds and how they correlate to communicating emotions. I probably spent a little too much time here playing around with it.  It’s fun and educational!

Your voice is a powerful tool to communicate emotions even without having to say any words. Understanding this communication piece can help you increase your self-management and relationship management with others. 

Using your body to control your voice 


Your voice calls on over half of your body to help it communicate. When you are speaking with authority, your shoulders are back and you are speaking from your diaphragm. When you are annoyed or showing contempt you speak through your head. You move all your vocal power to your upper throat and nasal cavity. 

Think about your body as you talk to others. Knowing what parts of the body convey what message can help you enhance what you are trying to get across. Knowing the role that your body plays also can help you with self-awareness. Talking through your nasals or in a weaker high pitch that is exaggerated can come off as annoying and uninviting.  If you find yourself doing this, knowing the body’s ties to the voice can help you correct it for better communication. 

Match your voice to your message


Now that we know about the sounds that we make and how we use our bodies to project our voice, we can make sure that our voice and words align to bring the message that we want. Have you ever had to go back and explain to someone, “That’s not what I meant,” because they misinterpreted how you said something? Make sure that your voice, non-verbals, and words are speaking in beautiful unison when you are communicating to others. 

Your voice is a powerful tool in your daily communication. Understand it’s impact and use your knowledge to your advantage in becoming a better communicator. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH

The value of your audience size

The value of your audience size

We as a society can get caught up in numbers. It’s easy to start attaching our self-worth to the number of likes that we get, the followers we have and comments we receive across social media platforms. I know people who have let the pursuit of numbers fully consume them and miss out on opportunities to connect with others in the real world because they are focused on their next post. 

Two of the most common questions I get from people interested in starting their own podcasts are: How many listeners do you have and how quick can you start getting ad revenue? My answer to both is, I don’t know. Neither is the reason why I started this endeavor. 

An audience of one


Just because I don’t keep track of our weekly podcasts numbers doesn’t mean I don’t have an idea of who our audience is. We announced on our birthday week that we now have Baton Carriers in 101 different countries. Even with the large group that we are blessed to have I still write to you as an individual and you’ll often hear John and I talk about the table for three on the show. John, myself and you. It’s all I’m concerned with. 

I regularly run across people that think they aren’t true leaders until they lead a certain number of people or obtain a certain title. They are looking for a sense of arrival when there is none in leadership. Even if you have zero followers you can lead your peers well by modeling great leadership behaviors. Focus on leading your one very well and you’ll be asked to lead more in the future. Let tomorrow worry about itself. 

Hold on to your why


As your audience grows, there is a strong temptation to change who you are to match the trends of the day. Dale Partridge discusses this cycle in this book People Over Profit. You start out in the Honest Era, being defined by your values. You become successful and start chasing more in the Efficient Era. You begin to compromise yourself in the Deceptive Era and then you try to right the ship in the Apologetic Era.  You can think about any large company are trace how they have gone through this cycle, sometimes multiple times. The same cycle also applies to our personal life in regard to growing an audience and influence. 

Hold on to your Why so you don’t fall into the cycle that Dale talks about. It’s your North Star to keep you focused on staying in the right direction. Check your compass by evaluating yourself, your team and your organization to ensure that your values still hold true and your values on the wall haven’t turned into just another decoration. I typically do this personally and professionally a couple of times a year. 

When you find yourself drifting from your Why, apologize and right yourself as quickly as possible even if it means letting go of some of your audience. 

Just start


After the numbers and equipment questions, future podcasts often reveal how they are overwhelmed with getting great music, a logo, format, and quality sound. That fear and sense of perfection causes many people to never even start their show and once they do, most shows don’t go past number 7. 

I mean, have you listened to PTB Episode 1?

It’s two guys who are huddled around one mic and not knowing a thing about podcasting. We didn’t even know how to record the show! I think it took me 5 hours to write the first intro music for the show. 

……But we did it. 

You can do it too. Just start. Start leading yourself well today. Start working on that project you’ve wanted to today. Start that podcast as a full-on amateur hour basement show.  Don’t worry about being perfect for an audience of 1000 that you don’t have (yet). Do it for yourself or friend or family member. I just want you to start and then figure it out from there. 

Your audience size truly does not matter. What matters is that you are willing to influence others one person at a time. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH