110: Giving away your secrets

How brave are you?

Most teams wouldn’t doubt their answer until asked to give away their trade secrets. That which they believe makes them competitive, or unique.

So, if you could give away your secrets, would you? For example:

  • Your team’s secret sauce: Giving it away means it’s no longer secret. It also means your genius is finally truly on display for others to make a remark about.
  • How you cut costs or double value: Giving it away means others can do it too. It also means your distinction is easily (favorably) compatible to the marketplace.
  • How you systemize transformation: Giving it away means others can do it too. It also means your audience is better informed and feels safer in your care.

Giving it away means others can do it, too. “Others” includes your target audience. Doing so is an opportunity to serve more deeply.

Are you brave enough?

109: 1-Up

We’ve talked about how A players got that way: by leading B players into A players.

But who leads he/she who leads you?
To leverage a classic video-game term, this person needs a “1-Up”.

I define a 1-Up as “Extending council and grace to whoever is 1-Up from you on your team, so that they can grow, too.”

Giving them a 1-Up will give them ‘extra life’ to serve more powerfully.

Great teams understand that leadership flows both ways.
The rest are either too selfish or too afraid to try.

108: On being hungry

We’ve heard it said, “You need to be hungry to be successful”

Yet if you succeed, you won’t be hungry.

Focusing on your hunger is focusing on the wrong person.

Leadership is about getting others fed. Success starts not with being hungry, but with seeking those who are.

And then doing something about it.

Doing so makes a positive, needed change. One you’ll find, if you look past your own stomach.

107: Compassion and tolerance

“Compassion and tolerance are not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength.” – Dalai Lama

Tolerance, combined with compassion, adds a flexibility to teams and individuals that make them very tough to break.

A team that lacks either won’t survive a storm:

  • A crazy day you managed to pull through. Tolerance lets you survive it, compassion forces you fix it so teammates won’t repeat your mistakes.
  • A project that had issues. Tolerance lets you accommodate and complete it, compassion forces you to address the issues so they don’t reemerge for you or your teammates again.

We need both in equal measure.

One to let us never break down. The other to force us to protect each other, and those we’re business to serve.

106: Adam Standard Time

“He’s still awake? What time zone is he on?”
He’s on Adam Standard Time.’

Of course, this isn’t an actual timezone.

Except it is, for me. I choose my waking hours based on what my body tells me because peak performance comes from knowing myself, not from merely copying others.

This rule applies to all of us:

  • Our language: The best email reply might come from our intuition as well as the manual (assuming the manual doesn’t factor in intuition, it should.)
  • Our roles: The best way to achieve our goals might come from our unique perspective as well as what the Position Agreement document says (assuming the agreement doesn’t flex, it should.)

How can we better appreciate our unique perspectives and incorporate them into our work?

105: Sales isn’t a role

On effective teams, “sales” isn’t a role.

It’s conventional wisdom: “Salesperson bends their arm so Production people can do Product things”. Except:

  • Educating a prospect is sales.
  • Educating a client is sales.
  • Helping them evaluate is sales.
  • Enrolling them with the best fit for them is sales.
  • Onboarding and guiding them is sales.
  • Production is sales.
  • Delivery is sales.
  • Support is sales.

“Sales” means sharing your mindset with those it’ll benefit–and keeping them there. It keeps them moving them toward their goals, removing self-doubt.

The entire team is responsible for that.

Sales isn’t a role. It’s every role.

104: Fast-food teams

Is your team like fast-food?

As with what we eat, teams can fall onto a spectrum ranging from “fast-food” to “organic”.

  • Fast-food teams: These aren’t good for you, nor were they made to be. There is no cause, only a product, and a profit. The old way.
  • Organic teams: These are good for you, on purpose. There is a cause, a product, and a profit. The new way.

As with food, organic tends to cost a bit more, but the product is much better.

Incomparable, really. Both are food, but one is merely a fill, whereas the other contributes toward long-term health and well-being.

Do you buy from fast-food or organic teams?
Do you belong to a fast-food or organic team?

103: Useful distraction

What is ‘distraction’?

It’s an interruption of thought or attention; something we see as a negative, something to be overcome.

What if distractions had something to teach us?

