Posts Tagged ‘mind’

Show them the numbers!

November 26, 2012

I remember standing on stage, speaking to 300 people on how difficult it is to demonstrate our hidden value.  My point was most people don’t trust what they can’t see and for us to prove our worth we have to make it visible.  I really thought I had this group convinced when one person stood up and said, “Curt, if people don’t trust what they can’t see, why does three quarters of the world believe in God?” Well, I will tell you I had a divine intervention; I looked back and said, “I think God has a better sales team!”

Think about it. There are two times in your life you adopt religion: first, you are cultured through those you trust, or second, you come to a point in your life (i.e. crisis) where you see how life would be different with God in it.  It’s now five years later and I still believe that this is one of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned, and I believe this simple lesson is the foundation on which powerful employee relationships are built. Employees need to see how their life will be different with you, the employer, in it and they have to see how the company’s life is different with them in it.  Employees want to appreciate what they do, and they absolutely need to know that what they do is appreciated.  So how can you make their contribution visible?  I say take the time to show them the numbers.  Let them see, first hand, how they make a difference.

When I was President of ExecuTrain Canada, I made a decision that every employee should be invited to review our corporate financial statements and learn the basics of how their involvement impacted our performance.  What happened was that we started to see employees take ownership for managing their business and making great decisions.  Even though our business was struggling, they could see how their commitment and efforts were moving us in the right direction.  For example, when the employees saw the huge amount of money we had tied up in accounts receivable, everyone made a commitment to collect the money that was rightfully ours.  Every week we reviewed the numbers, we strategized new ideas, and the employees got further excited about the difference their contribution was making.

Our business was in very bad shape. We were trying to fend off bankruptcy. But because the employees could see how their work was making a difference, we were able to keep them focused and motivated on the task at hand —  surviving.  By letting your employees see under the hood and truly understand the challenges and opportunities of the business, you can also improve morale.  When employees are not given access to information they tend to fill in the blanks on their own.  Their thinking can often be very different from reality.  This can result in employees distrusting senior management and, more importantly, distrusting what is being communicated to them.  In fact, according to a study by Discovery Surveys, just 53 percent of employees believe the information they receive from senior management.

So let me ask you, are your employees invited to participate in a financial review?  Do they understand where and how their contribution impacts the business?  Are they empowered to suggest ideas that could help to reshape the business?  I am always surprised by how many businesses keep financial performance a secret.

Stephen Semple, president of Thinc Strategies, a Toronto based management consulting firm says that employees today want to be tied to clear actionable results.  He also says employers need to minimize performance review surprises by communicating clear expectations throughout the year.  He says that surprising employees during their performance review is a great way to lose trust and deflate morale.  He wholeheartedly believes tying performance back to financial or objective business indicators is the best way to open communication.
At ExecuTrain I created a very simple one-page report that allowed our management team to see the basic business indicators all in one view.  The report contained more than just numbers. It looked at financial performance, customer metrics, employee satisfaction, business process and investments in R&D.  It contained all of the indicators against which our business performance was measured.

This month, take the time to educate your team on the numbers.  Show them clearly how they can make a difference in the business.  Create a one page scorecard that shows them these numbers.  In the end there are no surprises, and you may just be pleasantly surprised to find your employees showing more ownership and taking more responsibility.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is a professional business speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out more at
www.curtskene.com

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What if this was meant to be good news?

October 25, 2012

Einstein once said that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity, which is the inspiration for the following question.

Many years ago my brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a devastating situation with absolutely no recourse. While many of us would have gotten stuck in the pain of the situation, my brother saw things differently. He looked at the news he had been given and asked himself, “What if this was meant to be good news?” He knew he couldn’t change what had happened to him, all he could do was change how he interpreted the situation. My brother chose to believe that the cancer that had invaded his body was there for a reason. Armed with this passionate belief, my brother shared his story with everyone who would listen. He visited churches across Canada; he spoke to friends and strangers alike. He spoke of hope, awareness and the bountiful life he would lead in Heaven. He opened hearts and healed old wounds; he gave back life to people who had been dying inside! He moved countless people with his story of seeking out a greater purpose.

When my brother passed away he left as an accomplished man, someone who had lead his life with meaning and shared his pain so that others could heal in theirs. I still think today about the awesome lesson he taught us. How he looked at a devastating situation and how he asked himself, “What if this was all meant to be good news?”

