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Are You Staring at the Tent Again?

You need to get back into the center ring where you belong.

"There's nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except that when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you've been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface all the time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent." - Dave Barry

Too many leaders think they are center ring in the circus when actually they are standing outside of where they should be, and staring at the outside of the tent.

Leaders were similarly delusional in the movie, The Matrix.  In that story computers had taken over the world.  People thought they lived here...

When in reality, they lived here...


  • Could you be a better leader?
  • Could your employees achieve more?
  • Is your employee turnover too high and engagement too low?
  • Do you struggle with delegation?
  • Do you struggle with follow-up?
  • ...?

If you were candid, are you struggling to stay focused on the ONE THING that could drive your organization 3X-100X farther than all the firefighting you are doing?

How about a tune-up?  You train your people.  Why not you?  Here are three options from MANAGEtoWIN:

Certified LEADER

You and/or others at your company may have leadership attributes, but what you really need are managers with leadership SKILLS.  To compete in today's crowded marketplace you must move beyond being an "okay" manager to becoming a powerfully effective leader.

  • 6 months of coaching & training to help you develop new leadership habits to overcome your less productive behaviors
  • 12 one-on-one coaching sessions with me
  • 12 Group online training sessions
  • A Certification test, which when passed, confirms you are a Certified Leader

Ideal for top performers promoted to management who need leadership training, plus owners and seasoned leaders in any area of your business.  We have had leaders participate who have 20 years' experience.

Our next Certified LEADER program kicks off the week of April 17.  Learn more and reserve your seat here.

LEADERSHIP Essentials Academy

We have not done an Academy since 2014.  Now you get new content.  Just for leaders and owners.  1.5 days packed with ways to "sharpen your axe" as President Lincoln said, so you can accelerate your career and company growth.

Where do you need help?

  • Setting and/or more consistently following-up on clear, measurable goals
  • Making difficult decisions faster, yet more wisely
  • Strengthening your company culture so more people take ownership
  • Better engaging every employee so they are their best, and enjoying work more
  • Improving your focus on what is truly move important - stop firefighting

Limited to just a few leaders to be 1:1 with me.  We are thinking of having this training in San Francisco, or just north in Marin County in September 2017.  

Which days work best for you?  Email us your preferred dates, and how many people you would like to attend.  (Should we catch an SF Giants game one night?)


Leaders got it, or they don't.  When you drive or fly, you use maps.  When you drive a business or fly a business opportunity like a rocket ship of rapid growth you need a plan.  Actually, you need three plans.

ReFOCUS | Life plan - How to FOCUS better on your priorities before your time runs out.

ReVOLUTION | Business Plan - What can you do better than anyone else?  How to systematically do that over and over again ("volution") to produce extraordinary results.

ReWARD | Exit Strategy - You will exit your business at some point.  How to better guard ("ward") your resources so your exit is not a fire-sale, but an abundance.

Do you have these plans?  Are you following them?  

If not, then prepare for 2018 with me in early October in San Francisco, or just north in Marin County.  Which days in October would work best for you?  Email us your preference and how many people you would like to attend.

Maybe we should do this workshop in Maui...

"As iron sharpens iron, one leader sharpens another."  (Adapted from Proverbs 26:16)


Pass Your Batons to Win

It was the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.  The American men's 400-meter relay team was in contention for the gold medal.  Superstar sprinter Tyson Gay reached back to grab the baton on the final handoff in their preliminary race, "and there was nothing."

The American women's 400-meter relay teams also misconnected on the final handoff in their preliminary race, mirroring the men's shocking defeat.  For the first time in Summer Games history, the U.S. left an Olympics 0-for-6 in the sprint races:  both men's and women's 100s, 200s and 400 relays.  (ESPN)

Have you ever "passed someone the baton" and your "race" was not the winner you expected?

Translation: Have you ever delegated responsibility to someone and the results were less than you expected?

Delegation.  The dreaded "D" word.

Stunning setbacks can be a motivator for GREAT Leaders to review and improve their process for delegating work. 

Delegation takes Systematic Power, the first strand of 3strands LEADERSHIP.  Delegating work is a system, not just a quick directive with assumptions from a superior.  Effective delegation is based on a process of transferring responsibilities between capable team members to achieve mutually agreed upon results by following your organization's best practices.

And... best practices take practice and systems, or your baton drops.

Take a moment to assess where there may be a baton drop in your delegating.  Are you delegating enough?  Are you delegating effectively?  Or are you avoiding delegating because it's just easier to do something yourself?  (Bad choice)

Here are the 7 steps of effective delegation I teach in our Certified LEADER course:

  1. The mutual objective
  2. The problem
  3. The team
  4. Authority & expectations
  5. Resources required
  6. Communication
  7. Deadlines

You are the delegator.  The person or people receiving the task are the delegatee.

Step #1 of 7:  The Mutual Objective

  • Is the objective clearly defined, measurable, and have due dates?
  • Have you helped the delegatee understand that receiving the task is not the end goal, but rather they are a steward of the responsibility, so a greater goal is achieved?
  • Have you engaged the "second brain" - the heart of the delegatee so the work is meaningful to them?
  • Are you reinforcing the mutual objective often?

Step #2 of 7:  The Problem

  • Is everyone clear about the problem that is trying to be solved before and during the work that has been delegated? 
  • Is the cost of not solving the problem clear?
  • Are the benefits of solving the problem defined?
  • Are the process and/or new habits to put in place to avoid the problem in the future defined, or mutually sought?

Step #3 of 7:  The Team

  • Does each delegatee realistically have the time to do it well?
  • Did you encourage the delegatee by explaining the reason why they were chosen?
  • Have you explained how the delegatee will benefit from completing the task with excellence?
  • What training do delegatees need to complete the task well?

Step #4 of 7:  Authority & Expectations

  • Does the delegatee have authority that matches their responsibilities?
  • Who is the team leader if there is more than one delegatee?
  • Are any approval processes clear, and in-writing?
  • Are behavioral expectations between you and the delegatee clear, and preferably in-writing?

