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Human Resources Today
Thursday
Dec142017

Employee strategic plans - WOW!

Job descriptions are dead because they are static documents that died on completion. Into the file folder they go... never to be seen again.

Instead, why not create a success plan for every team member?

Last week I explained how to avoid assumptions. The week before I shared secrets on how to better hit your TARGETs in 2018. Today is the 3rd of my 4 secrets to make next year, your best year.

Consider this statistic from the Gallup State of the American Workplace released in September 2014:

“Managers who focus on their employees’ strengths can practically

eliminate active disengagement

and double the average

of U.S. workers who are engaged...”

What percentage of your employees are fully engaged in pursuing a clear plan for success?

According to Tony Schwartz in The Harvard Business Review, over 100 studies conclude only 20% of your employees are fully engaged.

Kind of makes you want to puke, doesn't it?

My 4 secrets can help you turn the tide... You help them set meaningful TARGETs. You avoid assumption drama with clear Expectations.

Now let's get all of this into a strategic plan for each team member.

The Process is Simple

Here is a brief overview of the process to create and manage employee strategic plans ("SP"):

Download a complete sample employee strategic plan (Word | PDF)

#1 - Team members draft their strategic plan for success.

#2 - Meet to agree on the plan. Focus on meaningful win-win's.

#3 - Manage the plan weekly or biweekly. Stay on top of it.

#4 - Follow-up without fail.

#5 - Evolve the plan. Learn from mistakes; evolve as needed.

#6 - Celebrate accomplishments.

#7 - Renew commitment. Update plans annually.

Check out our sample plan above. Use the Word templates to create your own.

The information in the header and graphics on the first page are from our MANAGEtoWIN Talent Assessments.

Thursday
Dec072017

How to put expectations in writing

Last week I explained how to better hit your TARGETs in 2018. Today is the 2nd of my 4 secrets to make next year, your best year.

A major problem in the workplace is assumptions are made between coworkers, and between bosses and their direct reports.

The bad habit of making assumptions wastes time, increases conflict, and causes setbacks.

My Expectations exercise is an adaptation of a process developed about 20+ years ago by leadership consultant and author, Jud Boies, a friend of mine.

Written Expectations define how a professional relationship between individuals, individual and team, or between two teams will work.  

Here are three ways writing effective Expectations and its execution is similar to baking a cake:

1)  Recipe:  You need a proven, easy-to-follow recipe to bake a beautiful cake that tastes amazing.  The recipe replaces assumptions and guesses with a step-by-step process that define clear measurements.  Similarly, my Expectations Guide has 15 examples and explains the process of writing and following-through on expectations shared between two or more people.

2)  Mix & Bake: Following a sequence to get things done is often overlooked and steps are skipped in a rush to get to the final product.  This results in poorly baked cake.  Similarly, you must follow the process when writing and following-up on Expectations with others.

3)  Enjoy:  When baking a cake, you set the oven temperature and time to cook it. Otherwise the cake does not rise properly, or is under/overdone. Similarly, set a schedule to agree upon mutual Expectations with your partner/colleague/friend, and stick to it. If you do this consistently, your relationship will "rise" positively as expected.

When writing expectations, you can:

  • Describe tangible things you need from the other party to be more productive. This might include properly working equipment, reports, and other items that resolve recurring problems.
  • Define how you expect the other party to behave in your work relationship. Your list should be more than just negative behaviors that you expect the other person to correct.  Make certain your Expectations also reinforce the behaviors you appreciate and want the person to continue to demonstrate.

The Bottom Line

Do not assume the other person knows how you want them to behave. Define the behaviors you need from them to perform your best.

There is more to learn. Download my free Expectations guide. You will not only define your goals more effectively, but achieve them faster.

Email us if you need help.

Why accept anything less than the best you can be?

P.S. Next week I will share my 3rd secret to make next year your best year. It is a great reminder that you get what you expect.

P.P.S. We now have only 4 openings left in our Certified LEADER class beginning the week of January 8th! Learn more here.

Friday
Dec012017

What's the ONE thing for great leadership?

Deloitte says high leadership maturity leads to 37% higher revenue.

QUESTION: How effective are your leaders?

