Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Out of the Stone Age...

I decided to purchase YouTube Red ($9.99/mo. no ads, commercials and you can close the screen without shutting it off) recently and came upon YouTube Music. When I look up a song I go there anyway so I downloaded it. I was so excited when I saw how it organizes the music you pick, and how it knows what songs, or artists I've chosen before. There were full albums I could download from all my favorite artists and bands. Amid my joy and happiness I realized something...

I was the last person to find this out.

I walked out of the cave and threw my club in the lake. It was time to come out of the stone age. That was honestly how it felt. Like I was the last person to understand technology. I know I'm not, but I study business. I know what artificial intelligence is. Trust me if you listen to CNBC's Jim Cramer more than five minutes you've heard of Nvidia. What was wrong with me?

I was excited about it and still am. I certainly forgot how nice it is to listen to music when I write. Now I want to check out the other music platforms. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Stop Selling Your Problems...

I know people at work that spend so much time trying to convince other co-workers, and management about all the problems they have doing there job that they don't have time to do it. It doesn't make any sense to operate this way. You are responsible for how you operate in life. Looking in the mirror is the best way to get to the root of the problem. It's you.
You are the one who can fix any problem you have in the workplace. Why? Because you created it. If management is upset with you they have a reason. I've never met a great worker who believes management is out to get them. If it seems that way because you're probably not doing your job. There are bad managers who have agendas, create conflicts, and lie. I understand that.
When you have "leadership" like this you have to find the solution. Looking for the solution or expecting help from a manager like this will never happen. You have to figure it out. Back up your work with photos, emails, or any other proof. I've had these conversations with people and the excuse is usually "I shouldn't have to do all that" and that's true. There are a lot of things in life you shouldn't have to do. Unfortunately that isn't the way it works.
The person that says that, isn't doing the work. That's why they won't do it. If you have problems at work you have to let them see. What will happen is when you work harder the people take notice. I've experienced even the people who were against you before now become your supporters. Hard work fixes problems. It's cliche' but it's true.
When you stop making excuses, and trying to convince everyone about your problems it's amazing what the results will be. You will see a stark contrast to how management treats you. When you understand that your manager isn't paid to be your friend.
They get paid to encourage you to produce. Period. Whatever that encouragement entails.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Rousey goes to WWE...

When I found out about Rhonda Rousey going to WWE I didn't like it. I'm not a fan. However, I watched her segment at the end of the women's royal rumble match, and it certainly raised my intrigue. To Rousey's credit she looked genuinely excited and wasn't there just to cash a check.
Rousey's meteoric UFC rise ended after two brutal knockouts to Holly Holm and Amanda Nunes.
 It would be great for Rousey to remain in WWE. It would be good for the former UFC champ to get her confidence back. Feel good about herself again. With the training she would get I believe she would be a superstar in wrestling.
She isn't going back to UFC at least not anytime soon. Similar to the way Brock did.

Two bad knockouts and the movie roles dry up quick. It's a sad truth, but that's Hollywood. Right now I'm fascinated by her. We'll see. I'm reserving my right to a mulligan because women's wrestling has let me down before.

As for the women's rumble match itself I thought it was good even though everyone knew Asuka was going to win. Oh well. She'll get the belt at Mania. I like any match with her in it. She is proof that you can be must see TV without saying a word. Incredible charisma and ring skill.

The triple threat match with Brock Lesnar, Braun Stroman, and 500 year old Kane was better than expected. Not because of Kane who is gassed after every minute of action. I like the chemistry between Brock and Braun. They will collide at Mania for the belt I hope, I hope, I hope. This is a good way for Brock to ride off into the sunset and put Braun completely over. Then they'll give the belt to Reigns a month later. Sorry, sorry, sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

AJ Styles vs Shinsuke @ Wrestlemania...

Wrestling fans get nervous about the Royal Rumble. It's the third biggest pay per view of the year, and the winner heads to Wrestlemania with a shot at the title. Shinsuke Nakamura and the polarizing Roman Reigns ended up at the end with Shinsuke eliminating Reigns. I'm happy with this finish. Shinsuke vs AJ is a terrific match for the WWE title. They had a classic match several years ago in Japan, so having this match in New Orleans will be great.

If this is a sign of how Wrestlemania will be booked this year then it may be one of the best. I'm still unsure what the other matches are which is good. I'm a fan of the mystery. The less I can put together the more I enjoy it.
I won't get to see the rest of the pay per view tonight live, but I'm very happy I got to see the royal rumble match. I'm picking Shinsuke to win the championship in a classic.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

What's Your Excuse?

I was watching a documentary on ESPN Classic about a basketball team from Morningside High School and how their lives are 25 years later. This team won the state championship the year before, but lost the next. What's interesting is what happened to these superstar players. The first two players they spoke to had excuses about why things didn't work out. The second player blamed everything on all the coaches he had. Nothing was his fault.
That was where I stopped watching. It made me think of times when I made excuses or blamed someone else for mistakes I made. Is that you? Has your life worked out the way you wanted it to? If not, why? Are there any patterns? Do you make excuses anytime something doesn't go your way? Is it always someone else's fault?