Step #5 of 7:  Resources Required

  • What subject matter experts or other people are available to support the delegatee?
  • Where can the delegatee work and/or do they need help securing meeting locations?
  • Does the delegatee have all the equipment and materials necessary to complete the task?
  • Have the funding, outside services, other necessary activities been secured?

Step #6 of 7:  Communication

  • Is there a clearly defined follow-up schedule when the delegatee will communicate status to you?
  • Have you defined a schedule when you will touch base with the delegatee, especially if they miss their deadline to update you on the status?
  • What is the schedule to inform others?
  • Is the platform in place to track their progress, whether ConnectWise, SharePoint, Dropbox...?

Step #7 of 7:  Deadlines

  • Are there due dates / milestones with clear deliverables?
  • How are the dates being tracked?
  • Are the milestones in the best order of priority?
  • Have you defined what happens when a deadline is missed, and should that occur, are you prepared to ask questions, be respectful, and then act decisively?

This may seem like a lot, but once you get it in place it flows easily. Learn how to delegate effectively. Put the Systematic Power of process in place. Test, refine, improve your delegation systems. Teach them and grow.


Risking Your Comeback

One of my favorite movies is Hoosiers. The movie told a story that took place in 1951 in the rural southeast Indiana town of Hickory.  Norman Dale drove into town to replace a revered high school basketball coach who had died.   He was hired by Cletus Summers, the principal and a longtime friend, to coach the team and teach classes.

Earlier in life Dale had been a champion collegiate coach until he punched one of his players.  That got him barred from coaching college ball.  For many years he had hidden in the Navy.  Now he had been honorably discharged.

The coaching position in Hickory was a last chance for Norman Dale, who is played by Gene Hackman.

How about you?  Have you made some mistakes?

Have you made a BIG mistake?

It may surprise you, but my experience is most people have made at least one BIG mistake.

For those of us who recover and rebuild, by grace our legacy is typically not the mistake.  Instead, we are judged by how we apply what we've learned to more positively impact the lives of others.

The journey is long.  The battles can be ongoing.  At least for a time...

In Hoosiers, Coach Dale had to battle the disbelief of a teacher who was the guardian of the town's best high school basketball player, Jimmy Chitwood.  Jimmy had decided not to play due to grief over the death of the prior coach.  He refused to even speak a word to the new coach, even when Dale patiently tried to talk with him.

Coach Dale also had the burden of establishing boundaries and discipline for a basketball team of unruly high school boys.  The situation is further complicated by the fact it initially only has five players after two quit.  They didn't care to behave and show the coach respect.  A father brings one of them back, which brings the team to six players.

It was a small town.  The high school only had 161 students.  However, basketball was their passion.  A number of the men in the community felt firmly established as armchair coaches of the high school boys' basketball team. 

As Coach Dale tried to get his team in sync, they question his every thought, word, and action.

Even the student body chanted to have Jimmy Chitwood return to the team rather than cheer the players who were doing their best to represent the school.

It was Norman Dale's last chance.

If he failed, then he would never get another opportunity to coach the game he loved. 

He had the knowledge, experience, and skill to be a championship coach.  But his BIG mistake had detoured him into a tiny Indiana town that did not like him.

So what did he do?

He had the grit to stick to what he knew was right, admitted his mistake of the past when it came up, and kept pushing forward day by day.  He invested his life in the boys on that team.

If the story stopped there, it would be logical.  However it did not.

Hoosiers lets you see the humility of a tough warrior.  Without saying it specifically, Norman Dale was thankful for the grace his friend, Cletus, had shown him.  He extends grace to others.  You can see it by how he treats others.  He decided that someone needed to help a man who had fallen into the deep pit of alcohol.

The opportunity comes about when Cletus, acting as an assistant coach, had chest pains after an angry Coach Dale got ejected from another of their early season games. 

Dale needed a replacement assistant coach.  He decided to invite knowledgeable local former star basketball player Wilbur "Shooter" Flatch.  Shooter was the father of one of the players, Everett.  He was also the town drunk.  Even Everett was disgusted with him and would have nothing to do with his father.

Coach Dale put boundaries on Shooter, just like he did with the boys, although different.  Shooter had to be sober, on time, and dressed in a suit to coach with him.

Yet the team still struggled.

Coach Dale bet it all.  He was teaching the young men basketball.  More than that, he taught them integrity, reminded them of the value of hard work, and tried to give a hand up to a man who was in a deeper pit than himself.

Yet all appeared lost.  He started to lose his grip on the opportunity.

After just a few games the armchair coaches of the town called an emergency meeting to vote on whether Dale should be dismissed.  It looked bleak, but the coach held his ground.  He said he was proud of the boys on the team and he would not change anything he had done.

As the vote was being counted Jimmy walked in and announced he figures it's time for him to start playing ball.  The crowd erupted in cheers.  However, Jimmy had one boundary:  He would play only if Coach Dale stayed.  If the coach left, then he would not play.

Coach Dale won the vote.

Remember the importance of boundaries.

Did the team start winning?  Did Shooter stay sober?  Did Shooter and his son reconcile?  What happened to the other relationships in town?

You have to watch the movie.


First, a hero cannot do everything or save everyone. 

Are you trying to do too much today?

Second, our lives are blessed when we extend the grace we have received to others. 

Sometimes it is our turn to help.  A kind word.  A listening ear.  A smile.  Sometimes more.

Choose carefully. Once you choose help someone or a cause, then set boundaries.  Hold tight.  Stay true to the grace you are extending and the boundaries you establish.

The person you try to help may not make it all the way up on to their feet.  Your role may be just to get them out of the pit.

Consider the risk to your opportunity, your life, and the people depending on you.  Gamble only what you are willing to lose.

Norman Dale was willing to lose it all because he believed he was doing the right thing.