What's the ONE Thing that develops your young or less effective leaders to "high leadership maturity?"

TRAINING

Check out some of the key benefits of high leadership maturity from Deloitte:

Consider the cost of doing nothing, versus the benefits of developing your leaders...

We have a unique solution for I.T. managed service providers: Our Certified LEADER program that begins the week of January 8. Learn more here. There are still a few openings, but not for long...

Poor performing employees are the result of leaders with bad habits.

Improve your leaders to increase employee productivity and engagement.

Thursday
Nov302017

Set 2018 TARGETS now

2018 is one month away. In the next 4 weeks you can learn my 4 secrets to make next year, your best year.

Let me start with goals, which I call TARGETs.

T.A.R.G.E.T. goals (a "TARGET" or "TARGETs") are clear, measurable objectives with due dates that are pursued systematically to completion with encouragement, assistance, and accountability.

The acronym T.A.R.G.E.T. helps you write a clear, measurable goal with a due date in a sentence that everyone understands. Here is a quick overview:

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

TARGETs are consistent with the SMART method of goal writing, however, TARGETs are easier to write because the acronym TARGET defines how to write the objective in a sentence. 

Here is an example of a clear, measurable TARGET: 

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.

ADVICE: Drop the "To" at the beginning of the sentence after you define the TARGET. Starting a TARGET with an action verb challenges people whenever they read it. For example, the TARGET above becomes: 

Increase consultant utilization rates to 78 percent for the quarter.

ADVICE: Do not write goals negatively. For instance, the TARGET above could be written as a negative: Do not allow unbillable time to exceed 22 percent average for the quarter. Instead, always develop your TARGETs to emphasize a positive contribution.

NOW LET'S MAKE IT FUN

A target in competitive archery has 10 evenly spaced concentric rings with values of 1-10, plus an "inner 10 ring" or "X ring" in the center. Striking the inner 10 ring is considering a "bullseye." Scoring values equal the number of the ring you strike. For instance, hitting the 3 ring, the third ring in from the outside, is valued at 3 points.

For our purposes we define TARGETs as:

Bullseye: Start by defining an important, clear, measurable, time-bound TARGET.

Inner Rings: List the 1-5 metrics, tasks, and/or milestones that lead to achieving the bullseye TARGET.

Outer Rings: If you want, add 1-5 metrics, tasks, and/or milestones that lead to achieving an inner ring, and ultimately the bullseye.

Here is an example:

Configure a server without errors on my own by October 30

  • Gain manager-defined experience with server administrative duties quarterly
  • Study four or more hours towards my certifications weekly
  • Share something I learn in my certification study with my team weekly
  • Achieve Microsoft MCTS: Windows 7, Configuration by end of Q2
  • Achieve SonicWALL Security Administrator (CSSA) by end of Q4
  • Actively participate in applicable Company-sponsored training activities

The TARGET: Configure a server without errors on my own by October 30.

Inner Ring example: Gain manager-defined experience with server administrative duties quarterly.

Outer Ring example: Study four or more hours towards my certifications weekly.

There is more to learn. Download my free TARGETs guide. You will not only define your goals more effectively, but achieve them faster.

Email us if you need help.

Why accept anything less than the best you can be?

P.S. Next week I will share my 2nd secret to make next year, your best year. It is a great reminder that you get what you expect.

P.P.S. We still have a few openings in our Certified LEADER class beginning the week of January 8th. Learn more here.

Tuesday
Nov072017

How the best stay focused

If you are flying one degree off-course you miss your target by 92 feet for every mile flown. For every 60 miles of flying you are one mile off your target.

That is just one degree off...

How do you stay on track to achieve your most important TARGETs, objectives, goals?

Sanctuary

Lee Iacocca led an effort that saved Chrysler Corporation from bankruptcy decades ago. One of the leadership disciplines he credited for helping achieve that success was every Sunday evening he would separate himself from the family to spend two hours in his study.

He was alone. No interruptions. No email. He held himself accountable. Being inspired by Iaccoca, at the end of each hunting season (week) we should do a simple three-step accountability process:

  • Score: Did I accomplish my weekly WIN this past week?
  • Help: Where do I need help, or to make adjustments to stay on track? This can be tasks, people, resources…
  • Hunt: What should be my key objectives ("WIN") for the upcoming week?