Jim Rohn said the day you reach full maturity is the day you take 100% responsibility for your life. That means no excuses. If something goes wrong fix it. Where you are today is because of you. Nobody else. The decisions you make put you exactly where you want to be. You say, "hey not me bucko". I say ya, you, bucko because if you didn't want to be where you are you would've made different decisions.
Once you decide that you will own your life and say that no matter what happens I'm responsible for it. Darren Hardy said, "if it's to be it's up to me." That is a very true axiom. It is up to you. You're the only one who can make your life work. You're the one who opens the doors of opportunity.
That happens when the excuses end and the responsibility begins.

Look at yourself and say, no more excuses. Don't be like the others who blame everyone else for their problems. Take responsibility. Accept what happens. Move forward.

Friday, January 26, 2018

How do you deal with Writers Block?

I am sitting here asking myself the same question. What do I write about? Many times I have something I read about or happened at work that sparks an idea, but today, nothing. I don't have anything. I'm not really sure if there is a cure for writer's block. Is writer's block even real? I've always believed it was an excuse not to write. Trust me there are challenging days like today, but you can come up with something if you just get creative.

Even if the idea doesn't just jump out at you all you need to do is just start hitting the keys and wait for the muse to sprinkle his or her magic on your work.
I don't know how your muse work so please forgive me muses if I insulted you in any way. I know when I used to write about cancer it could be very difficult especially if there wasn't any news, or breakthroughs. Today was more challenging. Two times I had work written down that I deleted and these were two different posts. More like two different poops.
So this is the result of not being able to think of anything today. I just posted about having writer's block. The point is that even if you have nothing to write about you can still just go and have fun with it.
If you're working on fiction and the story you're working on has you stumped try writing something else just for the hell of it. My book is going well but I was a little burnt with it the other day. I wrote a short about a slasher killer. The difference is the short was from his perspective. it's been fun to work on. A nice change from the book.
What was cool is that after I worked on that in the morning it opened my creative door and I wrote a bunch of pages on my book. It looked like it was going to be an unproductive day and turned out great. If you feel blocked on what you're currently working on, but have another idea then write it. At the very least just brainstorm it. Get that bad boy out of your head. A helpful tip.

So much for having writer's block. Thanks Muse.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Key to being a Leader...

The key to being a leader is that you have to be willing to look like a fool in the beginning in order to become a genius at the end. As a leader you have to be willing to take risks that may make people wonder about your sanity. As a leader you need to be willing to have patience before making a rushed decision when other people think you're a fool for not acting. 
Those are just two examples of looking like a fool to others when you operate in a way that may be viewed as unconventional or the ever popular term, outside the box. There are times in your leadership when you will try something new and it doesn't work, or even fails miserably. 

When I became the backroom support manager at my store I decided to put all the pallets of returned merchandise in front of one of our bay doors, so we wouldn't have to stop unloading the truck. We have a conveyor line that has to be separated in order to move these pallets. It was terribly inefficient when you're under a time crunch.
Moving the pallets in front of the other door just made sense. The truck that picked up the returns now could pull in and I would help load the pallets on. Before I did that they would stop unloading the truck to get all these return pallets ready thus adding nearly an hour to our time. 
My other manager for that shift thought I was a fool for doing that. He didn't use the term fool. My word, not his. You get my point. After it worked he acknowledged that it was indeed a good decision. Now I was a genius. Take that Kyle!

If the same decision keeps being made, and it isn't working, then it's obvious something different has to be done. That isn't risky. The real risk is to continue doing the same thing. I don't understand why doing something different many times is considered revolutionary. I think it's because so often we get caught up in the routine of life. 
There is a big difference between routine and process, but they get used the same way. Routine is what you do every day. It is usually mundane and boring. Process on the other hand is exciting. A caterpillar doesn't go through the routine of becoming a butterfly. No, it goes through the process of becoming a butterfly. Metamorphosis is a process, and process means change. It means moving. You don't say we're in the routine of moving forward you say we're in the process of moving forward. 

No matter what someone thinks of your decision you need to own it. Accept the fact it may not work. Then just don't do it again. Develop the habit of trying something new everyday. You're leadership will improve when you're willing to risk becoming a genius.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

How do you Set Goals?

You start with goals that will make you stretch. Don't settle for arcane, vanilla goals like "make more money". I don't know many folks who don't want to make more money, so it's really not a goal. Now if your goal is to be a millionaire by the time you're 40 is more specific. Jim Rohn said to make becoming a millionaire one of your goals for who you'll become in the process.
I agree that you want goals that push you. Some goals should push you harder than you ever expected. However I also think some goals should be easier. You want goals that are small to give you that feeling of success even if they're easy. A little progress forward is still progress.
There is a great deal of benefit to positively reinforcing yourself. When you begin achieving your smaller goals you naturally will begin progressing to achieve the more challenging one's.

