Finding another person’s passion

OK, so I ordered at Starbucks this morning and got talking to the Barrista. I know he rides a BMW motorcycle, so I made a comment about how much I liked the bike. It was like I flipped a passion switch. Actually, it wasn't even "like" I did that. That is exactly what I did.

He went on and on talking about stuff that sounded like a foreign language to me. But, I stayed and listened with excitement, because I knew that I had tapped his passion. Those "passion points" are important to honor.

Having trouble connecting with an employee or a friend or family member? Find their passion and hold on.

Finding another person’s passion 2008-04-28T06:44:01+00:00

Real Time Feedback and Twitter

I mentioned yesterday that I'm speaking at a conference on community leadership in Denver. Prior to the conference, one of the workshop presenters set up a Twitter for conference participants to use during the conference. I've been receiving real-time messages from him as he sits in workshops. He shares his thoughts and pushes back on what he is hearing (in real-time).

There's something I like about this as a speaker. Imagine receiving real-time feedback as you're speaking. I know this could cause problems, but it could also force the speaker to shape more helpful comments that actually help  a group take away something of immediate value.

Real-time feedback is becoming more the norm and Twitter just might add to that trend.

Real Time Feedback and Twitter 2008-04-25T10:24:53+00:00

So many cool things going on in the world

I'm in Denver speaking at the national conference for the Community Leader's Association. I was on the prowl for a Hazelnut latte, when I bumped into a guy in the elevator heading to my floor. He introduced himself and told me he too was speaking at the conference.

What do you do
, I asked him.

I'm the founder of a non-profit organization that helps people think about how to bring spirit to work, he replied.

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Bad news seems so prevalent on the news. It was nice to be reminded, through a 30 second elevator ride, that there are so many cool people in the world who are doing cool things.

So many cool things going on in the world 2008-04-24T13:16:56+00:00

Connect your customer’s needs to your own experience

I have a friend who recently left his ATM debit card at a gas station (no it really wasn't me--although clearly something I would do). He didn't discover that it was missing until the following day. He hunted high and low, thinking it was lost. As he traced his steps, it led him back to the gas station where he had filled up the day before.

He called the station. Success. It was indeed there at the station.

"I'm here until 10 pm," said the attendant. "But, if you can't make it in, I could meet you on my way home and give it back to you."

My friend was blown away.

"Thank you very much, but I'll just come pick it up, right now," my friend responded.

"OK, well if I'm in the back of the store, just wait and I'll be right back. I've got it right here for you."

Again, my friend was amazed at the attendant's care and pro-activity regarding the return of the card. When, he finally met the attendant, he thanked her for her help and genuine concern about his card.

"Oh, the same thing has happened to me," she laughed, "so I know what you're going through."

As my friend related this story to me, it struck me why this woman gave such great customer service.

She connected my friends need to her own experience.

The best customer service comes from a genuine person who wants to help. And, the best way to be genuine with a customer is NOT to put yourself in his or her shoes. But, remember a time you WERE in his or her shoes and act accordingly.

Connect your customer’s needs to your own experience 2008-04-20T11:19:14+00:00

Some people just naturally lead well

I'm sitting in a Starbucks watching the manager lead better than perhaps 50% of the CEO's in the world. Here's what I've seen:

    1) He took out the trash

    2) He makes everyone who walks in feel unique and important (in five seconds of interaction)

    3) He encourages his team with humor

    4) He makes everyone on the team feel like their contribution matters (a lot)

    5) He has a banter in the store that keeps things moving, fun and focused

He looks to be 20 or 21-years old-23 tops. I'm a big believer that leaders can be  cultivated. But this guy reminds me, some people do it without even trying.

By the way, as I write this, he just keeps getting better. The team is engaged, laughing and feeding off his energy. Maybe we should let this guy teach the rest of us.

Some people just naturally lead well 2008-04-18T07:06:25+00:00

Obama’s “bitter” comments

We've all heard about Obama's "bitter" comments over the past few days. The trouble with the comments is not the comments, but rather the general nature of them (the comments). I would have to be the first one to admit, that when I've hit hard times in my life, I've clung to things in an unhealthy manner. Is it possible to cling, in a dysfunctional way, to guns or God. Um, ya. It sure is. The problem is that Obama's words were aimed at a particular group that made him appear elitist. I don't know if he is or not. But, that was the perception--whether he meant it or not.