There is the story I heard years ago of a well-off couple who went on a mission trip.  They were so touched by the needs of the people that they gave, and gave, and gave... until they had no more.  But it wasn't enough.  The poor were still poor, but now the couple had joined them in poverty.

It is rare that is the best decision.

Good intentions cannot be the only criteria behind your decision to risk what you have to help others.  Balance your heart with sincere consideration of how a loss would affect people who depend on you, such as your family or employees.

Grace can be extended in small doses and still improve the lives of others. 

Practice grace with boundaries.

Third, last week I encouraged you to embrace 2017 as your comeback year.  This begs the question:  What's the one thing you will do this year that will make everything else easier?

You cannot be a hero to everyone or do everything.

However, there is one thing you can do, and do with excellence!

Identify that one thing and do something.  You will be glad you did.

Start with humility and grace.

If you have the time, watch the movie Hoosiers.

It's a fun story.  Unfortunately it is not true.  The real story of a small Indiana town's high school basketball team actually has some special gems of its own.  Click here to learn what really happened.


It's Your Comeback Year

Shortly after 2017 began, Tom Brady, a fossil by NFL quarterback standards, led the New England Patriots to victory in an overtime Super Bowl after trailing the Atlanta Falcons 28-3 midway through the third quarter. 

After the game Brady explained, "We all brought each other back.  We never felt out of it."

He is not just a great athlete, but demonstrates attributes of true leadership.

Last Friday night I watched a small town basketball game with a packed house in Central Oregon.  The Sisters High School boys' team faced rival Madras in the first round of the playoffs.  At 39-29 the Madras team was up by 10 points with about 6.5 minutes to go in the fourth quarter, and then their coach made a fatal mistake.

He had his team stall.  Apparently in Oregon high school basketball there is no shot clock, so the Madras team drained over a minute from the clock just passing the ball around.

To be candid, although none of our kids attend high school, I was angry at the lack of integrity displayed by the Madras coach to teach his players a stall tactic with so much time left in the game. 

It is also a dangerous strategy because it changes the whole momentum of how your team is playing the game.

By the way, is it a sin to boo a team that behaves that way?  Or their coach?  (I leave that up to you.)

What happened?  The Sisters team rallied and won 46-39 (without overtime).

Now, that was a fun evening...

It is a comeback year.

People everywhere, except on the losing side, love a comeback.


Everyone has an area of their life that is important, but they are failing at it.  They are not meeting their own standards and/or progressing towards their dream.  

You feel it is impossible to change.

You need a comeback.

What should you do?


No, this is not  Alcoholics Anonymous, although you could be addicted to denial at least in this one area.

What is your dream?  Or if not a dream, what is a goal that is very meaningful for you to achieve that you have not been able to make progress on?

Let me put it another way: 

What is the one thing you could do that would make everything else in your life better?  (This is the core challenge of the book, The ONE Thing.  A great book.)

Stop your denial.  (Other things are more important.  I can't do it.  It's too hard...)

Stop procrastinating.  (I don't have time.  My other stuff is more important.  I have to get this other stuff done first.)

Stop blaming others or circumstances.  (My boss, or spouse, wants me to do other stuff.  I have no money.  I don't know enough...)

Denial is a slow death.


Make a decision to be your best, not just good, or even great.  You want to be YOUR BEST.

We are our best when we overcome heavy odds against us.

We are our best when we kindle the warrior within us to do extraordinary things.

There is a Spirit within you or beside you, just waiting for your invitation to join your battle.

It is the suffering and the story is what makes the game of life engaging, enjoyable, and fulfilling.  Don't accept where you are in life.  You are destined for more.

What makes a great leader?

Someone who fearlessly overcomes a challenge.  

Did you catch that?

One challenge.  

Not two, five or a dozen.  

Consider the stories of great movies such as Gladiator and Braveheart.  In ancient times the battle lines were formed with hundreds or thousands of soldiers on each side, yet to survive each warrior had to focus on winning against one foe at a time. 

They could not get overwhelmed by the army facing them, or even the 2-6 opposing soldiers nearby.

There is one menacing thing holding you back.  What is it for 2017?

To be your best, you must identify the one thing that will transform your current reality into your dreams.  

Time is running out.


Define a simple plan to achieve your quest.  There are three components:

     #1 - A clear, measurable goal with a deadline

     #2 - Identify what time of day you do your best work.

     #3 - Set aside that time in your schedule to achieve your goal. 

Should you be persistent?


"WHAT?" you ask incredulously.  

A persistent person keeps trying.  That is not good enough.  

To be great, you must be tenacious.  

A tenacious person applies what they learn to avoid mistakes and accelerate their progress while never giving up.

     #1 - A clear, measurable goal with a deadline

Here is the core of my method for writing clear, measurable goals:

Goals should be written in a clear, measurable way by following the acronym "T.A.R.G.E.T.™" from the books,  The Company Culture Challenge and Success With People. 

Start with the preposition "To" and follow it with an "Action verb."  Next add a "Realistic Goal" area or focus.  Then add an "Effective measure of success" and close it with the "Time for the goal to be completed." 

      T          To (the preposition)

      A         Action verb

      RG       Realistic Goal to be achieved

      E          Effectively measure whether the goal has been achieved

      T          Time or date for the goal to be completed

The due dates are important.  One sales guru, T.C. Michalak, likes to say, "A goal without a timeline is not a goal - it's a wish."  Each goal must have a realistic completion date with your work finished on schedule.

Here is an example of a clear, measurable goal written in the T.A.R.G.E.T. format: 

To increase consultant utilization rates to 78 percent for the quarter. 

To begin:                          To

Action verb:                      increase*

Realistic Goal:                  consultant utilization rates

Effective measurement:   to 78 percent average

Time bound:                     for the quarter.

NOTE:  If you want to make the goal statement a bit more direct then drop the first preposition "To." Then this goal becomes: 

Increase consultant utilization rates to 78 percent for the quarter. 