Achieving TARGETs is primarily a function of (1) Focus; and (2) Time management. Therefore the best thing you can do is to have a weekly time to focus yourself.  I call this time, Sanctuary, because it is without interruptions. (You have to make it that way.)

There can be daily and weekly times of Sanctuary.

Wednesday
Nov012017

Keep waiting... and build into 2018

Have you ever considered that you are in a race? The longer you wait to enter the race, the farther others are ahead of you.

No comprende? Let's try it again: Professionally, you are in a race, whether you like it or not. The truth is, others are ahead of you.

Reality can be depressing.

However, there is light amidst our darkness. Some of your competitors left early, before the "starter's gun." Therefore they may be taking a path that leads to a different destination, one that accomplishes less than your vision.

Or they are not headed to your destination at all.

Technically, they are ahead of you, but that may not matter.

Also, each individual or team with whom you are competing has a different combination of strengths and weaknesses than you, and your team have.

Toe-to-toe or head-to-head, you may have an advantage.

However, this is only true if you get in the game. Procrastination is quitting before you play. Are you going to play, or procrastinate?

Often the difference between a winner and an average player is the winner got started, while the average player waited too long.

2 Months To GO - What's Your Plan?

Remember all that leadership stuff you wanted to do at the beginning of 2017, and how you wanted to address the toxic areas of your company culture?

How much progress have you made?

Now with two months left in 2017, what should you do?

ONE SOLUTION: Take a "Goldilocks approach" to address any disease infecting your leadership team and company culture during November-December 2017.

#1 - Do not go too slow

Yes, you need to have knowledge before you act.

However, knowledge without action achieves nothing. Often, it is actually a setback because it leaves you vulnerable to negative impact of your organization's (or personal life) disease(s).

Gather enough information about your most critical issues so your actions are focused on healing your true diseases, rather than distracting, emotional dramas.

#2 - Do not go too fast

Yes, you need to take action.

However, action without knowledge can cause more problems.

Prioritize the issues you want to address, clearly, specifically, and with deadlines. Create clear TARGETs in a simple one-page plan.

#3 - Goldilocks speed

Balance the research you need to do to confirm the most critical issues and timelines for resolution, with a clear, all-in commitment by your entire team to change.

Start your work now so you have momentum going into 2018. This gives you the opportunity to make next year, your best year ever.

Isn't that what we all should want?

Everybody wants to win, even though we may have different definitions of a "win." Vince Lombardi said, "Winning is a habit." Life proves that lesson to be true.

Build better habits so you can be the best leader you can be, employees can have fulfilling careers, and your clients are thankful for your services.

Thursday
Oct262017

Simple, Sticky Deadlines

What percentage of the time do you hit your deadlines?

How about your coworkers, or direct reports?

A survey once concluded 75% of the reason I.T. projects fail is missed deadlines. How about your work?

SIMPLE SOLUTION

Step #1

Define the outcome / deliverable / task / goal... in a clear and measurable way. (My TARGET method can be downloaded here.)

Step #2

Ask each person responsible for an outcome to define the day and time of day they will deliver.

Why include time of day? To avoid assumptions. i.e. Ruth may say Friday is her deadline. Frank thinks "Friday" means 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning. Ruth means midnight on Friday... avoid the drama!

Step #3

After the conversation, confirm details and deadlines via email. (Require a response confirming receipt and agreement.)

Use attachments for lengthy copy. No long emails...

Step #4

1-2 Days before the deadline, other team members or a leader may email (paper trail) or verbally ask (soft touch) the person under the deadline:

"Is there anything you need from me to complete (the outcome) by your deadline on _________?"

You are NOT contacting them with threats, negativity, or to play "whack-a-mole."

Use a polite, respectful tone of voice, audibly or written.

Be sincere. Be brief. Be gone.

If they ask for help, then follow-through with excellence and no complaining.

Make it safe for people to ask for help.

If people need help twice in a row or more, then something is wrong with your process, expectations, and/or their skills.

Do something to help them.