Setting the goal is the first step. The second is to have your goals where you can see them. Rohn said to keep the list of goals with you at all times. Sales legend Jeffrey Gitomer goes a different direction. In his classic, The Sales Bible, he writes that once you set a goal write it on a post-it note and put it on your bathroom mirror. Read the goals allowed when you see them. Then when you achieve the goal, put it on your bedroom mirror so you can review your accomplishment before you leave. Read THOSE aloud too.
As much as I love Gitomer, when I first read that I thought it was silly. Then after several years of thinking that I tried it. I wrote my goals and post it's and stuck them to my mirror. Why? First because what I did, nothing, wasn't working very well. Secondly, because I really didn't know what my goals were. I could certainly rattle them off, but now I see them several times a day. They nag at me every time.
It's so simple yet so valuable. Now instead of rattling some off I know exactly what they are.
Here's how it can work. The other day I ripped the note off that said 100 PUSH UPS, and crumpled it into the trash. Actually it landed next to the trash. After sitting down I felt like a failure for setting that goal and giving up before trying. I went back into the bathroom, picked up the note, uncrumpled it, and put it back on the mirror.

Then I did some push ups. That's how it works.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What is Elon Musk's "compensation plan"?

I'm not sure that's what I would call it. I am a fan of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. As I said in my post the other day I believe he will take Tesla to new heights. I believe the electric car will take more market share every year. Many major car manufacturers either have an electric car, a prototype, or are thinking about it. When more competition arrives it will make Tesla a better car company.
Dealbook's Andrew Ross Sorkin wrote a great piece about Musk's new compensation plan. Sorkin writes that Musk only receives, but doesn't cash $37,000 a year which is the minimum allowed under California state law.
Becky Quick debated with Sorkin this morning on Squawk Box sais, and I paraphrase that productivity should be tied into it, and that market cap isn't the best way to determine success. I agree with her. I believe Tesla's biggest issue has been meeting productivity goals. They will do that as technology improves and they obtain more efficiency.
I am so interested to watch what happens with Elon Musk and Tesla. It will be eminently fascinating.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Future of Twitter?

I enjoy using Twitter for news and I'm not alone. Many other professionals do as well. I've spoken to millennials who literally only go on Twitter to see what's going on in the world. When Facebook announced recently they were changing their popular news feed to less world news thus trying to build more social interactions with family and friends I was happy.
I think this is great for Facebook. Whether or not, or rather, how much of this move was publicity remains to be seen, but I think it's a good one. Facebook was cool for me when you saw what was up with people you care about. My frustration began when I literally wondered if I had friends because everything that went through my feed was news, or one of my "liked" pages. I keep Facebook strictly so I can get a hold of my family, friends, and my old Navy shipmates. They're old, I'm not.
Facebook should be for socializing with people because that's what I think it's for. That was the original intention when The Facebook arrived on the Harvard campus.
As far as Twitter goes I love it for them. Twitter is figuring things out. They are a news corporation, and the people who get news from Facebook many may switch to Twitter, or just use it more often. I'm a stockholder in Twitter, and a believer in the product so I hope I'm right. Now that Facebook is changing direction this gives Twitter the chance to step into the void to become a social media staple like Facebook, or Instagram. I don't think Twitter is there yet, but I think they will be.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

On Writing by Stephen King

This is the best book about writing I have ever read. I was a big fan of King's work anyway, so it was natural I would read On Writing A Memoir of the Craft. King helped me immensely with my storytelling and not feeling the need to control every aspect of my story. He also helped me see how characters truly become real in your work. They develop their own personalities many times without your permission. There have been times when I have leaned back after writing a character and think, "Well he's an asshole," I didn't expect that. It was King who said that to me in his memoir and helped me see the beauty in it.
He also talks about not deciding the end and being a control freak. Once again this helped me immensely by coming up with a plot and then letting the characters tell the story. These are just a couple of examples of why this book is great. King also gives the reader some autobiographical content about his life growing with a single mom and brother. Some of the stories had me laughing so hard like the one about poison ivy. I won't ruin it. If you want to write I would get this book. Thank you Stephen!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Work Harder on Yourself....

Jim Rohn said, "Work harder on yourself than you do on your job." I think this quote is poignant and true. I had a friend who worked very hard on her job. She was a terrific worker and one of the best in her position. She had worked for our company 11 years. After the hard work and ups and downs she got the promotion she had always wanted. When she got the position she rocked. This young lady worked days off, extra hours whatever she could do to improve. She worked very hard on her job.....
Four month's after the promotion she had always wanted she was fired for showing up to work intoxicated. The drinking problem that had been obvious for years reared it's ugly head again, and this time there was nothing she could do. This woman had been warned before.
At work a rock star, at home a disaster. She didn't work on herself. What you do outside of the office will always come back to you. I remember when I was in the Navy you heard the stories about guys who were about to retire and then pop positive on a pee test. Goodbye. No retirement package, no thank you, adios. That simple.
If you raise hell outside of work regardless of what it is that will come home to roost. It doesn't mean you can't have fun. Stop that. Just know when to do it. Develop the discipline not to operate in an area that causes great problems in others. The discipline developed outside of work will result in better performance at work.