Think about your own business, where could you apply this lesson? If a new competitor moves into your market space, a new technology threatens your existence or your VP of Sales resigns, how would you handle the news? Too often in most companies panic sets in, pessimism and skepticism are a natural and common reaction. However, what if instead of panic you were to look for the underlying opportunity in the cards that have been played.

For example, what if a new competitor was in fact moving into your market space? How could you turn this into good news? Here are some ideas:

You could leverage off their branding and awareness activity to build your own name.
The new competitor could cause your other competitors even more pain and distraction therefore allowing you to take an even bigger step forward?
This new competitor could help reinforce the significance of your product or your market sector therefore leading to more people wanting to buy what you sell.
You could learn new ideas, new ways of positioning and new insight from a new competitor.
A new competitor could reinforce to potential customers just how complete your solution is.
You could welcome this as a wake up call and start connecting more with your own customers.
What are some of the other possible benefits that would support the belief that a new competitor in your industry could in fact be good news?

Every company needs a strategy for turning the low points in their business into good news? What could you do to reshape your interpretation of the world as it has unfolded for you? What new beliefs could you have? Shifting your thoughts from negative to positive can give you a whole new view of the situation, a whole new perspective of what lies ahead. Shifting your thoughts can turn a negative stranglehold into an empowering view of the future!

BRAINSTORMING IDEAS

List as many ideas for the following questions …

  1. What are the current aspects of your business that you have been treating as bad news?
  2. How could you shift each of these situations to be considered good news?

Spend a few minutes and think about this, share your thoughts with others and explore the possibilities that will uncover themselves.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is an inspiring Canadian professional business keynote speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies and associations look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out how easy and affordable it is to hire Curt Skene by going to his website at
www.curtskene.com

Do you have a song in your heart?

September 7, 2012

This week as I prepare to take my son Jonathan to see KISS in concert I thought what a great time to talk about the power of music and the impact it can have on your life.

I have to tell you I could write a rock opera with the songs that play in my mind all the time!  Don’t laugh music is great therapy no matter what’s going on in your life.  Music can energize, sooth, motivate, stimulate, calm, strengthen, you name the emotion, music can take you there instantly!  For me, if you live with a song in your heart you always have a safe place to call home.   If you have pressure or need to prepare for an important meeting try using music to change your mood.

On days when I am speaking I am often humming “Start Me Up.”  In fact, it would be very rare for me to not wake with that song on my mind.  Music has that wonderful way of pulling you out of the moment and giving you the confidence to launch forward into a better and more powerful place. Personally, I sing all the time, not well, but I sing nonetheless.  I truly love being at the beach looking out at the water and singing at the top of my lungs.  This summer I rode my bike in the early hours listening and singing to my list of the ultimate tunes.  Everyone one has their own special relationship with music and I am here to remind you to take the time to connect with the songs in your world.   

So this month instead trying to write philosophical dribble drabble I thought I would share my philosophy in the spirit of song and share  just a few that have shaped who I am.  You can check them out on YouTube.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BruEmB7_1ok

For me, dreaming is where it all begins because if you can’t imagine your future you will never get there to enjoy it the way you want.  This song has been on my 8-track, cassette tape, record player, Walkman and I-pod since I was 15.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQN87SEXKds

I often speak of the power of reflection, just taking time to be one with your thoughts and to give yourself permission to process them and let go of those things holding you back.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19JN50bLKjY

I had the honour and great fortune to be in Australia when this song was released for the first time and became a mega hit (and Australian anthem). If you listen to the words and take them in then nothing can or will stand in your way because you truly are the voice!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xg39uu-dlo

Call me philosophical but making today a great day really is your choice.  I have a brother who died at the age of 41 who would trade with you any day if you ever lose sight with that idea.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHDoiG2Bax0

On one of my last days at Microsoft I said goodnight to one of the co-op students.  I never did see her again as she was killed instantly on her drive home that night.  What a bitter reminder to never take for granted the things that make you sing out loud, so kiss your kids, hug your spouse, tell a stranger something to make them smile and always remember that the things you love dearly can disappear quickly with no opportunity for a proper goodbye. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1aSbKvm_mKA

Just imagine marrying the girl of your dreams, aging 22 years by her side, testing every limit you can possibly imagine and still being able to lay beside her each and every night extremely happy with the decision you made.  I still sing this song with as much passion and enthusiasm as I did on the day we married.