  • A thought gap: A distraction may be telling you there’s something to start, perhaps in your team, that hasn’t happened yet (E.g. “I keep reading about this exciting market shift… perhaps we should do something about it?”)
  • Change needed: Or it may be telling you there’s something to stop–or change–that may have become extraneous or better suited to another team member (E.g. “These reports literally never get read, I dread having to write them.”)

We all get distracted. Perhaps there’s such a thing as a ‘useful distraction’, if we listen to what it’s trying to tell us.

102: Vanilla sponge recipe

Making great vanilla sponge is simple.

Four steps:

  • Step 1: Make lousy vanilla sponge,
  • Step 2: Learn why it was lousy,
  • Step 3: Make slightly less-lousy vanilla sponge,
  • Step 4: Go to Step 2.

To be good cake makers, we need to be prepared to be lousy cake makers, first.

We need to invest in cakes, products, ideas, offers, and ads that don’t work.

We’ve talked how important good vanilla sponge is for great teams. Are you following the recipe?

101: We are not the same

Do you like cats? I don’t.

I don’t mind if you like cats, though.

Whether we’re working with customers and clients, or our fellow team members, we are not the same:

  • The best sales teams know how to adjust their message based on the culture of their prospects.
  • The best content teams know how to adjust their message based on the language and tone of their readers.
  • The best design teams know how to adjust the user’s experience based on what they’ll understand.

Comprenez-vous?

100

What if “doubt” was designed to be useful?

Over the last 100 days, I decided to write one blog post per day.
Over the 100 days prior to that, I hadn’t written any.

One of my favorite formulas proved true again:
“I don’t know if I can do that” + “I choose to do it” = “I did that”.

And it manifested in a familiar order: Hard. To very hard. To not so hard. To manageable. To fast. To easy. To natural.

What’s your doubt? It may just lead you somewhere if you combine it with a choice.

99: Urgency detox

Proactive? You have an addiction problem.

Jumping in. Getting it done. Saving the day. Great traits.

When you’re great with ‘urgency’, you fall out of practice with ‘important’. Perhaps to the point where you may even feel guilty for doing ‘important’ work.

You’re addicted to urgency.
There should be no ‘urgent’.

Once you’re hooked on urgency, you’ll tolerate it, instead of contributing to an environment that never sets on fire.

If you’re a proactive member of your team (and I hope you are), it may be time for an urgency detox.

98: Being asked first

Were you picked last in sports at school?

Do you remember who got picked first? It was normally the one most gifted in that sport. The one that changed the game.

In your market, would your audience pick your team first?

  • If they had a problem, who would they ask first? Whoever they believed had the best implementation strategies (to resolve the problem).
  • If they had an idea, who would they ask first? Whoever they believed had the best divergent-thinking skills (to maximize what’s possible).
  • If they had a referral, who would they ask first? Whoever they believed had the best system (to consistently deliver the same results they received).

Does your team have great strategies, consistent delivery, and the ability to see what’s possible?

You’ll know by how often you get asked first.

97: Modus Operandi

We’ve heard sayings like “What’s her MO?” in TV dramas before.

“MO”–Modus Operandi–is a method of doing something. The Napoleon Hill Foundation defines it as a “Magnificent Obsession”, a positive dream that pushes us forward.

If you work with a great team, you probably have two of these:

  • Your Modus Operandi: Your magnificent obsession–your calling–and your method of pursuing it.
  • Your team’s Modus Operandi: The magnificent obsession behind your team as a whole.

Can you move in light of both? You must: if your work pushes you forward, your team pushes each other forward, and doing so collectively enables your team’s mission to move forward, you become unstoppable.

96: “The same, but cheaper”

That’s something most people want.

And the common methods of achieving this are going away:

  • Cheaper means less skill: Chunking delegated tasks to those who do one thing on repeat (human or machine) removes those who make it better. Great for being out-innovated, and decreased value creation.
  • Cheaper means less choice: Making what you and the next customer get both identical removes that which makes each special. Great for becoming a marginalized commodity.

“Winning today at the expense of tomorrow” won’t work much longer. Teams need new methods of value creation.

“Out-muscling” is the old game: “Make it cheaper then buy up all the ad slots so the competitors will drown.”

“Out-caring” is the new game: “We picked this out just for you, it’s a collaboration with your favorite designer.”