Teach them how to better estimate deadlines and manage their time. Adjust their workload. If at this time they should have the knowledge, skills, and experience, then hold them to higher performance standards.

If they should be able to match the consistency of your timeliness, but cannot, then it may be time to encourage them to find work elsewhere.

Or, if there is a problem with your example - you are the role model - then come alongside them and improve your time management skills together.

LEADERSHIP Lesson: Do not tolerate late work as being typical. It negatively affects others, and results. Use Systematic Power to follow-up with Sincere Gratitude for the individual to improve timely performance and WIN.

I hope your 4Q is strong and 2018 bright!

Thursday
Sep072017

Are you toast?

It's another morning.  Whether you bless it, or curse it, today has arrived! Some people fight the day plus each person, opportunity, and nuance that comes their way. That's no way to live your life.

Let me take you on a journey from toast, to aikido principles, to better leadership.

Toast

We can have toast in the morning two ways:  With negative energy or positive energy.  Let's say, "Neville" has negative energy and "Pam" has positive energy.

Neville and Pam both enjoy toast in the morning as part of their breakfast.  They want to butter their toast immediately when it emerges from their toaster.  This melts the butter so they can savor the warm, buttery toast to start their day.

However, today, they forgot to put out the butter the night before, or at least 30 minutes before they need to eat.  Instead of soft butter to spread on their toast, the butter is hard. 

Neville grumbles and chops chunks of butter, one at a time and tries to butter his toast.  The hard butter flips over rather than spreads.  The hard butter tears the bread.  The end result looks more like a battlefield than a tasty treat. 

Neville fights the negative situation.  He leaves his breakfast frustrated, not looking forward to his day.

Pam takes a different approach. 

She redirects the negative situation by slicing pieces of butter as thin as she can and lays them on the toast to melt the butter with the heat of the hot bread.  After the butter melts a bit, then she spreads it out Goldilocks style: Not too much so it is dripping butter and unhealthy, not so little that some parts of the bread are left naked without butter, but just right, covering the toast fully and evenly.

Pam redirects the negative to create a positive.  The result is a treat to enjoy, and optimism to step forward into her day.

Aikido

Rob Schenk of Intivix is a black belt in aikido.  You can hear us talk about this on our No Bad Bosses podcast.  You might want to consider Rob's application of aikido in leadership to redirect negative energy and increase positive results.

Similar to Pam's approach in my simple toast example, the principles of aikido are demonstrated by great leaders who do not directly block or resist an attack or negative energy.  

Instead, through training, these leaders develop habits to blend into the situation rather than try to be a wall against a flood, then they instinctively assess the threat and calculate the effect of different responses they can take to control it.  Lastly, they redirect the energy away from themselves and their organization.

Jesus redirected the negative energy of demons controlling two men in Matthew 8, redirecting the demons into a herd of nearby pigs.  He had the power to directly confront them, but in that situation he taught others to redirect the negative energy.

Life is a constant experience of mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical attacks.  Aikido principles of centered response, utilization of energy, and nonresistant redirection can be applied by leaders to each of these situations.

Instinctively you may want to strike back or take another approach to block the force of an attack.  This may or may not be effective, but it always depletes your positive energy.

One problem with this approach is the Law of Natural Reciprocity.  This is our natural tendency to match someone else's behavior.

Positive Reciprocity:  Someone does something good to you, and you feel obligated to return the favor.

Negative Reciprocity:  Someone is mean to you, and you want to "get even" because you feel hurt.

Choosing negative reciprocity often wears you out, to a certain extent.

Better Leadership

In contrast, the principles of aikido teach leaders how to respond rather than react to an attack.  A leader does not strike back or otherwise attempt to block the force of the attack.  

Instead, you shift slightly off the line of attack and move towards the incoming energy to unite with the attacker's power.  You connect to control the direction and momentum of the attack, and then redirect the negative energy to a place where it cannot harm you.

In some ways the aikido approach is similar to using active listening to defuse an angry person.  Here is a quick walk-through of active listening ("LEARN") that I wrote based on something from the U.S. National Guard:

Listen to the message received carefully and attentively.  Keep an open mind to what is being said and don't be quick to offer advice or solutions.