     #2 - Identify what time of day you do your best work.

What time of day do you do your best work?

That is the time of day to work on your most important goal.

Another consideration is where you do this work.  You must be someplace where you will not be interrupted by people or electronics (TV, email, instant messaging, phones...).

Be realistic.  When do you do your best work?  How can you work without interruption?

     #3 - Set aside that time in your schedule to achieve your goal. 

Block out time in your schedule daily or weekly to achieve this goal. 

Make certain it is the time of day when your best work.

Communicate.  Explain what you are doing to other people who currently expect to be able to interact with you at that time.  Ask them to respect that time and only interrupt you if the world is ending.

They will interrupt you anyway.  Respectfully, calmly be firm about meeting with them later if the issue can wait.  Unplug if necessary to block them out.

NOTE:  Maybe the time you chose is the wrong time of day.  If the schedule you set aside is not working, then reassess your schedule and try a different one.

Do NOT give up.

Today is passing fast.  Yesterday is a memory, or worse, forgotten.  The longer you wait, the more you rely on a miracle.

It's YOUR comeback year.  

You do not have to become a billionaire, on the cover of magazines, or loved by everyone.  

You just have to overcome one thing.  

If you are candid, it might be the one thing in your life that will catapult you past silence into hearing the voice of God.  

Do it now.  It's your comeback year.  

It might be you have spread yourself too thin at work for years.  There is one thing above everything else that plays to your strengths and will launch you into a new stratosphere of opportunity.  

Do it now.  It's your comeback year.  

It might be your relationship with your spouse.  Would a weekly date night improve things? 

I have a new friend, Mark, who enjoys a cup of coffee with his wife, Sheila, each day about 3:00 p.m.  They just catch up.  What would that type of communication do for your relationship?

How about scheduling a weekly, biweekly, or at least monthly family business meeting with your spouse?  Finances are the #1 cause of divorce.  A cycle of financial discussions might replace the demons of doubt with the candid confidence of your future together.

Do it now.  It's your comeback year.  

You decide the goal.  Just do something!

If you need help getting started, or along the way, let me know.  I love working with people who want to be their best.  You can schedule a conversation with me here.

I hope our paths cross this year and I can encourage you in your journey.


The Coat Is Big On You

PONDER THIS OVER THE WEEKEND:  One way to be a great leader

My friend, Jerry, accepted a new job years ago leading an organization.  A woman walked up to him after he did his first talk in front of about 100 members of the team, and said,

"The coat is big on you, but you'll grow into it."

Jerry accepted her encouragement and continued to grow for years to come.  He is a strong, servant leader today.  That woman has returned to Jerry to say the coat fits him a lot better.

How big is your "coat?"  (Coat = your responsibilities, professional or personal)

How well does it fit?

Are you the young child wearing an older sibling's clothes thinking you are better than you are?

Are you worried you will never grow into the "coat" you are currently wearing?

Are you wearing the wrong "coat," but are afraid to change?

How can you be a better leader?

For most leaders there is only one way to reach the destinations you have defined in life: 

WHERE:  Choose your destination.

HOW:  Define how you will get there.

WHEN:  Daily or weekly check your map, and adjust your rudder. 

RISK:  Don't get tempted into following a fatal sunset, a half-truth rabbit trail, a shortcut.

On Thursday and Friday, January 12-13 of this year we moved from just north of San Francisco, California to Sisters, in Central Oregon, about 20 miles northwest of Bend.  We split the journey in two, first driving to Redding, California on Thursday.  We arrived after midnight, got some sleep, and finished the drive through snowy, icy roads the next day, Friday, the 13th.

That Friday was the end of the worst series of snowstorms Central Oregon has experienced since 1992.  The temperature was in the 20's as we arrived on schedule at 4:00 p.m.

Jerry got three of his faith brothers there at the same time - Mark, Spencer, and Chris.  They, along with our son Jeff, his friend Ted, and me, unloaded our 26' moving truck, 20' moving truck, plus our Chevy Suburban and Toyota Sienna that were stuffed to the gills. 

Jerry was outside the entire time in the cold.  He was in the trucks and at the cars.  Two others grabbed stuff from him and carried each item across about 20' of ice and snow to the front door.  Four others, including me, worked inside our new home carrying things to the different rooms.

Jerry helped us although his house was partially flooded due to snow damage.  Some of his walls were literally bulging out with water.  His wife, Lois, made a dinner for us to eat the next night and put it in our new home's refrigerator.  She even hung a Happy Birthday sign from the ceiling for our youngest child, whose birthday was that day.

Can you imagine how I felt as four men I did not know worked tirelessly to help us?  I had only met Jerry once.  We had never met the others. 

How do you think we felt in response to Lois' kindness?  She didn't just stand around, either.  She helped my wife, Terry, begin to unpack.  Her warm, beautiful smile and encouragement went a long way to boost our tired spirits.

I cannot describe the joy I felt.  It just hit me in my heart and overflowed warmth throughout my soul about an hour or two into the unloading process.  We were where we were supposed to be.

Why?  Because of the people (Mark, Spencer, Chris, Jeff, Ted, Lois, and Jerry).

After the last item was brought into our house Jerry told our son, Jeff, "You know, I touched everything your parents own."  He was not boasting.  He was hinting, and being encouraging.

Jerry is a leader.  Think of how you serve your people.  How do you communicate brotherly love in memorable ways to the men and women in your organization?

Are you a SYSTEMATIC, consistent role model for the behaviors you want them to have? Do you make certain each of your people are engaged in work they find MEANINGFUL? How often do you communicate the SINCERE GRATITUDE you have for each of your people, in ways they prefer?

Jerry worked a system to get our stuff unloaded and in the house.  He had each member of our team working towards a common goal that was meaningful to us.  He constantly complimented and encouraged us in sub-freezing weather.