Great teams care more. Does yours?

95: Clarity is hard

Long reports say the least.
Long proposals are read the least.
Long speeches put people to sleep.

They’re long because each word isn’t carefully chosen.
Short ones are harder to make.
Because clarity is hard.

Sometimes, shorter is much better.

94: Limited time only

“Get this cheatsheet.
It shows you the 3-easy-steps to make an ebook…
That’s written about how to run a good webinar…
Or attend this webinar to discover how to run an effective sales call…
Which gives you an effective sales call designed to sell you a course…
On how to make a great cheatsheet.”

Great things don’t always come in a box, and they aren’t always easy.

The promise of “It’s easy” risks making people confuse “This is challenging” with “I’m not good enough”.

When we accept that most things worth doing aren’t easy, we give ourselves the freedom to succeed in our roles.

93: The third way

There are three sides to every coin.

And when it comes to decision-making on high-performance teams, there are three options available to us, every time.

The third option just takes a little more searching for. Here are some examples:

  • 1. Over-promising: Doing less than promised.
    2. Under-promising: Promising less than able.
    3. Showing promise: Doing more than is comfortable, causing growth.
  • 1. Burn-out: Doing more than able.
    2. Burn-in: Damage caused by doing too little.
    3. Feeling the burn: Doing more than is comfortable, causing growth.

The third option normally requires uncomfortable growth to bring a new, better solution into existence.

High-performing team members: be on the lookout for “the third way.”

92: Kensho or Bust

“I would have succeeded if it weren’t for _____”

Ever heard someone say–or caught yourself saying–this sentence?

Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith of the Agape International Spiritual Center in LA has a new word for us to learn: “Kenshō”.

Let’s compare it to “Failure”:

  • Kenshō: “Growth from temporary setbacks.” Here we experience a trial, problem, or unexpected challenge, that becomes a learning experience that makes us stronger.
  • Failure: “Accepting the setback as ‘the end’.” Here we experience that same trial, problem, or unexpected challenge, but consider it to be a sign that we should give up trying.

Next time you’re hit with a setback, ask yourself: is this an opportunity for Kenshō?

91: How’s my driving?

Ever seen this written on the vehicle in front of you?

I sometimes wonder what it’d take to make me dial the number. Perhaps if I saw them help an elderly person perform a three-point turn (good). Or if they almost caused an accident (bad). Either way, it provides:

  • Opportunity: Great drivers want this. The ability to be recognized for being great at their craft.
  • Accountability: Great drivers want this, too. The ability to have “the road” as their accountability partner.

I only hope these drivers belong to teams that turn those calls into what-based, unselfish feedback, rather than a mere disciplinary system.

Whatever our team does, “the road” can provide invaluable feedback to help us perfect our work. We need only ask.

How’s your driving?

90: Put your name on it

When you were a kid and you drew a picture, what was the last detail you’d add?

Your name. You’d sign it.

You made it. You were proud of it. We sign what we’re proud of.
Consider the upcoming week. What if you could sign…

  • Your next email: You already technically ‘sign’ these. Yet you probably don’t think too hard about “one measly email”. How could your next one be worthy of signing?
  • Your next workday: You’ve done these. But if you could ‘sign a day’, how could you make your next one worthy of signing?
  • Your next project: Be it assigned or self-initiated, how can you make it so special that you’d name it after yourself?

How many last week would you have signed?
Perhaps it’s time to put your name on next week.
And the week after that

89: What makes a gift a gift?

It’s not just “giving someone something”, is it?
That’s a transaction.

And it’s not “paper, bows, and ribbons” either.
Not all gifts are objects for wrapping.

  • A $100 item delivered is a transaction.
  • A $10 item prepared and given feels priceless.

The difference isn’t pricing. It’s whether you “prepared and gave” (making someone feel special) or “delivered” (merely meeting expectations).

Does your team “deliver” great products that “meet expectations”?

Or do you “prepare and give” great experiences that make your audience feel special?

88: Fear, ego, and care

“It’s a very noisy world. And we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.” – Steve Jobs

What do people know about you?

You–and the team you belong to–will communicate one of three things to people:

  • That you’re scared: To stand out, to speak up, to be great.
  • That you’re different: That you march to the beat of your own drum, for better for worse.
  • That you care: That it’s not about your fear, or your need to be seen as a special snowflake, but about them.