Emotions speak louder than words.  It is important to discern the other person's emotions as well as the information they are conveying without initially judging the sender or the message sent.

Ask open questions (what, why, how) to discover issues and closed questions (who, would, where) to clarify details.

Repeat back key parts to summarize what you heard, and confirm you understand the information correctly.  Relate correction or issues to "Bad Cop" standard(s).  Reinforce how you will help them ("Good Cop").

Next steps are confirmed, if any.

See if you can apply this to a tense situation you have had recently, or experience today.  This might be an opportunity to develop a new, powerful leadership skill based on ancient wisdom and proven practices.

Thursday
Aug312017

3 Insights from my friends in Sisters, Oregon

Our family moved back to Novato, California, just north of San Francisco on July 30th.  We had tried living in Sisters, Oregon since mid-January.  It turned out we were too optimistic about our ability to see our three grown children and five grandchildren from there.  So... we came back rather quickly!

I miss three things about Sisters, although there are other aspects I enjoyed:

  1. Space - There are no traffic lights, and only one (new) roundabout in Sisters.  The biggest road is in nearby Bend, and it is only two lanes each way.  Traffic issues are rare, and mainly due to summer events in Sisters.  There are workarounds.
  2. Sisters Coffee - In my opinion, Sisters Coffee is the most wonderful coffee shop on earth.  It is a great meeting place for all, and can compete with any Starbucks for customer traffic, but has better coffee and treats.  The fresh-cooked, Rainshadow Country Breakfast is superb, and only outclassed by the attentive, sincerely smiling, warm people who serve you.
  3. People - Most importantly, I made four friends in Sisters whom I hope to have for a lifetime - Jerry, Mark, Pete, and Kevin.  (I had more time with Jerry and Mark.)

My friends shared their wisdom with me.  I got dozens of ideas.  I always felt like they gave me much more than I gave them.  Some advice or sharing of stories was personal, and many combined how to make better personal and business decisions. 

Let me share three key insights in hopes they spark a new perspective or habit in you.

Clarity

I asked each of these guys how to hear God more clearly in my prayers and throughout each day.  Bill Hybels calls these voices or nudges, "promptings."  None of them used that term, but each shared what they had learned in their journey. 

Jerry shared a perspective that really stuck with me:  At any given time we have three voices in our head trying to tell us what to do.  The trick is discerning which is which BEFORE we take action.  Here is how to recognize each of them:

The Devil

The message is evil in any way.  Rebuke and remind him that he has no authority in my life.

Yourself

If selfish, then repent (humble myself before God and admit my mistake) and move away.

Holy Spirit

If the thoughts are full of grace and truth, then it's God.  Whatever that voice says, you listen and obey as fast as you can.

Decisions

Once you have discerned what to do, then what?  It seems easy, but too often many of us procrastinate or get distracted by the next shiny object that flutters across our path.

Pete advised, "When you receive your answer you have to act on it."  He referenced an ancient text from James (1:5-6) which encourages you to ask, believe the answer, and not doubt. 

The text touched me so much that I extended it to start at verse 2 and continue through the first part of verse 6.  I review this regularly.  Interestingly, I shared James' advice with someone last week.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  (NIV)

I added the boldface to share part of the reason this teaching appeals to me.  We all make mistakes.  Many of us have difficulty letting go of past mistakes due to our high standards.  I love the reminder that God does not find fault, but gives generously.  Kevin Finkbiner of New Life Petaluma also encouraged me with this teaching last year.

There is a lot more there too. 

(1) We will always face trials, not we might have difficulties

(2) When we push through trials we develop the skill of perseverance (or I prefer the word, "tenacity")

(3) Challenges might not be fun, but they are necessary for growth

(4) Eventually we may not have everything, but we can lack nothing important

(5) We can ask God for wisdom

(6) God answers prayer when we believe and not doubt, and lastly

(7) Doubts are the essence of an un-meaningful life

We must believe in something to thrive in this life.

Jerry reinforced this in another conversation when he shared that nothing good in life comes without pressure. 

However, too much pressure is a pressure cooker, or broaster oven.  A pressure cooker or broaster can create great food, but if you leave the food in too long it explodes. 

