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Aaron Chang Photography

Brent Frei, the co-founder of Smartsheet.com, a project and software management company, looks for people who are “mentally athletic and agile.” He prefers attitude and aptitude over experience. I like his perspective, a lot!

As a Sports Psychologist and Life Coach I constantly help people improve their mental game and develop a great attitude toward life and everything in it. This is not easy. Sometimes, as we all know, life has a way of knocking us down. That’s why good decision making and perseverance are so important. The more we learn from our mistakes, get tougher mentality, and learn to take consistent action toward our dreams and goals the greater the chance we will eventually succeed!

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Invest in others

Robert Reid, the C.E.O of Intacct, a cloud-based software company, believes that most issues with execution come down to training and process. He states, “If somebody is not doing what you expect or you have a different viewpoint, you need to seek to understand what’s going on and help them.”

It’s refreshing to see a business owner who values both people and process. I often say I love to invest in others. I will spend money on someone I like who is good at what they do just to support them in being great. Valuing others is a great way to live.

I also love to help others focus on process. As I often say, “if you want success focus on process, if you stress focus on outcome.” We live in a culture obsessed with outcomes when it’s often the journey (process) that brings us happiness!

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Amazing personality traits

Sally Smith, the C.E.O of Buffalo Wild Wings, has overseen the growth of the business from 60 to over a 1,000 restaurants. She is slow to hire looking for the right fit both culturally and personality-wise. She prefers people who are curious and willing to do whatever it takes. So do I!

Curiosity is an amazing personality trait. In graduate school many years ago I was set up with a young woman still in college. At the time, I thought she was too young for me. When I met her I realized that her curiosity was so natural and amazing that her age seemed less relevant. We dated for several years and almost got married. Today, over twenty years later, we are still friends. In fact, I will see her this Christmas in San Diego. When we catch up every so often, she peppers me with questions in a good way, a naturally curious way!

Going the extra mile is another great personality trait. If you run a business, do you want someone who does just enough or someone who will get the job done no matter what? Like curiosity, going the extra mile is a trait that can be cultivated over time with practice. I love to teach kids to practice getting it right, not to be perfect, but to learn to go the distance. It’s a great way to live!

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Learn how to value people

Adam Bryant interviews Kate Cole, the president of Cinnabon, in this week’s Corner Office! Her perspective is worth knowing. For instance, when business is going well she tends to ask more questions to be certain of the why and to be prepared for the downside. She likes to encourage feedback and communication and even disagreement though in respectful ways. Ms. Cole also encourages coach-ability, curiosity, and commitment to others. I like her perspective because she seems to genuinely care about others, is intelligent and very interpersonally oriented values I teach and value myself.

There are many ways I can express what I do for living as a sports psychologist and business and life coach. One playful way is to say that I teach self and other. We live in a society that does a fair amount of self. In other words, lots of people are self-absorbed. I liked Ms. Cole’s perspective because she clearly values other. If you want to be truly happy you must know how to love and value people! The ability to feel, create, and express love is essential for happiness and makes for greater success as an athlete, businessman, or parent. To cultivate love, show a genuine interest in other and learn to be generous with your body, mind and spirit!

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The importance of communication

Gina Centrello has a great attitude! It’s obvious from her interview with Adam Bryant, the New York Times Corner Office guy. Ms. Centrello stresses over and over the value of hard work, curiosity, and teamwork. She believes that the success of the organization hinges on the harmonious interaction of its key members and strives to create an atmosphere that fosters teamwork!

As a sports psychologist and life and business coach I foster teamwork for a living. I do this by teaching others the value of and know how of graceful communication and the importance of communication in general. Yesterday, I worked with a high school pitcher on communication issues with both his coach and girlfriend. The better we communicate the less drama and distraction we have and the more synergy we create and experience! My argument to this 18 year-old is to practice as often as possible for the more we address problems and potential conflicts in a straight-up and real manner the more we find our lives working and the easier it becomes! The time is now. Trust your intuition and learn to communicate straight-up. It is simply the best way to live!