This is your life go sing it proud!

What if you stopped trying so hard?

September 3, 2012

The Law of Reversed Effect is very simple, it states the harder you try to force something the more difficult it becomes to do.  Simply put… you can’t force natural progression just because you want to. 

For example, how many times have you tried to force a relationship only to find the other party starts to drift away?  How many athletes have tried to force themselves back to greatness only to find they get worse?  How many times have you tried to find something only to have someone else walk in and find it right away?  My point is trying too hard often has the opposite effect.

I was reminded of this law recently when a good friend (and client) landed their dream job.   They were dedicated, diligent and trying very hard with no success.  Oddly enough this opportunity came out of the blue the moment they stopped trying to look for it.  It may not make any sense but trust me the law of reversed effect is at work everyday.

So are there areas in your life where you are trying too hard?  Are there areas in your business where you are trying to force the natural progression of a situation?  Are you trying to force something and notice that it’s drifting further away? Here’s my advice, first… get very clear of what you want and why you want it and lock that vision deep in your subconscious, second… take a deep breath, third… step back and focus your attention on something else, forth… BOOM my bet.. there it is!

“Curt Skene was the opening keynote speaker at the Canadian Institute of Management, Toronto Branch’s “Developing Professional Excellence” conference. As the event manager I was thrilled with Curt’s performance. He was the perfect kickoff speaker. His energy, knowledge, enthusiasm and sense of humour was infectious and set a positive tone for the entire day.”

Mike Aoki, Event Manager, Canadian Institute of Management (Toronto Branch)

I know I can’t force myself to write, I have to be inspired by something.  When I do try to force it, look out writers block here I come!  So I step back, take a walk, play with the kids or go to sleep then I come back (sometimes at very weird hours) and voila it’s all good now.

I will admit it can be scary to step away because thoughts of “what if I miss it” can fill your mind.  But remember the old adage “If you love something set it free, if it comes back it’s yours and if it doesn’t, it never was!”

So this month I want you to take a giant leap and just stop trying to make something happen.  That doesn’t mean stop doing the “right” things, it means stop doing things just to try to force the natural flow of how the world is about to unfold.  If you are trying to land a new job or big contract continue to plant seeds but at the same time have the confidence to step back and open yourself up to other opportunities that you may not have considered yet.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is a professional business speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out more at
www.curtskene.com

Are You Letting Anger Get The Best Of You?

June 27, 2012

I woke up this morning wondering how one starts an article on anger.  I knew the why but I was stuck on the how at least until I got thinking about our late dog Cursha.  Cursha was a great black lab, friendly, loving and very faithful.  She and I used to play Frisbee all the time and she was an amazing catcher and then my job was to wrestle the Frisbee out of her mouth.  Since both of us were ultra competitive it was always a battle but in the end I often won.  One day, quite by accident, Cursha bit me when trying to re-grip on the Frisbee.  Without thought I took the Frisbee and smacked her hard across the head.  I am not proud but I was angry and I acted on my raw instinct.  I knew I hurt Cursha but I quickly reasoned it was OK, this wasn’t personal, she bit me and it really hurt!  Within seconds I realized my mistake and I tried hugging and kissing her to tell my best friend how sorry I was but it was too late.  Cursha never played Frisbee with me again.    I have always regretted that I let anger get the best of me that day and live with regret that I never did play Frisbee with Cursha again.

Interestingly enough when people get angry they take it out on those who care the most about them and whom they themselves care the most about.  You know that lucky inner circle called family, lovers and friends who get to see the real deal behind your walls.  I think of all the kids who grow up with no self esteem or belief in themselves because their Mom or Dad lived angry lives.  The parents weren’t angry at their kids yet anger showed in how they communicated their love.  The reality is, no matter what you say anger is always personal whether you intend it to be or not.  It’s like giving freely of your love but telling everyone not to accept it because it’s not really for them.

I am very lucky that I seldom get angry but when I do I become irrational, hurtful and vengeful because anger is a powerful emotion and it can and will blind us all.

Job loss can trigger anger because of the stress it creates in our world.  One can stress about the unfairness, finances, self worth, loss of purpose, or the almost instant dysfunction one can feel in their personal relationships.   Through meeting with hundreds of executives in career transition I can tell you anger can quickly seep into the fabric of our being and once there it is a bugger to get rid of and can do “unintentional” lasting damage.