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Start Up Mindset...

When you are starting a business while continuing to work your regular job is very difficult. I haven't even gotten to the hard parts yet, so we'll just have to see what happens. Today was my first day back to work after an exceedingly long vacation. It was eleven days. I got so much done on it though. I wrote more than I expected I would on this blog, and my book. Had multiple business meetings so as of now everything is moving forward as planned, so it was great.
For me I find it difficult to work as hard on my business when I'm working. I know that's the eternal conundrum for the budding entrepreneur is whether or not to quit their job. In my case it's knowing when to leave, and not hanging myself out to dry.
I've heard Mark Cuban on Shark Tank tell guests all the time not to do anything but their business. Quit the job and go for it. That's easy to say when it's not your job, or your bills to pay. It's also easy to say when you did it like Cuban did.
However I do agree. I learned during this time off that I'm ready to go for it. All honesty though I'm terrified to leave my job. I'd love to sit on the soapbox and say I've got the resignation typed and ready to submit, but I don't. My job is very demanding and requires a lot of hours which isn't beneficial to a successful start up. So I know the answer. Let's see how long it takes to pull the trigger.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Nobody thinks YOU can do it...

That's what you will think when you tell your family and friends about starting a business, writing a book, creating a website, or whatever it is that you want to do. When you tell people about your big idea the reaction will be less than enthusiastic. Some will say it's a good idea, and some will do nothing but poke holes in the idea to the point you second guess.
When you get excited about a project it's difficult not tell people you care about. Don't let yourself get caught up in the reactions of whether or not they like it. Listen to what they say whether it's good or bad and find what you can glean from it. Jim Rohn said if you have an idea tell ten people this way ten people hear it, and you get to hear it ten more times. You can bet the story you tell changes each time.
Always keep in mind who you're talking to when you share ideas. This makes a difference in the response sometimes. In my experience negative people won't support anything you do no matter what it is. You have to keep in mind not all ideas are good and sometimes the point a negative person makes could keep you from losing money, or other things so it's not always bad. You should hear both.
I used to tell people about every idea I came up with. Their opinions would make or break what I did. Sometimes, or rather most of the time the ideas just weren't good enough. Unfortunately I had the reputation of never finishing anything which to be honest was fair. Now I don't tell anyone until I'm ready to do a project. I make my best effort to nitpick the idea as much as I can, and that I've answered the questions the naysayers may have. This way their issues have little or no affect on me.
Here's the thing; you can do it!
For example, just because a person may read a lot of books doesn't mean they know about publishing, whether you can write a book or whether a book idea will even work.
Stay focused on your work. Have the faith that you will make it happen. It really is that simple.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Don't Apologize...

Don't apologize for being motivated, inspired, and pushing your team to be the best. I've had times where I expect my associates to arrive fired up, excited, and ready to kick ass. Then I see them and they're complaining about being tired, a fight with the spouse, or the inability to get the kids to do their homework. The last thing they motivated. That's where you come in. Everyone on your team has a job. I believe that associates on your team should be able to do aspects of the job better than you. In some cases significantly better.
Alabama football coach Bear Bryant was asked about rumors that some coaches on his staff knew more about football than he did, the legends responded, "I hope they do otherwise I don't need em." I agree with that. I want people on my team to be better in certain areas of the job than I am. One reason is they do it more than I do, so their experience should allow them to improve. At least that's the plan.
The job of inspiring your team is yours. It's great on those rare days when everyone on the team is excited and ready to work, but most of the time it's the example above. That's where you come in. The morale of any team always goes back up to the top. It goes up to the associates immediate supervisor, and if they aren't the problem it goes to the next one. Even if morale on a larger scale is poor you can maintain morale on your team's level.
Morale isn't always good. Sometimes the morale is too high bordering on overconfidence which can lead to inefficiency. In those cases you have to bring morale down. A wake up call if you will. They won't like it, but don't apologize for trying to bring out their best. You set the standard on where your team is at, so you are always the one it starts with. Even if your team is overconfident than likely you are in some way. The team's status is always a good indication of where you are at in your leadership at the time.
Remember if you have bad eggs on the team it's your job to move them off your team if they are affecting the whole. Don't blame bad performers on your struggles if you're doing nothing to fix it.
A great book to learn about where you are in your leadership is The Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell. You're at different levels at different times in your leadership and he teaches the importance of understanding that. If your team needs a boost, a kick, a high five, or a hug it starts with you. The leader is the driver of the team. Your team's actions are ALWAYS a direct reflection of you.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Bitcoin Craze...

