Time to Quit Feasting on Pork Rinds

porkrindPlenty of people are lamenting the new generation of workers from the Millennial group. You know what they say: “Entitled.” “Want to be promoted now.” “Everyone gets a trophy.” Some go as far as predicting an irreversible negative effect on business and industry as a whole.

I don’t believe any of this for a second. As a young man of 20, I exhibited all those same Millennial behaviors while in the Navy back in 1984, me and all of my peers. We turned out OK. The Navy is still afloat. It’s just a bunch of hype.

If you ask me, the REAL threat to business and productivity is the consumption of informational pork rinds. I know you’ve seen them. Infographics with a picture of clouds and a quote from people like Jack Welch or Steve Jobs. A pellet of wisdom that gets liked and shared. Your daily taste of informational pork rinds.

I love pork rinds. I fry them up whenever I smoke a bunch of pork shoulders. I even like the ones you buy at the gas station. The ones that taste like salty, smoky packing peanuts.

They’re not good for you though. You could subsist on them if you had to, but I’m sure it would do long term damage to your liver and kidneys.

Ten days ago I ran a little experiment. Using an app named ShareAsImage, I came up with a bunch of random statements and posted them on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Some samples are below:

It took exactly 10 days for someone to finally throw the Bull**** flag. I was hoping I’d see it thrown on the first one, but yet most were ignored and sadly, a few were liked. I only hope nobody retweeted or forwarded them. The author was Ben Dover (say that name slowly…get it?) and I was the ghost writer. I was selling filet mignon, but really it was just a handful of pork rinds.

If you fell for it, please don’t hate me. It’s a wakeup call for all of us. We owe it to our personal and professional development to read and research healthy. To quit falling for fads (Mindfulness: Taking time to NOT think and be in the moment….REALLY?????) To stop forwarding pork rinds to your network (Managers light a fire under people, Leaders light a fire IN people with the obligatory happy and sad faces) and to fill your mind with solid substance. Classic books on management like The Fifth Discipline. Practical seminars like the Supervisory Skills Boot Camp (wait…that’s MY seminar!) and a strong network of true experts with proven results.

If you want to be the best in your field and a credible resource for others, take the time to improve your mental diet. More steak. Fewer pork rinds.

How to Sell the Middle Seat

A few weeks ago, while flying home from I-can’t-remember-where, I was brainstorming a bunch of blog topics. I was in a marketing mindset and so I thought about what would be the most difficult thing on the planet to sell. Then, as my neighbor bumped me while trying to reach his over-sized backpack under the seat in front of him, it dawned on me.

The hardest thing to sell to someone is the dreaded middle seat!

You read about hiring managers asking candidates to give them a sales pitch on obscure items like paperclips and pencils. A real challenge would be upselling a customer on the middle seat.

Why the middle seat?

It sucks.

  • You have to fight for control of the armrest.
  • You get neither the elbow room of the aisle seat nor the bulkhead to rest against of the window seat.
  • Your fellow passengers resent you.
  • You have to ask permission to get out of the seat to use the bathroom.

Did I mention it also sucks?

So it would be a tough sell.

I thought about the selling points:

  • You get to network with both seatmates simultaneously.
  • You don’t get whacked in the head by people’s backpacks like the person in the aisle seat does.
  • You don’t have to ask two people to move if you have to use the bathroom like the guy in the window seat does.
  • Sometimes people feel sorry for you and give you free drink coupons.

Most of this of course is B.S.

But a few weeks later I was trying to get on standby for an earlier flight home. It was the difference between getting to spend a little time with my family that night or roll up my driveway sometime after 1AM. I stood nervously at the ticket counter crossing my fingers and praying that there would be at least one seat left.

Finally the gate agent told me I was in luck. There was a seat. Just one seat.

…and you guessed it, a middle seat.

As I squeezed in between a fat bald guy that smelled like beef jerky and a woman with a small yapping dog in a soft crate under the seat, I knew I was one of the luckiest guys in the planet. I was in a seat. On a plane. Heading home early. Thank God I got a middle seat.

Sometimes we find ourselves complaining about circumstances beyond our control. This week I worked one-on-one with several employees who were miserable in their current positions. After doing some listening and helping them look at their situation differently, they realized that while they may not be happy, they:

  • had a job, that
  • paid a good salary, and
  • had good benefits, and
  • matched their 401K contributions,
  • and didn’t put them in any danger,
  • and occasionally offered little perks.

Sure sometimes it had all the luster of a middle seat, but it was indeed a seat. And that seat, for all it’s flaws, was there to take care of them.

This week, let’s all take a look at what we might see as a middle seat. Maybe we can learn to appreciate it for its real value.

What do you think?

How to “Plug Away” at Success

After nearly two years living in our house in TN, I’m finally ready for the perfect lawn to cover the area between my house and the barn.   I have 32 acres, 26 of which are wooded and the rest is pasture plus the area around the house. Over the past year, we removed about 50 trees around the house, ground up the stumps, leveled the ground, and planted some grass. The challenge is that the soil is full of rock (no wonder why Tennessee is synonymous with the nickname Rocky Top) and I need a really durable grass to supplement the Bermuda that was seeded.

Enter Zoysia!