We may not live in Sisters long, or maybe we will.  However, I will always remember the kindness of Mark, Spencer, Chris, Jeff, Ted, and Jerry.  As long as I'm in Sisters, I will welcome the opportunities I have to get to know Jerry better. 

Why? He is clearly trying to live what he believes.  He is a leader who is intentionally trying to bless others.  No one is perfect, as in flawless, but Jerry seems perfect as in "complete" in his approach to serve people.

P.S.  I met with Jerry three days ago for our weekly coffee.  He told me the story of telling Jeff that he had touched everything we own.  Then he shared the reason why touching all of our possessions was important to him:

Everything he touched he prayed over, asking God to bless us with prosperity, community, and peace. 

Again, Jerry did not share this with me to boast.  He did it to encourage me.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?  (And me.)

How are you going to encourage someone today? "How can I motivate my employees?" - I get asked this often.  One behavior that always helps is sincere encouragement.

Will they remember it? If not, why not?

I hope our paths cross this year and I can encourage you in your journey.

P.P.S.  Jerry Kaplan is the pastor of the Sisters campus of Westside Church.


3 Tips to Un-Suck Your Assessments

Talent Assessments are a process, not a single activity.

We had a situation recently where a help desk candidate took one of our Talent Assessments.  The results look good in the report, but the results were wrong.

We identified the contradiction and recommended the Client not hire the person.  They were very pleased that we saved them from hiring a great actor, instead of a true superstar.

If they had simply been buying the online assessment without our consulting service they would have made a costly mistake.

Do your DISC or other type of assessments "suck" but you put up with them?  Are they inaccurate, or do you wish they told you more?

How could the results be wrong?

Our online Dual Perspective Service assessments confirm a person's behaviors and driving forces / motivators, with a "Sales" version for sales professionals and another "General" version for other employees or job candidates. 

We also have a Triple Perspective Service that integrates confirmation of the person's work competencies to further increase the accuracy of the report from 80-85% to 90-95%. 

Probably 25-50 million people have taken these assessments that you can order on our website.  This is powerful validation of the different versions of our online assessments.

Yet in this case, the online assessment results were wrong.  To be candid, this is not the first time this has happened.  The good news is our proven process catches these errors and helps our Clients make better decisions on more realistic data.

The reason the online assessment by itself failed is that some people answer based on what they think they are, versus who they really are. 

Sometimes this is because the job candidate or employee is trying to manipulate the results of the report.  In the situation I mentioned above I believe it was simply the job candidate thought he behaved differently than he actually did.

Have you ever had an employee who thought he or she was better than they actually were on the job?

Yes, we have been there, done that too. 

Therefore we have a process to avoid repeating that mistake.  It hurt too much, and cost a lot of money and time when it happened earlier in our careers.

TIP #1

If you just order a DISC assessment to consider a person's behaviors, then you lack insights into the driving forces / motivators that make them behave that way.  You are actually missing the most important information.  You have to understand and appeal to what motivates a person for them to improve. 

Managing by reacting to their behaviors is significantly less effective than understanding and intentionally engaging them based on their driving forces / motivators / values.

It's like you are addressing the "symptoms" of a problem, rather than the "disease."

TIP #2

The power of assessing someone's work behaviors, motivations, and competencies is a combination of three activities:

1  -  Your online assessment is weak.  We are surprised at how many of our competitors' reports are incredibly generic and lack depth.  We are convinced the organization that provides us with our assessments is the best value in the world for a comprehensive, accurate report.

2  -  You have a weak or incomplete process for a job candidate or employee to complete the online assessment, and confirm its results.  Too many companies just have someone take their online assessment instead of follow a complete process to gain a full perspective on the person.

When you fail in this area it's like buying a new 3/8 inch drill bit because you need to drill 3/8 inch holes.  However, you only drill halfway through the wood each time you need a 3/8 inch hole.  The initial hole in the wood looks great, but because you do not complete the process it does not help you achieve your goals.  It is an incomplete hole that is not used.  It only provides momentary inspiration. 

3  -  You do not consistently apply what was learned in the assessment process after it is completed.  Too many people pay for an assessment and find the results interesting, but then do not ever look at them again, or apply the results to help individuals prosper.

TIP #3

The people who advise you on the results of the assessments are a key factor in whether the results you get are accurate. 

I encourage you to get real.  Most of you could be getting a lot more for the money you are spending for online assessments of job candidate and employee work behaviors, driving forces / motivators, and/or competencies.

If you are not are ready a Client of our Talent Assessments, then we are willing to give you one for free to experience the process.  Just email us at

If you prefer not to use our assessments, then please consider my advice above to strengthen your process and achieve a much higher ROI from your evaluation of job candidates and employees.

I hope your 2017 is off to a strong start.


3 Strands LEADERSHIP & Follow-up to W.I.N.

More than 100 studies confirm 80% or more of employees are NOT fully engaged (Tony Schwartz, Harvard Business Review, 9/19/2011).  They are not doing their best.

Think about that for a moment...  If only 20% of your team is trying their hardest to win in the sport you are playing - baseball, basketball, soccer, football, water polo... that is only 2 out of 10 of your players are giving it everything they've got...  then how well will your team perform against the competition?

Your team will do poorly.  The same goes for your business. 

Gallup studies confirm world class companies with full engaged employees have about a 5:1 advantage over average companies and grow 2.6X faster. 

I suggest the difference is 3strands LEADERSHIP.  The inspiration behind this “3strands” is from Ecclesiastes 4:12, which says:

“Though one may be overpowered and two can defend themselves, a cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The first strand of 3strands LEADERSHIP is Systematic Power.  How well you demonstrate Systematic Power separates people with leadership attributes vs. people with true leadership skills. 

The core leadership systems are how you hire, manage, develop, and retain top performing people on your team.  Defining and demonstrating Systematic Power enables you to be consistent role model who builds trust, and inspires greatness.