While I don’t pretend to be the expert on anger I do have an opinion I believe worthy of sharing.  First off, consider anger a passion emotion gone totally awry.  Much like love is the ultimate pleasure emotion; anger is the ultimate and most destructive one.  Both are brought out by a passionate feeling deep inside.  I believe managing anger is a personal responsibility, so never ever ask others to be accepting of yours.  Part of the solution in my mind is making a simple decision to never let anger get the best of you.  Admit anger is wrong and can never be tolerated again in your world.  Making that unwavering commitment is like a building a muscle and it will grow over time as you continue to find positive ways to manage your feelings.  Much like the alcoholic there is no middle of the road alternative because once you give it a reason to be, it will take control.  Consider walking, running, or any high activity pleasure because this will release endorphins that break anger down.  Take time every day to find peace and love because these things will always sooth your soul.  One thing I have noticed is angry people have little time to relax and find joy.

If you experience anger more than a few times a month (and I am being generous here) then let me be really clear, you have a serious anger problem that needs to be fixed.  Take responsibility for your emotions; seek help (including professional) before you damage your own human spirit and those who have come love you.    I do believe that even taking a simple breath or shifting thoughts is one of the best remedies to ever be found.

Anger can strike much like lightening whereby pent up energy builds and it needs to be released.  Anger often manifests because of a personal conflict in dealing with reality.  I would love to say life is easy and without bumps but it never is and never will be.  What can and always will help us is the way we manage what we do in angry times.  I am a big believer in always asking about the positive intent in every one of life’s little setbacks.  So what if you started to believe that every thing happens for a positive reason?  If people are driving you crazy, ask what is the positive intent that they are trying to accomplish.  If you truly can’t find one, then you know what you should be doing with those people in your life.  What is the positive reason you haven’t found work?  Is life telling you it’s time to shift or you need to do more?

Remember anger is also an ugly deceiver and it wants you to see all the ugly there is.  Since your view of the world is filtered through your emotions anger can and will give you a false and de-habilitating feedback of who you are and what others mean to you.  Anger will often tell you that there is only one thing you are mad at, yet when you solve that, anger instantly pops up in another place and time.  So anger is seldom about something in the here and now.  What anger is doing is telling you that there is significant inner turmoil that needs to be resolved.  Anger will also try to convince you that it’s a part of your DNA and you are simply wired to get angry.  However, in all my research I have found nothing in our genes, our drinking water or the food we eat that says we need to be angry people, so simply make a die hard commitment to saying an angry existence is wrong and it has never solved anything.

There is hope though because with practice and commitment all of us can train ourselves with strategies to ride through our most angry times and learn to shine.  We need to surround ourselves with positive energy, we need to ask ourselves if this emotion is really worth feeling or is it better to simply let it go.  It may sound cliché but don’t get sucked in to sweating the small stuff!

Sometimes it would seem people get angry just for the sake of being angry.  One friend I knew was angry because they were never left alone, then one day they were alone and they immediately got angry because no one was there. I still shake my head and wonder why.

A great friend often reminds me that the key is you must always speak your future.  If you think and talk in anger, then ugliness and darkness will prevail.  Conversely if you throw out positive vibes to the universe they are echoed and magnified on their return.

This month I want you to take a serious check on your anger and ask what it’s doing to your spirit, and to those who mean the most to you.  Then I want you to rise to the occasion, get the help that you need, and take back what is yours, a peaceful, comfortable and happy existence.  You deserve it; those who love you deserve it and its time to make inner happiness a part of your reality!

P.S.  I am a believer you should never live with regret and anger makes us regret what we have done.  

When Was The Last Time You took Time To Dream?

May 3, 2012

Dreams imageDo you remember the stories of how the Wright Brothers dreamt of putting a plane in the sky and how they celebrated their first flight which was less than 100 yards?  Now today we are putting planes into outer space travelling an unprecedented 28,000km an hour.   How about Roger Bannister who dreamt of achieving the impossible of running a four minute mile?  Roger had a dream that others laughed at but once achieved it was quickly surpassed.  Bill Gates had a dream of putting a computer on every desktop, a farfetched vision when you think about the fact that computers took up a small room at the time, now in my home alone we have five.  My point is dreams are the fuel that sets us on a journey for creating something brilliant.  So my question this month is, what are your dreams and what are you doing to make them come true?

