Roger Ferguson, C.E.O of TIAA-CREF, the retirement services provider, is a huge believer in personal responsibility. So am I! The first thing I do with a new client or business is to make sure they own everything in their lives regardless of how difficult that might be. Our parents and early environment may shape who we were but what we become rests upon taking ownership of who we are, our strengths, weaknesses and all the rest. Determining to change what we don’t like and develop ourselves by constantly learning and growing is how will become what we want.
Mr. Ferguson went to Harvard and scrubbed toilets for other students as part of his student aid package. He wasn’t the least bit resentful but did the job better than anyone else. Fortunately for him his father helped instill such values as hard work and doing things well. There is little substitute for a great attitude. With passion, creativity and common sense, so much more is possible!
This morning I played 18 holes at Palos Verdes Country Club in beautiful Southern California! Lately I’ve been playing golf 1X per week but managed to shoot 72, a fantastic round especially since I’ve had little time for actual practice. The key to my success today and on many other low scoring rounds is the mental game! I spend a great deal of time off the course eliminating the dramas and distractions that are such a normal part of living for most of us. This allows for greater focus on the course and greater potential in general. I also spend a fair amount of time meditating. Meditation is a process of learning how to better focus the mind and to train it to be more still, a wonderful aid in business, life, and sports!!
The new leader of the M.B.A players union, Michele Roberts, is impressive to say the least. In an organization dominated by men, she beat out 300 hundred others to earn the honor and job of replacing a man who mismanaged funds and failed to deliver in recent years. With an economically impoverished background and an experience as one of the few African American woman to earn a private school scholarship to the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, she worked as a public defender at San Quentin after graduating law school in 1980. Later, she became a successful criminal defense attorney before joining a large prestigious corporate law firm.
Without knowing much about her personally, professionally Ms. Roberts is clearly not someone to underestimate. As she stated in her interview in the New York Times Sports Sunday section: “My past is littered with the bones of men who were foolish enough to think I was someone they could sleep on.” Wow!
I’m a huge fan of people who work hard, refuse to roll over, and earn success. Too many of us are willing to give up or let up when we need to persevere. One of the challenges of life is to know when to hold ‘em, when to fold ‘em, and when to walk away. Becoming super diligent and thorough often gives us more information upon which to make these decisions. I have no doubt this is the way Ms. Roberts has lived her work life. As the first woman to represent the M.B.A players it should be interesting for us to follow and likely great for the players. Good luck Ms. Roberts!
Kim Bowers, C.E.O. of CST Brands, a gas-station and convenience-store retailer, doesn’t trust managers who manage up really well but not down. In other words, it’s fundamentally important that your team will go to bat for you what she refers to as “walking over hot coals for you.” Creating that loyalty and bonding with your people is an indispensable leadership skill!
Ms. Bowers’ perspective on career management is very interesting as well. She says, “Throw it out the window. It’s not going to happen that way. If you work really hard, opportunities will come along, and success will follow.” I agree that working hard is important, staying open, and looking for ways to expand your skill sets and abilities is fantastic. However, some people might want to cultivate mentoring and guidance because they don’t always see the opportunities when they come or have the courage to take the risk. Also, I find that a fair amount of younger people today aren’t patient enough to work hard and pay their dues. On the other hand, when I guide someone who finds them-self in an environment where hard work leads to frustration, change might be necessary sooner no matter what it looks like from the outside.
I teach fluidity which means cultivating awareness of the circumstances and creating the courage to take action to change unhappy situations. Fluid people are less attached in general to certain outcomes which is another way of saying what Ms. bowers is suggesting that ultimately you can’t really control your career. But what you can do is work hard, stay open, and seize opportunities as they come!
Tom Erickson, C.E.O of Acquia, an open-source softwear company, addresses the value of accepting failure on an emotional level in this Corner Office interview. He states, “I’m looking for people who are going to jump in and own their own work, who are going to risk something and risk failing.”
I love it!! When people ask me what I do for a living I have many different responses depending on my mood and the person asking the question. The traditional response is that I have a doctorate in psychology and do a hybrid of business coaching, life coaching, and sports psychology. I do all that but what I really do is help people face their fears, embrace change, become more fluid, flexible and creative and ultimately live with more courage! This is what Mr. Erickson is taking about too. How does one do that, you might ask? By practicing living and expressing your truth each and every day until it becomes the core of who you are! Only you know what your truth is and what you are avoiding. Coaching and guidance is helpful but at the end of the day, you must take action and practice living with courage!!
Don Knauss, the C.E.O. Of the Clorox Company is a former Marine and athlete who makes tons of sense. He believes in motivating others by creating trust through exercising power cautiously and caring about his people to such an extent that they are primary – what he refers to as the heart piece. Like myself, he agrees that intelligence is important too but without heart over time it’s hard to retain great people. He too looks for passion over pedigree and believes in the necessity of becoming an excellent communicator. I really enjoyed his perspective because it reminded me of so much that I offer and teach others; especially the importance of hammering away at the fundamentals: my core teaching is to avoid nothing, be as present as possible, have bang-up integrity, honor yourself, and learn to develop and trust your intuition!
Thank you Mr. Bryant for your outstanding interviews and Mr. Knauss for sharing your perspective!
Maureen Dowd, The New York Times columnist tells the story of a couple opening an inn catering to higher end tourists who want freedom without jeopardy. It’s an interesting twist on what’s happening throughout the state as business moves into a new and ever expanding industry. Conservative, liberal or in-between this change is here to stay. My sense is that the Marijuana is in its infancy and will become much like alcohol – regulated, taxed and ubiquitous.
A lot of people resist change. Some people embrace it. The couple in this article are at the forefront of change in Colorado. My question to you is what are you resisting and what change can you embrace today that would make a real difference in your life? Those are some of the thoughts I had when I read Ms. Dowd’s article!
Diana Nyad succeeded in her 5th try to make the 110 mile swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West. Amazingly it took her nearly 53 hours – that’s over two days and she is 64 years old. Her advice: never, ever give up! I agree: my advice on success in life and business: never, ever give up! Sometimes, we need some outside coaching and guidance to get perspective but giving up is never an option for those of us who truly want to live!!
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.