The second strand of 3strands LEADERSHIP is Meaningful Work.  Systems without meaning have no lasting value.  GREAT Leaders create self-motivating work environments for each individual of their team that link career tasks to their personal fulfillment.  This is the most important motivator of all - the unique personal satisfaction each employee gains from achieving results. 

The foundation of Meaningful Work for leaders is how you define and demonstrate your company culture cornerstones: 

  • Mission With A Purpose (mission statement - why you are in business)
  • Vision Motivating a Future (vision statement - where you are going as an organization)
  • Non-Negotiable Values (3-10 statements with behavioral examples - how you do business)
  • Accountability For Consistency (where most companies fail - living out their company culture cornerstones)

The third and final strand holds the other two together.  It is Sincere Gratitude.  This is how you confirm you value each team member's contribution in ways that they appreciate.  Tossing them a Starbucks card may just insult them.  You need to recognize them and reinforce they are important to your team based on their personal preferences. 

Reminder:  People do not remember what you say as much as they remember how you make them feel.

A key part of how you live out your 3strands LEADERSHIP is defining clear, measurable T.A.R.G.E.T. goals and then following-up to achieve superior results:

  • Be a role model of 3strands LEADERSHIP systems
  • Define and achieve T.A.R.G.E.T. goals
  • Stop and revive yourself, and renew your focus in Sanctuary
  • Consistently define and achieve a Weekly W.I.N.

Download my latest T.A.R.G.E.T. Goals Guide for Employees here. 

Weekly W.I.N.

"W.I.N." stands for What's Important Now?  I got it from Solid Networks of Modesto, California and use it with their permission. 

Each week take a Sanctuary break for self accountability.  Did you achieve what you set out to do this past week?  What are your very top priorities this upcoming week?  (There is more, but these steps are critical to achieving a Weekly WIN and annual TARGET goals.)

Sanctuary time is uninterrupted time.  Email and instant messaging is off.  No interruptions.  No phone calls.  Just focus your mind to work on your business, not in it.

Your Weekly WIN are the three most important milestones or tasks you must complete during the upcoming week to move closer to achieving your annual goals.  (Never define more than three strands so you stay focused on what is truly most important.)

Individually these activities may not seem very important, but collectively they are crucial small steps towards achieving meaningful work each year.  Over time the collection of these three weekly activities also protect us from failure or ongoing mistakes, systematically build a fortress of success, and strengthen our company's defense against competitors and anyone who might question our productivity

Some key thoughts:

  1. The discipline of weekly achieving a Weekly WIN is a strong climbing “rope” (3strands LEADERSHIP) to reach your vision of success (whatever you have defined success to be).
  2. Your Weekly WIN should be listed in order of priority.
  3. You should review your Weekly WIN daily.  For your direct reports, we suggest you review their status either daily or on Tuesday (day 2) and Thursday (day 4) of each week for accountability.

Here is an example of a Weekly WIN:

Week of May 10, 2015

  • Rehearse No Drama Charm School soft skill training presentation
  • Complete final two Strategic Plans for my team
  • Track work in our PSA (1) Enter all time;  (2)Confirm the Smith project process is entered correctly;  (3) Confirm contacts in our PSA are our primary Client contacts

Week of May 3, 2015

  • Enter time for all of my work in our PSA software - COMPLETE
  • Get Ralph to complete all of his Strategic Plans this week - COMPLETE
  • Complete final edits to all current support documents - COMPLETE

One approach to managing the Weekly WIN's of your team...

Require your people to email their draft Weekly WIN, or post it on a common site like Basecamp or a ticket in your PSA, at least one day before you meet for your weekly 1:1.  This gives you time to review their key objectives for the week and prepare valuable feedback.  If they are holding themselves accountable and no manager is involved, then encourage them to follow this same process on their own, of course without the email.

Require that you confirm their Weekly WIN.  You might suggest or even require changes such as rewording or shifting their order of priority, but that is okay.  Share your insights and confirm they are focused on what is most important.

Require them to reserve time in their calendar to achieve their Weekly WIN.  These event entries protect time in their schedule to do the work, and allow them to balance this work throughout the week rather than rushing to complete the work at the last minute, or allowing unexpected needs to be overwhelmoing.


Not the plan

At 8:58 p.m. on Wednesday, October 20, 2016 I got a call on my mobile phone from Amanda, our oldest son Luke's wife.

She never calls me.

She had just gotten a call that Luke had been in a terrible car accident.  She was on her way to the scene now.  She did not know what condition he was in, but felt I should know.

That's a call you do not want to get. But I'd rather get the call, than not know.

Luke is in his 10th year with the Los Angeles City Fire Department.  He was driving to his home in Central California after a training day.  He was within a few miles of home when a guy ran a stop sign and "T-boned" him

A "T-bone" is when two cars collide and form a "T."  This guy was driving a Dodge Grand Caravan.  Luke is alive today because the impact point on his Saturn caught enough of the frame of his car that comes down at the front of the driver's door.  If the other driver had hit Luke's car one foot more in the center of his driver's door, then Luke might have been killed.  (Yes, that is an actual photo of the wreck above.)

That evening Luke had no memory of the accident.  As a matter of fact, he did not even know what day it was.  He still has no memory of the accident, but has been able to assemble the facts of what happened through skid marks, the location of the wreck, and other facts.

We are extremely thankful that Luke did not have any broken bones or internal bleeding.  He has a nasty scar on his left temple, and has had other injuries that have kept him from returning to work.  However, he is alive and hopefully, will mostly heal.

This wasn't the plan Luke had that night.

Our plans can be compared to rock climbing.  Each move is planned.  Each grip carefully grabbed.  Every pinion methodically hammered in...  yet the unexpected happens.

What can you do when you have a plan, but something totally unforeseen occurs? Something where certain parts of your life can never be experienced again, and maybe you have to fight to hold on to what is left?

When "it wasn't the plan" occurs, DISRUPTION occurs.

EXAMPLE #1:  Perhaps you planned for significant growth in 2016 but it did not happen.