Which are you communicating? Honestly?

87: Poles of roles

Most roles have poles.

The north, where our favorite work lies, and the south, where the parts we wish didn’t exist live.

  • Creatives love designing but must also master the data-driven side of their work if what they make is to be effective.
  • Engineers love building things but must master the social side of production if they’re to prevent communication breakdowns.
  • Account managers love talking with clients but must master the software their team uses if they’re to enable anything to get done.
  • Marketers love writing copy but must master the confidence to get on camera and speak to their audience directly.

Without mastering both poles, neither is truly mastered.

What are your role’s poles?

86: Everyone an owner

Are you an owner?

On great teams, everyone has a stake: if things go great, you’re structured to benefit. If things don’t, there’s nothing to benefit from.

On teams like these, we have a choice:

  • Be an owner: Where you Own your role, you Own the vision, and you fight for it come rain or shine.
  • Or be like an ‘employee’: Where you check-in enough to keep the peace and leave the heavy-lifting for someone else.

We get to decide whether or not to be as indispensable as the man/woman who founded the tribe.

If we decide wrong, someone who decided right will most certainly take our place, if the team is indeed to be great.

So: are you an owner?

85: Your contract means nothing

The longer the contract, the less trust you both have.

When a friend offers a ride to the airport for your vacation, you don’t make him sign a contract. Despite–were he to not show–you’d risk missing your flight, and thus your whole vacation. Trust.

When a small team offers to complete a small project, contracts start flying for weeks prior to getting started on anything. No trust.

We don’t need longer, tighter contracts. We need stronger relationships.

84: Sugarbrain

How many hours daily do you dedicate to your meaningful work?

Hold that question for a minute.

Ever get withdrawals if you miss your coffee break, or YouTube interlude, or other such fixes? You might have Sugarbrain. Sugarbrain is when:

  • Concentrating is hard: The next thing on your to-do list requires calm focus, such as writing an important document. So you go on YouTube for a bit instead.
  • Nerves become a habit: You’re expecting an important email to arrive, so you check your inbox twice a minute instead of twice a day, just in case. Just in case.

1.5 hours of Sugarbrain may equal 1 hour of non-Sugarbrain.

So back to our original question: how many hours daily do you dedicate to your meaningful work?

83: More social at (remote) work

What if remote work made us more social?

While it’s easy to consider the perceived social benefits of sharing office space, I’d argue remote work enables 3 distinct advantages for social teams:

  • It’s intentional: There’s no water-cooler or being a wallflower without water-coolers and walls. Instead, you must intentionally strike up a conversation to nurture relationships. Many in offices go years without a 1-on-1 conversation, by comparison.
  • It’s controlled: Group chat, 1-on-1 chat. Synchronous, asynchronous. You get to choose when and how based on how you like to socialize. No mid-flow interruptions about the weather required.
  • Over-communication: Collaboration drops 38% unless everyone over-communicates, leaving nothing to chance. Everyone literally has to communicate more than normal.

Remote team? How could you foster more socialization?

82: Making things happen

“I like things to happen; and if they don’t happen, I like to make them happen.” – Winston Churchill

Making things happen is hard. And also easy.

Hard, if you view it as a one-step binary effort resulting in success or failure. Easy, if you remember your ABCs–or in this case–D-C-B-As:

  • Decide: On what you want to happen.
  • Commit: In your mind’s eye, make it “already done”.
  • Believe: Remove any limiting beliefs that it will be so.
  • Action: Doing whatever it takes to make it so.

The D-C-B-A of making things happen builds upon the premise of Result Lists we talked about earlier in the year.

What would you like to have already made happen, yourself or as part of your team, but haven’t yet? The answer might be as simple as D-C-B-A.

81: Amazing time

Time will amaze us, one way or another.

We’re amazed by how time flies by.
We’re amazed by what we can do in such a short space of time.
Which of these amazements do you have?

Person A has a book idea. So they write it and list it on Amazon. They’re amazed by how much was done, so quickly.

Person B has a book idea. So they ponder it, make notes, and wonder what it could be like to be a published author. They’re amazed about how time flew by since they wrote down their original idea.

Time will amaze us, one way or another.
Which person would you prefer to be?