Let’s agree that dreams are massive undertakings that are going to take all that you have in order to succeed.  If dreams were easy then they just wouldn’t be dreams!  Living your dreams is about letting yourself see a world of possibilities and letting go of all the old history that says you just can’t do that.  Dreams are there to inspire you to do great things.  Dreams are about evolutionary living.

So do only great people dream or do dreams actually make people great?  I personally believe that dreams don’t know how to discriminate against us yet we can often discriminate against living our dreams.  We convince ourselves that we don’t deserve a better outcome so why would we ever dare dream? 

Customer Testimonial
“Curt is simply brilliant and his message is brilliantly simple!” 

I remember taking my kids to see the “Bucket List” and then asking myself what dreams do I want to achieve?  The first thing on my list was to play on stage with my son’s band and if you heard me on the guitar you would know what a dream this will be!  But it’s that dream that still has me picking up my guitar and strumming out chords in preparation for the big day.  I also remember watching “Pay It Forward” and witnessing Trevor McKinney endeavouring to change the world by paying forward on acts of kindness.  What amazed me most was this was a dream that moved the world yet it was so simple to put into place.  My mission of “Simple thinking that changes lives” was inspired by this movie.  I also have to confess that I often get teary eyed watching Extreme Home Makeover because the thought of stepping into a stranger’s life and making a massive difference is undeniably a dream come true.

So what about living your dreams isn’t that what you should be doing?  I can hear you now… are you kidding?  Have you seen my bank account?  Do you know how much crap I have to do?  When in heck would I find the time and money to live my dreams?  Dreams belong to those who don’t live in my world.

The funny thing about dreams though is they really can pick us up often at times when we need it the most.  Think about it, when was the last time you read a “dream come true” story where the leading player had a perfect life?   Most dreams start from very humble beginnings.  The purpose of dreams is to give us the reason to believe in our future, especially when we have stopped believing in ourselves.

So this month give yourself the gift of dreaming.  Pick a future that you deserve and start creating a path to make it a reality.  The more we dream the less opportunity we have to think about all the things that could possibly get in our way!

Here’s to you and all your dreams!

Looking for a Great Keynote for your next event?
Curt Skene delivers over 75 rapid-fire insights on how to find more business and create more opportunity in his fun and informative keynote “Master  The Marketplace!” Visit www.curtskene.com

What if you simply decided to start believing in you?

March 12, 2012

Do you know how many people tell me they are broken?  Oh I can’t do that – there’s just no way!  Then they come up with a million reasons why it’s ok to accept their mediocrity.  I am sure you have heard them all before… it was my parent’s fault, it’s because my company fired me, I had a tough life, the kid’s used to laugh at me, I made poor choices, I wet the bed, my spouse left me, the babysitter dropped me on my head!!  It really doesn’t matter because there is always an excuse to be had.

So my question this month is what if you changed all of those excuses into a burning fuel for living your life with a new brilliant purpose?  What if you simply decided to start believing in you?

Since last May I have had the honour (and I do mean honour) to meet hundreds of amazing people who through little fault of their own have faced the adversity of a job loss.  Now I would never suggest that being fired is a cakewalk but more times then not job loss is a brilliant beginning to a new world of amazing opportunity.

Honestly, what you do tomorrow is now your choice.   In fact, you can decide right now to start living your dream.  But here is something that I really can’t figure out.  How come people can place all the blame for their reality on themselves but any success they have is quickly directed to someone else.    That math simply doesn’t work out.  Wasn’t it Isaac Newton who taught us that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  Therefore it would only make sense that if you are capable of failure then you are just as capable of success.

Here’s another piece of trivia… Did you know that long before man ever adapted to using language our subconscious was developed as the protection mechanism to ward us from pending danger; its primary purpose was to sense danger and lead us away from it.  However, once man learned language the role of the subconscious diminished but it has never stopped gathering data and performing its duty especially in times of uncertainty.  So today when people face uncertainty the subconscious mind revs up and fills us with thoughts designed to protect us.  Stuff like… oh you can’t do that, that is too risky, they’ll never want you, maybe you are dumb.  This is all natural and part of our design.  People who achieve great success use these thoughts as feedback loop and give it some input but not total submission.  Your subconscious is a just a friend with a perspective that may just be different then yours. .