DISRUPTION:  Other plans are put on hold.  The question is, what will you do differently in 2017 so the mistakes of 2016 and earlier are less likely to be repeated?

EXAMPLE #2:  A top employee quits to work for another company.  He or she felt unappreciated in your organization or the other firm offers more growth.

DISRUPTION:  You have to find a replacement, which takes time, money, and risk (that your hiring decision will be correct - the new person you hire can perform at a similar level.)  What will you do differently as a leader to keep your employees more fully engaged and employed at your company longer?

EXAMPLE #3:  You lose a major Client or funding "commitment."

DISRUPTION:  You have to plan and methodically replace that revenue or funding.  If you scramble, you may make mistakes that cause more problems.  What will you do differently to make certain Clients stay with you, or funding commitments are REAL commitments?

EXAMPLE #4:  You get that call similar to the one I got about Luke, but maybe it is worse news.  Or maybe, just maybe, it's unexpectedly bad news about your health or someone hurts you physically.

My brother, Phil, was a strong, 6' 1" 205 pound electrician in excellent health.  At 49 years old he suddenly did not feel well and there seemed to be something in his chest or gut.  He went to the doctor.  He had leukemia.  No warning.  He gallantly fought a 13 year battle with the disease and died on February 13, 2014.

You'll never see disruption before it occurs. You only get to live this year once. Do not live 2017 like you lived 2016.  Do it better.

Most people cannot comprehend this message.  They understand the words, but fail to comprehend the meaning.

Make changes on your own.  Hire a coach.  Work with a spiritual mentor. Do it better.

Don't be a poster child for the theory of insanity:  "The definition of insanity is doing something over and over again and expecting a different result."  (Sometimes attributed to Albert Einstein, but apparently he was not the first to say it, or maybe never said it.)

How should you plan for 2017? Start by committing to not waste the year.  Commit to be better. Do you need another example of why this is important? Then try this…  Scroll down the Hope Heals | About Us webpage to watch their video.

The truth is you do not know what tomorrow will bring forth.  Too often we hear someone boasting about what they will achieve or encouraging others to embrace the meaning of achieving some lofty goal for a new year.

Oftentimes those goals are fun to achieve.  Even meaningful. Then again, other times they are only a diversion.  A goal can be another lost year down Selfish Street or Distraction Drive.

Before you go driving down your 2017 road, first look in your rearview mirror. What did you leave behind last year that was under your control?

  • A relationship?
  • Your health?
  • A meaningful goal that got crowded out by less important activities?

Or did something happen to you, or someone you appreciate, that was out of your / their control? Do not try to vindicate yourself this year.

If you sincerely want a better year, then you have to be intentional and disciplined.  You have to apply what you can learn from last year, rather than just race ahead.

Tenacity is applying what you learned and then keep trying.  Persistence is just to keep trying.  Notice the difference?  Choose to be tenacious.

Do not allow others to scream their selfish needs into your calendar and crowd out your meaningful life any more.

When you spend money, it is gone forever.  You traded it for a momentary pleasure.  In contrast, when you wisely invest money it goes to work for you.

Stop spending time foolishly.  You will never be this age again.

Decide how to invest your time in 2017 in ways that enable you to focus on what is truly most important. While you can.

P.S.  Thank you Katherine and Jay Wolf for reminding us that Hope Heals!


Uniters Wash Their Hands

Let me paraphrase an old teaching.  Then I can apply it specifically to leadership:

Wash your hands, you fools, and purify your hearts, you leaders with double standards...

The phrase, “wash your hands,” jumped off the page at me late last week.  I had to pause and let it sink in.

When faced with “dirty hands” – a problem - “Bad Bosses” too often procrastinate, avoid the issue, blame someone else, and/or take shortcuts.

UNITERS must make a different choice, and develop better habits.

Everyone can be a leader who seeks to UNITE people.  However, this requires us to “wash our hands” by ethically engaging our team to resolve problems in ways that make the issue unlikely to return.

Working with and/or directing others to resolve problems is more short-term work, but less long-term pain. My theme this month is being a UNITER, not a Divider.

Which type of person, or leader, are you? The first takes intentional effort.  The latter comes naturally to everyone in varying degrees.

Washing hands is not my problem.  (My Dad was a cleanliness freak and a great guy.) Wash your hands, you fools, and purify your hearts, you leaders with double standards...

The next command, however, is deeper.  Purify your heart is an ongoing issue because I am not flawless.  My thoughts are not always the best.  I make mistakes.

I am struck by the need to first “purify” our hearts rather than judge others.  When we do not hold ourselves accountable first, then we typically go straight to double standards.  That is not a UNITER discipline.

For instance, remember that person who was… Racing up the freeway and following your car so close that they were almost in your back seat?  Why was that jerk in such a hurry?  It was stressful and made you mad.

BUT, what about your behavior days before that when you were in a hurry driving?

Remember that person who was…  late delivering on their commitment to get you something?  That really messes you up!  How could they do that?  Don’t they have any integrity?

BUT, what about the deadline you missed recently, asked for an extension, and got it?  (Was that from the same person?)

Remember that boss, other employee, peer who is not treating you the way you want.  It can hurt your feelings, or maybe even make you mad.  Why do they have to be such a jerk?  Or so lazy?  Or whatever…?

BUT, what about when your tone of voice recently was sharp, condescending, or otherwise unpleasant?  When did you last say something negative about someone else in your workplace, and/or fail to compliment someone?

Your lack of appreciation triggered natural reciprocity.  This is the natural tendency to match someone else’s behavior.  (We teach this in our Workplace Drama course of Dave’s Charm School.)

This is just three examples.  I bet you have more.

Wash your hands, you fools, and purify your hearts, you leaders with double standards...

What could this ancient exhortation mean for leaders today? I suggest one application is the following: Commit to be a humble person of integrity who is a consistent role model for your company values and standards.  This is a UNITER.