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Lessons on Good Management

Adam Bryant interviews S.D. Shibulal, the C.E.O of Infosys, the technology consulting firm in this week’s Corner Office. Mr. Shibulal learned early in his career to tell the truth and acknowledge when he doesn’t know something after being caught in a lie in front of a group of underlings. I too am a huge believer in authenticity and veracity as a way of creating trust and building solid long-term relationships. Telling lies, half-truths or hedging and fudging is a short cut leading to mediocrity at best and mistrust more commonly. Whenever possible tell the truth and acknowledge your mistakes. If Bill Clinton had done so our country would have been far better off. There are countless other examples of politicians and business leaders lying or fudging the truth and often we see right through it losing respect for them in the process.

Mr. Shibulal also addresses the issue of being open to honest feedback and the importance of doing one thing at a time. From a 360 review, he learned how disrespectful it was to take phone calls during meetings. Now, he leaves his cell phone with his secretary before a business meeting. This is also a good practice with children and romantic partners. Too often in life we are distracted by our phones and not fully present or present at all for that matter. He states, “I’m better off focusing for 30 minutes on what I’m doing, rather than trying to do multiple things.” Well said!

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The value of Communication

Adam Bryant interviews Jeff Lawson, the C.E.O of Twilio, a cloud communications company based in San Francisco in this week’s Corner Office section of the Sunday New York Times business section. An entrepreneur since age 12 when he started a video production business, Mr. Lawson discusses the value of communication and resolving conflict something his crew rarely did in his next enterprise, a dot.com company.

As both a psychologist and business coach , I teach communication at a very high level. My argument to business people is that whatever you learn and practice in your business life can be applied to your personal life and vice versa. Becoming proactive and engaged and learning to address issues head on instead of avoid them is absolutely important in every area of your life and will eventually help you become a much better parent too!

Communication skills, much like many other things in life, improve with patience, practice, and perseverance. If you want to become a better communicator, practice bringing things up. Over time, you will become more discerning and tactful. Remember: the more you practice, the better you get!

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 The Corner Office page in the Sunday Times business section

This time Francisco D’Souza, the CEO if Cognizant, a large IT company, was interviewed by Adam Bryant. Two aspects of this article stand out for me: that before he became CEO, Mr. D’Souza hired a business coach and got feedback from 20 of his peers, underlings and those above him. He learned that his feedback was too intense and critical at times. This was important to his success as a leader. Hiring a coach, especially the right coach, can be life altering! Also, his intention to hire based on passion and talent, both being necessary, especially in a business where new learning is so important and essential!

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Dr. Brett - Life Coach - Finding a Consistent Means of Inspiration

I have a client who has experienced a bruising decade long battle with his wife due to her anger, alcoholism and blame. Despite my client’s many efforts to get her help and get control over their financial situation, she refused. Eventually they got divorced but not before his finances were decimated, his health impaired, and his family torn apart.  Nevertheless, I still asked him what he could do that would inspire him? Given his state of affairs and the anger he felt both towards himself and his wife, this was no easy question. And yet, he looked at me intently and said, “my writing, I could get back to writing.”

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In the world of insurance and financial planning the basic game-plan to build a successful business is to meet at least ten new prospective clients each week by scheduling at least fifteen appointments every week. The idea is that two of these meetings will turn into sales and another three may continue to be prospects. Notice that on average only two out of ten actual appointments become sales. In order to schedule all those meetings, it may take hundreds of phone calls and emails as well. In other words, there is a lot of potential and actual rejection involved.

Over the years I’ve coached quite a few people in professions where networking and prospecting is fundamental to success. Salespeople, marketers, network marketers, small business and medical practice owners all come to mind.  One theme that consistently emerges is fear of success, which often manifests as avoidance. Not surprisingly, this theme tends to reoccur as people reach different levels of success.

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