This month I want you to look in the mirror and see your real beauty.  It’s tempting to see the ugly but so powerful to find beauty in whom you are and what you have achieved.  Do yourself a favour and write down all of those wonderful successes you have achieved and celebrate them for what they are, “footprints of the indelible mark you are leaving in the lives you touch.   Here’s to fuelling your future with passion and purpose.

Curt Skene is a successful keynote speaker and sought after career coach who has helped hundreds re-invent themselves and their career.   His gift is telling you the things you need to know that will make a big difference in your success.  Check out his free career coaching community at www.mastermindset.ning.com

Are you aligning with customer expectations?

February 5, 2012

Fair or unfair everyone sets expectations of people they meet in business and or life.  Expectations are influenced by corporate title, education, industry association, family ties and many other things.  My point is before you and I ever meet there’s a pretty good chance I already have an expectation of what I expect our relationship might be like.

Working with Microsoft I saw first hand how quickly expectations were set.   I quickly became a Canadian thought leader not because I was brilliant but because people set expectations through my connection to Microsoft.  I became brilliant through association.  The challenge was I needed to live up to a very tall order!

Today because of my active coaching schedule I meet many senior executives who I have set high expectations for long before they ever meet me.  I expect marketing execs to be pretty darn brilliant at communicating their worth.  I expect CEO’s and VPs to have a clear strategy about how they are going to lead their people (and more importantly themselves) in doing great things.  I expect sales reps to be doing deals regardless of the economy because they are deal makers (not order takers) and be very clear deal makers create opportunity when little exists.

So honestly I am a little disappointed in the world today because it seems many have forgotten about the expectations they need to be living up to.  It’s almost like they feel greatness is owing to them so just bring it on.

Customer Testimonial
“Curt, our managers needed to hear your message!  It gave them a great sense that they can be competitive in this marketplace.  Almost everyone said they felt well armed to tackle their duties thanks to the rapid fire ideas you gave them.  I personally thought your mix of humour and straight shooting made this session fly by in a positive and enlightening way.” – V.P. Caressant Care

Now I am writing this because I am passionate about helping you do great things and the best way I can help you is by aligning your world with the expectations people have for you.  This month I need you to ask a really tough question and that is, are you aligned with your customer’s expectations?  Are you exceeding the great things people already expect of you, if not what needs to change immediately?

I want you to have fun with this question because investing in your future will reap you more pleasure than pain.  Ask, do you need to be investing in new intellect because the world is evolving so quickly?  Do you need to be pushing the envelope in your thinking because traditional thoughts will quickly go unnoticed?  Do you need to be upping your game because walking to opportunity is the kiss of death when you are running a race that is only going to get faster?

You may as well face it, we all set expectations for others and they set them for us.  The secret to success is exceeding those expectations well before the benchmark is ever set.  I am not exempt from this rant.  I have things I need to be doing right now to deliver greatness on the stage because clients expect me to be a great speaker.  So I am off to ponder what I need to do and put on socks because apparently, so I have been told, my clients expect that too!

Looking for a Great Keynote for your next event?
Curt Skene delivers over 75 rapid-fire insights on how to find more business and create more opportunity in his fun and informative keynote “Master  The Marketplace!” Visit www.curtskene.com

Why Not Be a Player?

January 30, 2012

This month I gave myself a tough assignment; I made a commitment to go out and have fun. I had a busy month ahead, and I made it my mandate to find time to play. Do you know what?  I had a very productive month, one of my most productive ever. I think as our world grows busier we lose focus on the importance of creating playtime and the positive benefits it creates for our work environment. We tend to think that the busier we are, the more we are getting done, but I have found that the incredibly successful people take plenty of time to play. 
 
One of my favourite mind laws is called “the law of reversed effect.” This law states that the harder we try to do something, the more difficult it becomes. It is the root cause behind writer’s block and an athlete’s slumping performance. It’s harder to do things when you are trying to force yourself. You have likely experienced the frustration of not being able to remember something you absolutely know you should. In fact, have you noticed that when you stop trying to remember, it comes back to you? The same thing holds true for performance: if you want to encourage and promote great performance, don’t push so hard. Stop trying to make things happen and you will often find it becomes easier to do.