Here are 7 steps to “wash your hands:”

1.  Submit

When making decisions, discern if the true sense of your heart, emotions you feel, the words you will speak, and the actions you will take, fully demonstrate your company values and standards.  Submit your desires to, and unite others through the higher purpose of your organization.

2.  Resist

Know the triggers to your bad habits.  Do not be tempted into emotion or shortcuts.  Recognize when something motivates you to react in a selfish way.  Stop.  Breathe.  Respond by choosing a healthier path.  Resist the reaction.  Choose the higher ground.  Unite by intentionally responding, not instinctively reacting.

3.  Accept

Take full responsibility for your portion of mistakes.  (Don't accept blame on behalf of others.)  Work to develop new, more powerful habits to avoid those mistakes in the future.  Accept your part in the problem, at times without requiring others to do the same.  Unite by reconciling with a positive spirit.

4.  Apologize

Don't be afraid to express sincere sorrow for your mistakes.  Remove the burden of guilt from your heart...  and your legacy.  Apologize respectfully so you can move forward with greater freedom.  Unite by building bridges.

5.  Be humble

Avoid double standards.  Hold yourself accountable to your company values and standards first.  Do it even when others are not.  Consider the life wounds of the other party, the facts, and the solution more than the comparatively brief impact of the problem or the pain of their disrespect.  Unite with humility.

6.  Encourage

Enforce and/or encourage accountability with employees / coworkers.  Do this by reminding people of your company values, standards, and the expectations of others.  Remind yourself and others that, "This is the way we behave in our family."  Ask questions and be open to ideas with integrity.  Be firm on what boundaries cannot be crossed.  Unite with encouragement and your example.

7. Be Thankful

Express sincere gratitude for your blessings and what you want to encourage in others.  It may be something small.  Do not let a person's mistakes block their positive traits from your consideration.  Unite with sincere gratitude.

Wash your hands often.  It removes possible disease.  It also is a visual reminder of a higher calling to cleanse ourselves of our weaknesses first, develop the strengths of others second, and always be actively uniting our people in meaningful work.


Be a Uniter, not a Divider

We are at a time in the history of the world when we need leaders who are uniters, not dividers.

DIVIDER EXAMPLE:  The toxic American presidential campaign of 2016.  This was an example of extreme narcissism by both candidates and voters.  Yet, as leaders, we must not be tempted to point fingers at others and dividing people by playing the “Blame Game.”

UNITER EXAMPLENelson Mandela.  No one is perfect, but Mandela could have easily chosen to be a divider.  Yet he consciously and intentionally chose to unite people.

Mandela, similar to President Ronald Reagan, achieved a lot with a smile and finding areas of commonality, yet during their leadership peaks there were multitudes of dividers working against them.

I would like to be that type of leader, a uniter.  Wouldn't you?

Get real.  Accept the fact that you are a role model.  This occurs intentionally or unintentionally, no matter what you job title is.

Good role models, or bad role models.  You have to make a conscious choice.  Otherwise you fall into the trap of being an example of more bad habits than you would prefer.

As we approach 2017, I implore you to develop new habits to improve your ability to demonstrate more integrity in all that you do, not just when you feel like it.

Choose to be a uniter, not a divider.

How can you strengthen your best habits or learn new ones to be more of a uniter?

One proven method:  Leaders who change the world around them for good take daily or weekly Sanctuary time to confirm they are still on course to achieve their life's purpose.  This can be 10 to 15 minutes once a week.

Sanctuary can be a longer weekly retreat with meditation, prayer, and assessment of how well you are living out your dreams.

Brief daily reflection is helpful.

Some leaders pause for 2 minutes every couple of hours as a quick self-check.

Without considering the road you have traveled, how can you expect to most efficiently, effectively, and safely get to your destination?

What type of role model are you?

If you daily or weekly assess what you are sensing in your heart, the emotions you feel, the words you speak, and the actions you take, then you are wise.  Most likely you are at peace, are productive, humble, and fulfilled in your work.

Is that the way you feel?

Self-accountability comes before holding others accountable.


The wisest man who ever lived advised that we must first improve ourselves before we focus significant effort to judge others.

I encourage you to develop the leadership habit and discipline of a Reality Check in weekly Sanctuary.  This is for your growth and personal fulfillment.  Here is a simple process to pilot Sanctuary in your professional and/or personal life:

#1 - Choose a day and time where you can be alone without distractions weekly for your in-depth Sanctuary time.  No email, instant messaging, texting, or phone interruptions.

#2 - Commit to a period of weekly Sanctuary time that is realistic.  You may want to start with as little as 10-15 minutes.  Or maybe 30-60 minutes.  The important thing is to be realistic and consistent.  You are developing a new habit.

#3 - Define your agenda.  In general, you are focusing on…
     - How well did I complete my key priorities for last week? 
     - What issues or questions do I need to resolve? 
     - What do I need to get done this week to stay on track to achieve my annual goals?
     - When do I need to schedule time in my calendar to achieve this week's priorities?

#4 - I suggest defining a Weekly W.I.N. (What's Important Now) in your Sanctuary time:
     - 1-3 tasks to complete weekly that relate to achieving your annual goals.
     - Schedule time in your calendar Monday-Wednesday to complete your Weekly WIN.  This way if you have to "fight a fire," then you can catch up on Thursday or Friday and still be on track.
     - Review your WIN at the start of each work day for self-accountability.
     - Your Weekly WIN is NOT a to-do list that lives on forever.

Develop this habit, and then teach it to your team.  Require them to meet with you weekly.  Your meeting agenda can be as simple as #3 above.


In brief, they are all around us and always will be. The primary problem is that people are instinctively selfish.

Selfishness increases due to the media, social media, manipulation by others, addictions, and how the pains of our life experience affect our reactive responses. defines a narcissist as “a person who is overly self-involved, and often vain and selfish.”

You can choose to be different. Start with a decision to be your best.

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