Zoysia, a resilient type of grass that’s used on golf courses is perfect. The challenge with planting Zoysia is that it’s slow growing by seed plus seed costs a small fortune. To get your lawn in place faster, you have to plug it.   Plugging means taking chunks of the source lawn and implanting it into the destination. I guess this is the same principle used by doctors on bald, middle-aged men.   The plugs (on lawns) are about three inches in diameter, spread about six inches apart. Do this and over time your plugs grow together forming a sturdy Zoysia lawn.

Fortunately, my in-laws have a huge yard full of Zoysia and told me I could take as much as I need. I spent last Saturday getting about 120 plugs and Sunday putting them in. Now I just wait and see my hard work pay off!

We often hear about people “plugging away” at something. That implies that they work steadily and consistently, but after my Zoysia experience, I think it’s different than that.

My business and company grew as a result of “plugging away” and I certainly was persistent, but the real key was having multiple areas of focus that gradually grew into what I have today. Since starting out in 2004, I used a combination of contract work, social media, keynotes, products, coaching, consulting, volunteerism, and books, all simultaneously, and they lead to the consistent, one-brand solutions I have today. Like my eventual Zoysia lawn, It’s a smooth, good-looking process and company.

But enough about me. What about you? If you have a goal such as running a marathon, building a business, changing careers, or improving a relationship, why not consider “plugging away” at it? Here’s how:

  1. Take a piece of paper and draw a circle in the middle
  2. Write your goal in the circle
  3. Draw a ring of circles around your center circle
  4. Brainstorm a list of situations that would lead you to your goal and put one in each small circle.
  5. Draw another ring of circles just outside the first ring.
  6. Brainstorm a list of actions you would need to take to create the situations needed to achieve the goal and put each one in one of those circles.
  7. Your drawing should look just like a patch of Zoysia plugs. Put your plan in motion and let the actions influence the situations that lead to your goal.

“Plugging away” is simply working hard and regularly on a broad-based plan. It’s worked for me in business, working well for me towards a beautiful lawn, and I know will help you succeed.

Planting season for success begins new each day. How about starting out first thing in the morning?

How to Get Your Name Dropped

In my previous post, we looked at why it was more important to have your named dropped rather than just be a name-dropper.

But how do you get that kind of credibility?   I think there are three ways to do it.

  1. Your Expertise. Expertise is something that all of us have in some way. There’s something we do that is unique to us. What would happen though if we really maximized that? I saw a sign once for a veterinary dentist that specialized in horse dentistry. I’m sure horse dentists aren’t that common and if you’re a good one, you’ll probably be paid quite a bit to do a teeth cleaning or whatever it is that horses require. There is also a good chance that someone will drop your name. “Oh you need to take your horse to Dr. So-and-So. She is American Pharoah’s dentist.”

That’s advice for a horse dentist. What kind of expertise can you provide and build upon?

  1. Your Performance. Regardless of what you know, how you perform is something that people talk about. Back when I was in the Navy, we would evaluate some of the sailors that worked for us. We always seemed to identify the high performers first and assign them important tasks. Their performance enabled them to be names that we dropped. Of course we had a few folks we referred to as “dirtbags.” Their names were dropped too. That list wasn’t one you needed to be on!

What does your performance say about you? Would your name be dropped as one of the superstars or one of the “dirtbags?”

  1. Your Connections. Usually, if you’re a great performer and have expertise, you probably hang around with great people. This means others will reach out to you for other experts. One thing I’ve found over the years is that people will reach out to me and ask if I know someone in a particular field or with a certain set of expertise. When I ask why they would even bother to ask me for that, they always replay that “you seem to know everyone.” There’s a lot of power that comes with a network like that. It’s a great way to build relationships and find the best and most qualified people for whatever task you need done. Of course this can cut both ways. If you surround yourself with losers and poor performers, this reflects on you as well.

What do your connections and your network say about you? Are you hanging with superstars or “dirtbags?”

Having your name dropped is way better than being a name-dropper. Take a look at where you stand in these three areas. No better time than now to build your credibility!

Are You a Name-Dropper?

Have you ever run across a name-dropper? You know the kind of person I mean. Someone who brags about all the important people they know or how a particular lawyer, doctor, consultant they use has worked with a celebrity or somebody that everyone knows.

Name-dropping in that case is flat-out annoying and if you’re someone who does that, do us all a favor and stop.

There is a second kind of name-dropper that is a little more subtle, and those who do it aren’t doing it to brag on themselves. They actually do it to legitimize the work or projects they’re doing.

The other day I spoke with a woman who was setting herself up in a business similar to mine. I asked her what sorts of services she would offer to clients and she has some really amazing ideas. One thing stood out to me however: she named no less than 20 consultants, researchers, authors, and thought-leaders that she was following and was influenced by.

When she asked me what I thought, I challenged her with this thought:

I think it’s great that you follow so many people, but I would like to see you developing tools, ideas, processes, and curriculum that is based on YOUR research, YOUR ideas, and YOUR experience.

She agreed and I agreed to push her to innovate and create from her perspective. After all, if I am going to engage an expert, I’m more interested in what THEY know rather than who they can quote.

Maybe the goal should be:

Rather than being a name-dropper, why not be the person whose name is dropped?

How can you do this? You’ll get the answer in my next post!