Recently, I was a guest on “Ideas and Stuff”, a Calgary based podcast (episode 50). One of the questions they provided in advance for me to think about and prepare for was; “If you could go back to the day you started your business/career, what would you tell yourself?”
As it turns out, we had a great conversation during the podcast and never quite got to this question! However, the question did really get me thinking.
If I could back up my career, what do I wish I knew that would make a big difference?
As many of you know, I am an electrical engineer by education and practiced in this field for quite a few years.
As engineers, we are forced to focus on numbers, formulas, Lagrangian multipliers, and other theorems that would give most people nightmares! However, as the Dilbert stereotype so aptly illustrates, we are generally not taught the basic things about effective communication, teamwork, or leadership!
So, what would I tell myself if I could go back to the day I started my career?
Is “excellence” a word that would describe everything you or your business does or produces? If not, you are in danger of becoming a commodity, being stuck in the race to the bottom, and going extinct!
In fact, Tom Peters, in his new book The Excellence Dividend, believes that a mindset of excellence is the antidote to job automation and product “Commodityville”.
Early in my career there was an incident in our office when one of the junior engineers handed a proposal to his manager for a final review before sending the proposal to the customer. The manager basically came unglued and ripped apart the junior engineer after he found a spelling mistake . . . in the client’s name!
I recently attended a keynote from Claire Diaz-Ortiz. Diaz-Ortiz is an author, speaker, founder of the non-profit “Hope Runs”, ex-executive at Twitter, voted one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business” and is known as “The Woman Who Got the Pope on Twitter!”
Besides being articulate, intelligent, and successful in the business world, she has a very compelling personal story that she is able to effectively weave in with the business side of her life.
So, when she defines a system to make you and your business stand out, we should listen!
Her keynote outlined the framework for this system that she uses to help her and her organizations standout in the marketplace.
She calls the system “SHARE.”
Diaz-Ortiz’s framework for how stand out is built around the acronym SHARE. I have briefly summarized the components below.
This week’s book review is Be Amazing or Go Home by Shep Hyken.
Hyken does a stellar job of describing the epitome of customer focus! This book focuses on what “Amazing” looks like to a customer and the personal and corporate habits that each of us need to cultivate to attain the “Amazing” status.
My takeaway from this book is twofold. First, the seven habits of Amazing listed below:
A high performance business is created by building a high performance team. A high performance team is created by studying, building, and expecting excellence from all your staff.
I have had the opportunity to lead quite a few high performance teams over the years. I can say that it is so much easier to spend the time and money to build a high performance team than it is to limp along with “bums in chairs!”
High performance teams can overcome incredible obstacles.