This is a good analogy about procrastinating too long after getting an answer...

Relationships

Mark shared and demonstrated how he builds and sustains relationships.  Do you do any of these regularly?

(a)  Mark meets with his lovely wife, Sheila, most work afternoons about 4:00 p.m. at their home to have freshly ground Sisters Coffee, sit at opposite ends of a window seat, and share what happened in their day.  They have three girls, and the last one is about to go off to college.  This is a bit easier as empty nesters, but still, it all comes down to our priorities...  doesn't it?

(b)  Mark and I met at Sisters Coffee, 8:00 a.m., every Tuesday that we were both in town.  No agenda except to deepen our friendship... even after Mark learned in March that we would not be staying in Sisters. 

(c)  Someone else told the story of how Mark passed a guy on the road near his mother's home who was living on public land in a trailer last winter.  Something about the guy struck him as kind of odd. 

The following day Mark gave him a ride and learned his story.  He then returned with Judah and Bob, buddies from Westside Sisters, to use his mother's John Deere tractor and snow shovels to find the guy's vehicle, dig him out, and fix him up with some necessary supplies. 

There was another time during a Giving Tree event before Christmas 2016 when Sheila, the girls, and Mark came across a homeless woman living in her small RV under a pile of snow and did the same for her.  Dug her out, started her vehicle, charged her batteries, trained her on how to use the motorhome, got her some clothes, and took her to his mom's where she could shower and stay a few days.

PAUSE and think about that. 

What would America, and this world be like if we all shared Mark's empathy and willingness to serve others?

Mark is not the only person who does this type of thing, and he would not boast about it.  However, these two stories are good reminders that most of us could better notice people in our community who have sincere needs and give them an occasional hand up.

Mark and Pete helped us pack our truck to move back to California.  It brings tears to my eyes.  Jerry, Mark and two other guys helped us unload on one of the coldest days of this past winter - January 13.  (I feel badly that I can't remember the other two guys' names.) 

Jerry stayed outside the entire time in sub-freezing weather, unloading a fully packed 26' truck, 20' truck, a Suburban, and Toyota Sienna van.  He prayed over every package as Mark, myself, Jeff our son, Ted his friend, and two friends of Jerry's worked inside or outside to get through it all.  I sure miss those guys...

(d)  Last example of how Mark lives his life:  Mark believes in memories.  He and his family enjoy Lake Shasta for a week each summer with one or more other families.  They regularly do other trips together. 

My favorite activity of Mark's:  He, his buddy Todd, and son-in-law did a "trifecta" in early June - In the morning they snow skied on Mount Bachelor;  midday they played 9 holes of golf;  and to close out the afternoon, they went waterskiing on the Prineville Reservoir. 

Mark reminded me that to have friends and be close to your spouse, you have to invest time with them doing fun and/or meaningful things.  

Don't let the busyness of life crowd out the joy of life.

I got to know my last Sisters' friend, Kevin, just before leaving.  However, I hope he joins my buddy list for years to come.  He's a special guy too.

3 Voices...  3 tips for today.  

I hope something here gave you inspiration to try something different in your personal and/or professional lives prior to year-end.

Be comfortable with positive change and uncomfortable with drudgery.

Choose joy, because you can.

Monday
Jul312017

7 Choices in Less Than 10 Seconds

These writings are an exception to my typical style. Nevertheless, I have met many leaders who need to commit to change.  These inspirations I received may help you.

Here are 7 Choices you can consider in less than 10 seconds that will make you a better leader:

  1. Feel the progress, not the pressure. 
  2. Choose to compliment, not to condemn. 
  3. Apply past lessons to succeed now, not to believe the lie of never. 
  4. Break your chains.  Cross your chasm.  Be the positive agent of change (you were designed to be).  
  5. "... If any of you lacks wisdom let them ask of God, who gives to all without finding fault, and it will be given to them."  
  6. "... but they who ask must believe and not doubt..."
  7. You can do it. 

Month 7 of 12 is almost gone for 2017.  Make a course correction now if it is needed.

Buddy-up if you need help, with me or someone else you trust.

Make the most of 2017 before this window closes.

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