As a CNBC junkie. I turn on Squawk Box first thing and watch periodically throughout the day when I'm home. One thing they discuss not just on Squawk Box, but on all CNBC platforms is bitcoin. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system to put it in it's simplest form. There are bitcoin mines. A small town in Washington state that has very cheap energy prices is used by bitcoin mining companies. Bitcoin is unregulated, and extremely volatile moving 30-40% either way in a single day.
What I find amusing is when the discussion is on bitcoin the difference in analysts opinion is striking.  The opinions is almost always age based. When the question about bitcoin is asked to someone of the older generation they are generally bearish about it. They think it's a bubble of some kind and will eventually burst. Now when the same question is posed to millennials they're very bullish. Some are invested in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and find all the positive in the space.
I won't act as if I know a lot about bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. What I do know is that criminal elements use these cryptocurrencies for illegal activities which leads me to be reluctant. It seems older investors aren't always fans of disruptors. They stay away from what I consider "change" companies. Legendary investor Warren Buffett doesn't like bitcoin, but he also didn't like amazon or Google.
Me personally I didn't think people would want to watch movies on their computers, so I wasn't a big fan of Netflix, but I loved Facebook and bought it's IPO. I just wanted to be involved. The funny thing about my love for Facebook is that I nearly never go on the platform.
The point is that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies could be game-changers, or they could be bubbles and investors will get clobbered. My gut tells me these current cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, etherium, litecoin etc are the test probes and the cryptocurrencies that last will be come later, be regulated, and issued by governments and foreign exchanges. I'm referring to strong economic countries not what Venezuela did last week. Venezuela issued a cryptocurrency named petro backed by their oil, but that government and country are in such terrible condition how can you trust it? I'd call it corruptocurrency. Just my opinion.. I'm certainly watching close to see what happens with these because this crypto-craze is far from over.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Build on Strengths...

To paraphrase Jack Welch in his book Winning it says before you become a leader it's about you, but after you become a leader it's about others. When you earn a leadership position you now have a team to consider. They will have work issues, personal problems, slow days, good days, and all kinds of other things you didn't account for when you said yes.
These are just common day to day issues that are important, but the most important thing you do as a leader is invest in your team. Your goal is to put your team in positions to succeed. No one on your team is the same, so it's your job to put them in the proper position where they will succeed.
 Analyze where they are successful, and do your best to put them in those areas. If an associate enjoys where they are working they will take ownership of it, and do their very best. As a leader you need to listen, and look for signals of what they like, and are productive at.
Some leaders say they don't care what their associates like. I don't either if they aren't productive. I promise you if that leader spent the time finding a position of strength for the associate they wouldn't spend any time fighting them to do work they hate. I don't know anyone who does well at work they hate. If an associate likes what they do the work will be done well.
If your associate succeeds then the team succeeds. If your team succeeds then you succeed. Why wouldn't you want to put an associate in a position of strength?
Evaluate your team. See who is where they should be, and who isn't. Who are the strong and weak performers? Really dig in and figure out what changes can be made to improve the people that struggle or if they need to move on. That is always an option. There isn't always a place for somebody and you have to be willing to accept that. Sometimes helping someone is having them find a different place to work, so they have a chance to find a job they enjoy.
Make sure you put your team first. That starts at the core with each associate, and making sure you're putting them in the best place to succeed.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Taking the First Step...

I would love to say I did it. I'm writing this with the television on, so that says it all. However, I was in a creative zone the last four days. Even yesterday. I didn't have the tube on all day, but it was no distraction. I still need to cut it back especially when I know I'm vegging out on it, but it wasn't the case yesterday. A lot of good work has gotten done during this vacation. I'm very pleased with where I am with the book, and even this blog. I know that nobody is reading yet, but having the discipline to post everyday has kept my creative muscles working. You have to discipline yourself to write even when you don't feel like it. It may not be as much or as good as you would do on those "in the zone" days, but that can be fixed in rewrite. Sometimes the days when you don't expect good work to happen it ends up being your best. As Lao Tzu would say, take the first step.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

My Weekend Experiment...

I'm turning off the television this weekend. I love to tell people I don't watch it, so I'm shutting it off until Tuesday morning. I'm curious to see how much I actually do watch. I have it on a lot for noise, but I know I get stuck watching it. Seventy-two hours with no television isn't some grand experiment, but turning it off that long for me is. I certainly want to get more work done on Xeetho, Honor Battle, this blog, and as always I want to read. This weekend I will post about what I've done to spend my time and how difficult or easy it was to keep the boob tube off.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Lead with Candor - Good Job!