The truth is, life--at times--does make cowards of us all. Sometimes in an attempt to restore the illusion of control, we cling to things that make us feel better temporarily.  I don't think anyone can deny that reality. Actually, from that view point, Obama's words are correct. It's just that his generalization got him in trouble. To suggest all people from a certain group or state or town are clinging in an unhealthy manner is silly. But, to suggest that we all do it, is true.

Obama’s “bitter” comments 2008-04-15T13:13:26+00:00

Decision making and delay

Last night, I watched parts of CNN's compassion forum with the Democratic Presidential candidates. At one point, Clinton was asked who she consults before making political decisions that are morally charged. It was a side comment, in her answer, that intrigued me.

Clinton's paraphrased answer: Because you're President of the United States you can't simply delay decisions. After praying (if you're a person of faith) and listening to others, you have to make the decision.
----

My follow up question to her answer would have been, "why can't you delay?"

Now, I know there are dangers in OVER-delaying a decision. Of course, knowing when you've over-delayed is a bit of an art. But, impulsive decision making is equally as dangerous. It is quite possible for a leader to listen to others, pray (if he or she is a person of faith) and still jump the gun on a decision. The real trouble with decision making, as a leader, comes when the leader cannot hold the decision loosely. If the decision has already been made in his or her mind, then delay is simply smoke and mirrors.

But, if a leader is truly open to collaborative and wise decision making, delay can be very good. Again, I'm not referring to the paralyzed leader, but rather the open and discerning leader. The patient leader-- on big decisions-- should probably wait longer than is initially comfortable.  Doing this keeps the leader from falling prey to a narrow agenda. 

When it comes to decisions, waiting and listening may be better than praying--particularly if the prayer is  coming from a leader who is simply looking for ways to justify a decision rather than discern a moment.

Decision making and delay 2008-04-14T06:01:53+00:00

Hold your anger with mindfulness

In our own ways, we all struggle with anger. I watched a clip this week on You Tube of Ram Dass interviewing a well known Buddhist monk (Thich Nach Hahn) about the way to "hold" anger. Holding anger with mindfulness allows the anger to "be" without it becoming toxic. Instead of trying to avoid anger, what if we held it--like a mother holds a child--and allowed it its place without allowing it to consume us or those around us?

Here's part of the interview.

Hold your anger with mindfulness 2008-04-12T12:24:04+00:00

Windows Vista–Why should Microsoft get away with this?

Whenever I talk about computer stuff, I always disclose that I'm an Apple fanatic. So there ya go. I'm clearly biased.

I was listening to a local radio station today and a commercial for a computer store, in town, popped on. The commercial went on and on talking about the problems people are having with Windows Vista.

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We hear stories everyday of people who bought Windows Vista who now can't transfer their iTunes music, who can't transfer files and even can't use personal software necessary for their business. If this is you, here at Computer X store, we still have a large number of PC's loaded with Windows XP ready to go at low prices.

---

As I listened, I just shook my head. Why can Microsoft get away with this? I guess when your market share is huge, you can put out inferior product and nobody can really challenge you? Here's what Microsoft, and all of us need to remember:

Just as there was a tipping point that made Microsoft the giant it now is, there can be a tipping point that undoes success at an alarming rate.  Failure to run a business around basic principles of excellence will end up hurting even the giants. Can anyone say Dell?  Who would have thought HP would pass them in PC market share?

I'm not suggesting Microsoft will be going out of business anytime soon. However, over time, to many Windows Vista moments can erode confidence and make competitors look really attractive. For instance, the MacBook I'm typing this post on is becoming more and more attractive to PC users? Why? For the answer, re-read this post.

Windows Vista–Why should Microsoft get away with this? 2008-04-08T08:00:29+00:00

iTunes U

Apple has a great resource called iTunes U. Just go to the home page of your iTunes browser and you'll see box for iTunes store on the upper left hand side of the browser. At the bottom of the list is iTunes U. It's packed with great resources on a variety of issues from a variety of leading universities. Check it out.

iTunes U 2008-04-06T20:34:17+00:00

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Written by Dave Fleming