Have you ever had a conversation with the leader of your team and they're criticizing work you performed. Of course you have if you've worked more than one day in your life. Then when you have an issue about it they say, "I'm just being honest." This is absolutely true. They are just being honest. The problem is that when good work is performed, or even excellent, game changing type work the same leader who was just being honest responds with a "thank you", or "o.k."
After I was promoted at my store I was in a bit of limbo. I was waiting for one of the other managers to move, so each day I had to find someone to help do projects. We were a few weeks from black friday, so I went to the co-manager Andy who was in charge and asked him if he wanted me to help him organize the merchandise on the garden patio as it came in. He did and was rather happy I volunteered. In fact he made a point of telling the store manager in front of me that it was my idea.
 People at the store were shocked I volunteered because Andy can be very difficult sometimes, but he's very good at his job. Andy is very organized, so he knew exactly how he wanted everything laid out. My job was to keep track of new freight, and organize it outside by the aisle or area in the store it was going.
I was able to recruit my buddy Clark to help me, and he did a GREAT JOB! We came in on days off. We worked late just so we could keep track of everything and keep it organized on the patio. It was quite stressful and hectic. On the day we needed to finish Andy expressed displeasure and felt we would be farther along. I explained he had nothing to worry about, but he was rather annoyed. Then Clark so eloquently opined, "Andy, we got this. Don't worry." Andy left with a word. As WE expected we got it done right and on time. When Andy saw it he looked around and said, "thank you guys have a good night." That was it. All the hard work and hours and that was our appreciation. I didn't expect a parade, but being told I did a good job would have been nice. Don't get me wrong I was still very pleased with the work we did, and I know Andy was but it's nice to hear.
Keep that in mind as a leader. If you're willing to criticize then you need to be willing to praise. If your associate does work they're supposed to do then praise isn't necessarily warranted. That's a judgement call, but going above and beyond warrants it. Nothing elaborate. Just say good job. Of course you can throw in a fist bump or high five. Why not. The funny thing is saying that to your associates makes you feel good too. You'll be surprised at what two simple words do for you, your associate, and your team's morale.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

How do you Improve Customer Service?

The best way to improve customer service is to invest in your own team. When you take care of your team financially, and professionally they will take care of the customer. If you pay your associates a reasonable wage for the business and for them, and train them to be the best person they can be, they will pass that on to the customer.
A team that knows their leaders support them will be loyal and productive. When they are happy the customer service naturally improves. They're proud of where they work and in many ways want to show off. This is done at the store environment or over the phone. Associates want to feel important. They want to know you care about them as people, and if your team doesn't feel taken care of or appreciated it will roll downhill.
We all know the phrase about what rolls downhill. I have been involved in team meetings where the discussion is about how we need to improve customer service and then they read all the bad things the customers say, and then the team gets sent out to take care of the customer. Here's the problem. They're angry at the customer.
What rolls downhill doesn't stop with the hourly associates. It stops with the customer because the team passes their frustration down to the customer which becomes bad customer service. I believe if you have bad customer service it begins with management. Don't get me wrong there are customers that will complain no matter how much you try to help them. However, if your team is happy it will reflect in how they represent the company which will determine how they take care of the customer.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Leading with Candor...

I received a new person on my team who had previously worked on the overnight crew. In fact he worked for the company longer than I did. Anyway, he moved my team during the day and he was doing real well. So I told him that. I simply said, "Hey Matt you're doing a real good job. Thanks for your hard work." Real simple right. He looked at me like I told him his mother was ugly. The look of surprise from him struck me, so I asked him. Matt told me he had never been told he did a good job before.
This has been said by many people on my team. They appreciate being told they did a good job. In fact they will come and get me when they finish a project to tell them they did good. The productivity goes up. My team also knows when they aren't performing the way I expect I will tell them. Any team I have managed they will always know where they stand. Nobody on your team should walk on egg shells for any reason, and you shouldn't spend your day angry at someone running the risk of it affecting other associates.
A simple correction doesn't require a visit to the office every time. It only requires a little privacy. Remember, punish in private, praise in public. Then once it's done it's done. Don't carry it around.
 As a leader if you are going to be effusive with criticism then you need to also be effusive with praise. I have never, and will never, be a fan of leadership that only tells you when you did bad. For those of you that lead that way I assure you that saying "thank you" when an associate finishes a project doesn't feel the same as saying "good job."
The same leader that complains about never being told they did well is the same one who passes the same negativity to their subordinates. Make sure when your associate or your team does a good job that you tell them. You will earn the respect of your team and it will improve your day too.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Tesla's Future

I was watching two analysts on CNBC discussing whether or not to buy stock in electronic car company Tesla's stock. One said the company was a buy and the other side said it was a sell. The analyst who indicated she would sell made the point about Tesla's recent production issues. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been very candid about being in production hell, and they missed their production goal again. The analyst referenced this and said she would stay far way.
Now I certainly understand her reasoning with the issues Tesla is having with production, but do you really think Tesla and Elon Musk won't figure this out? Of course he will because the great one's always do. Remember Musk has launched rockets and challenges Boeing to see who will get to Mars first. That's big talk.
My belief is that Musk sets high production goals with no real certainty that they will reach them, but that's not bad. Setting high goals makes you push harder and stretch yourself. This is part of what Musk does that I admire. He makes what seems to be outlandish statements but he does it to challenge himself and his team to reach their best. Musk is willing to look like a fool in the beginning to become a genius at the end.
One major thing Tesla has as well are the true believers. These are the people who believe in what Tesla is doing and will be willing to wait years. To a lesser degree we've seen this happen with Apple. They have their believers too who order new iPhone's months in advance or are willing to wait a couple months for theirs because they get a new iPhone every time. Remember the MAC wasn't a huge hit when it first was launched, but Jobs and Apple had true believers. When you have customers that not only want your product, but also believe in your message they will never leave you.
Tesla is going in that direction. They will get the production issues figured out over the next several years and challenge the big automakers to shift more towards electric cars and Tesla will become one of the great disruptors in business history. If they aren't already.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Championship Game Pick...

I have racked my brain all week about this game. I really believe that Georgia has a great chance to win. Their running game is tremendous, but a lot of people don't believe in Jake Fromm. This freshman made every play he had to and never got rattled even when he missed throws early in the Rose Bowl. I think he can throw the ball enough even though Alabama's defense is significantly better than Oklahoma's. As long as he doesn't turn it over he'll be fine.
I'm not going to make the same arguments for Georgia I already made this week. Alabama has great talent and great players. They're banged up on defense, but what they have healthy is better than most. The Tide defense looked possessed against Clemson. There was also extra motivation for that game after losing to the Tigers last season. Although SEC teams never need motivation to beat each other it's not the same this time.
 The difference for me is Alabama coach Nick Saban. Saban's the greatest coach in college football history for me win or lose. I admire him a great deal not just as a great leader, but even as a flawed individual. Remember his time with the Dolphins? Anyway I think Saban will push the right buttons when he has to and get his 6th national title and cement his legacy. I'll take Alabama 24-20.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Man in the High Castle...

I've always been a fan of the "what would've happened if?" scenarios. That being said the Amazon Prime show Man in the High Castle based on the book by Philip K. Dick takes it to a whole new level. I didn't realize how much so until I watched it last night. Full disclosure, my laptop is old. It doesn't play videos or stream the way a newer one would, so I couldn't watch season 2 for a month or so. Last night I decided to check and for some unknown reason it worked again, so I watched the first three episodes of season 2.
Rufus Sewell as Obergrupenfuhrer John Smith is sensational. He is despicable and rotten, but would do anything for his family. His wife Helen loves him unconditionally and so do his three children. It's such an interesting contrast creatively because you see him as this terrible Nazi killer, but then being this loving father and husband. Well done to the writers.
I do not watch any scripted shows, tv, or stream. However when I read the concept for this show I was intrigued. It was the what if scenario you dream about seeing. Maybe dream about is a little much, but you get my drift. Anyway, Season 1 was great. Then the computer decided to stop playing Amazon Prime very well. In the meantime I watched a show on American Heroes Channel about the Nazi post war plan, and how Hitler made plans for Berlin in what was to be called Germania.When I watched Man in the High Castle last night they had those same plans in the show. I just didn't know it when I saw the first time.
The show had the 400,000 seat dome that was supposed to be in the middle of Berlin. There are also other structures that have been mentioned as well. I'm very impressed with the detail they've gone to. The show is frightening in so many ways to think what my life would be like if the Nazi's had won.
We're fortunate to have had leaders like Churchill, FDR, Truman, Montgomery, Patton, and MacArthur as well as others to avoid that. If you haven't seen this show I highly recommend it. Now I have to buy the book!

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Start Up in your Mind...

When I decided to start my own business I was excited, nervous, scared, and a bunch of other emotions. I would tell myself over and over it was ok to be scared, and nervous. It is OK to feel those emotions. Starting a new business is very stressful as well as very exhilarating. Many different thoughts pop in, but so do different opinions. Since my game has a story I'm writing I bounce ideas off of people and sometimes they're picked apart which can be a blow to the ego.
Considering this it was important that I keep a confident frame of mind. Some people believe confidence is bad. They confuse it with arrogance. I almost always believe I am the best choice all things being equal. I think anyone should feel that way.
However, I realized I was putting way too many negative thoughts into my mind and that led to alot more anxiety than was necessary. My self-esteem was a bit damaged. So what I've done is use more positive, if not pro-active thoughts. I just think how excited and motivated I am. That I will start my business. I also tell myself I'm ready, and that I've waited my entire life for it. This has helped me stay positive which has kept me focused on the task.
Little shifts in thought over time can make a big difference.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Why is Follow Up so important?

It's easy to get caught up in the daily work. It's also easy not to follow up with an associate on a task given to them to complete. Unfortunately when you don't follow up you find out the hard way they either don't do it right, or they don't do it at all.
Two new managers I spoke to recently had the same experience. One was surprised his associate failed to clean a restroom she said she cleaned. He assumed since she was an adult and older than him that he didn't need to follow up.....Another didn't realize his associates leave the backroom a mess with carts of freight and junk on them. He assumed they did it like he did when he was in their position. I told both of them the same thing. You both did a good job which is why you got promoted, and regardless of their age always follow up on the direction you give.
You have to treat people as if they don't know. Don't treat them like idiots, but don't assume they understand what you need done either. My first ASM told me when I failed to follow up with my best associate who performed a task wrong to always, "inspect what you expect." I always remember that, but even though I have still made that mistake since and probably will again.

Here's a few quick tips:

1. Make sure you give clear direction on the task that needs to be completed. Ask if they have any questions. Sometimes having them repeat the direction back helps.
2. Check back early to make sure they started correctly. You can avoid inefficient work if you correct the error immediately before they're too far into it.
3. Regular follow up to make sure the task is done right and on time. You can judge whether or not further follow up is required. Just make sure you can speak to it if you're asked.
4. Say Thank you, good job. Never forget those two. Ever.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Starting My Own Business...

As I evaluate 2017 I'm pleased with how it turned out. The way it ended though will play a very important role in how 2018 goes. In November of 2017 I was promoted at my company. You are selected by your manager for the position and then you go through a panel interview. It's a huge promotion that only half of the 14 people who interviewed got, and I was one of them.

 Then I turned it down....

After they announced on a conference call that I had promoted I was very happy. Then when I hung up the phone it hit me. I was not going to be able to start my own company or anything like that. As a salaried manager at my company you live there. If you're needed to come in you do. I don't want that, but more importantly I want to be my own boss.
Ever since I can remember I've wanted to own a business. When other kids wanted to play on the team I wanted to own it. I've had many ideas and I came very close when I started Fight CLL. I started Fight CLL as a non-profit for my wife Wendy who had leukemia. A few years later Wendy and I divorced so Fight CLL never materialized.
In many ways losing Fight CLL was one more thing that the divorce took from me. I wanted to help Wendy so bad when she was diagnosed that I started the site. It ended up taking off and it became more than about Wendy, or so I thought because when we split I was finished with it. It didn't change how much work went in it, but the reason for doing Fight CLL was gone.
Now I go into 2018 starting a brand new business. As time goes on I will reveal more about it and what's happening. It's important to me to use this blog to help others gain the confidence to go for their dream and show the steps, trials, and tribulations that come with it. This journey is very exciting and I'm ready for it, and I look forward to sharing my experience here.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Georgia vs Alabama...Can't Wait!

To quote the mind of Lloyd from Dumb and Dumber, "So you're saying there's a chance?" Yep. That's exactly what I'm saying. In fact I'm saying that Georgia has a big chance to beat Alabama this Monday in the National Championship game. It didn't take long for pundits to ask whether or not Georgia could win against the college football leviathan. Alabama shut down the Clemson rushing attack by dominating the line of scrimmage, and the Tigers were also unable to throw the football which led to Alabama's dominance.

There are some major difference's between Clemson and Georgia which leads me to believe this will be a different game for Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide., but that's just one of the differences between the Tigers and the Dawgs.

One difference is that Georgia's running game is the best in the country. They have TWO #1 running backs, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel who are capable of going to the house every time they touch the ball. Chubb scored the tying touchdown, and Michel the game winner against Oklahoma. That's not the really scary part. Freshman D' Andre Swift is also capable of the big run and is the fastest of the three. Swift averaged over 8 yards a carry, but was a non-factor in the Rose Bowl. There is a lot more to worry about with Georgia.
Another is Jake Fromm at quarterback. I'm a Kelly Bryant fan, but Clemson is going nowhere if he can't throw them back into a game. Fromm was steady and made big throws when he had to against the Sooners. His poise and presence helped keep Georgia from getting rattled when down 17 in the first half.

Georgia's defense is better than Clemson's. As David Pollack would say, Roquan Smith is a grown man. He made so many big tackles in the second half it made you wonder if he was the only player on the field. It was truly dominating, and he can definitely have the same impact against the Tide. Let's not forget that Alabama's offense wasn't cruising up and down the field against Clemson. Two Clemson turnovers changed the game.

Georgia has a better offense than Alabama, so I think whichever team makes the big plays on defense will win the game. The turnover battle will be critical because possessions will be very important. I'm not saying Georgia will win the game, but I'm saying there's a chance. A good one, although the Saban factor is very real. I have a difficult time picking against him.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Do it Because You Think it's Cool...

“Do it because you think it’s cool”, my friend Jerry said as I pondered the legitimacy of my maturity while playing a wrestling card game. This game was great. It’s called Champions of the Galaxy. It’s a pro wrestling card game geared towards science fiction, and the idea is to create your own wrestling promotion. I fell in love with it however, I felt stupid playing it. You see I’ve been the person who judged unfairly people who played video games, or card games like this, so I was a total hypocrite. Over the years since my divorce I grew more open to the value of these games.
Working in retail I’ve met a lot of people who play a variety of games. As I got to know and respect these folks it made me realize that not everyone who played them was a total loser. That was really how I felt and I feel a level of guilt about it.
What I enjoy the most is the creativity that goes into this game. I love pro wrestling and when I was a young kid I had wresting action figures and I created my own promotion with them. Unfortunately in the eighties things were a little different. My Mom’s friend’s and our family asked why a teen ager was playing with toys. I thought something was wrong with me. I stopped playing and it was something that bothered me into adulthood. Fast forward I bought COTG and fell in love. I was going to have my own promotion again.
With the negative voices of the past in my head I fought with the idea of a 43 year old man playing this game. When my friend Jerry said do it because you think it’s cool made me realize I had to stop worrying what others thought. I get so much value from the game for so many reasons which I will share on my blog. If something you enjoy doesn’t hurt you or others then have fun with it. Use it to make you a better person, and to impact the lives of others.

Who do you become when you do it? If you’re honest with yourself then the answer is easy. My message is to do what you love, take risks, and believe that you are the best person to do what you want to do. It’s good to be confident.