Curt you had everyone riveted to their seats, the feedback has been great and I have heard from all 220 delegates that you were the message we needed to hear!  Thanks for the great work.”
Jerry Engels, President, Agricultural Manufacturers of Canada
 
This month, I had six public speaking engagements in ten days, and two of these talks were brand new programs. While most people would lock themselves in their office and prepare, I did the next best thing. I went for a run. I like running. It makes me think better. By the end of my forty minute run, I had a very good conceptual plan of the first speech I needed to write. I find that when I let loose, my brain takes me to places that I can’t seem to get to when I sit at my desk. In this particular case I was able to take a so-so piece of my speech and turn it into a powerful closing segment that has taken my speech to a new level. By taking time to play, I bettered my business. When was the last time you went out and played, all in the name of bettering business?
 
In my pursuit for fun, I sat down with Barb Elaschuck, Director of Corporate Wellness at the Sports Club of Canada (www.sportsclubs.com). Barb told me that more and more companies are coming to SCC to play. She says it strengthens morale, reinforces life balance and reduces stress. She also told me how companies are creating corporate challenges among other business partners and creating fun events that build more synergy across both organizations. While I was there, she shared an interesting study that showed how companies with active health programs have ten times better retention than those without. While the study was dated, I believe the results probably still hold true today. 
 
When it comes to playing, I have always been convinced that companies need a better quality of playtime. So I called on Chris Iliffe and Dave Hyde, co-owners of www.trythat.ca, to learn more about the adventures and experiences they offer corporations that want to play more. While I did not know much about their company, their adventures sounded different and fun. They said that instead of talking about their business, they wanted me to experience it first-hand. For an exciting three hour period, I put on my jumpsuit and became an F18 fighter pilot, challenging others in a dog fight high in the virtual sky. What was interesting was how my team came together even though I was a complete stranger to all of them. The game forced us to work with each other, watch each other’s back and anticipate what our partners would do. I found myself wondering who wouldn’t want to teach these skills to everyone in their organization.
 
Sometimes, even when we play, we can learn so much. Now I should be clear, I am not a fan of teambuilding exercises that get you to build a boat out of two pieces of cardboard, a roll of string and a four leaf clover, but I really got into this real-time game where I was working with a retired Air Force officer and the rest of my team to plan a mission to take out the enemy. It was realistic and fun. I realize that not everyone finds being a fighter pilot interesting. Dave told me that they learned the hard way that you can’t force employees to have fun; if you really want to make a difference, you need to give them the freedom to choose the adventure of their choice. I like planes, you like spas. Everyone should have a choice. That’s why Trythat created their voucher program — so that each employee can customize the best experience for them.
 
Whatever your challenges are this month, make sure you take time to play. You will strengthen your focus, explore new ways of thinking and improve your employee retention. If you haven’t got time for an all out adventure you may want to check out www.inmyhands.ca. Irene and her team will bring in their onsite massage chairs and give everyone a restful and relaxing massage. Not quite a margarita on the beach, but it’s coming close in these busy, stressful times.
 
Special thanks to The Sports Clubs of Canada (www.sportsclubs.com ), TryThat (www.trythat.ca) and In my Hands (www.inmyhands.ca).

Looking for a Great Keynote for your next event?
Curt Skene delivers over 75 rapid-fire insights on how to find more business and create more opportunity in his fun and informative keynote “Master  The Marketplace!” Visit
www.curtskene.com

Second Best Also Deserves A Chance!

January 24, 2012

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to meet Canadian Olympic rower Alison Korn. I remember asking her, “What was it like to row in the Olympics?”  She said, “It’s funny, even though we practiced for years, we never found the passion and energy until we saw the finish line.  But when we knew that we were one thousand metres from the finish line and all that we had worked for would be lost, we found more passion and energy than we ever thought possible.”

I remember that race. They went from fourth to second and narrowly missed winning the Gold.  Why is it that teams who have struggled the entire game monopolize the final five minutes?  How come they couldn’t figure it out for the first fifty-five?  It’s because they didn’t see their finish line.  Professional athletes need the clarity and finality that the finish line provides them.  A finish line is that point of no return that you can shoot for.

In our world, the goal is to attract and keep great people, but I find myself wondering:  are we giving our employees a clear target to shoot for? In essence, do our employees know what it means to be great?  Do they know what the expectations are and do we give them the room to exceed them?  Maybe instead of attracting great employees we need to be focusing our attention to grooming great employees.

“Congratulations! Your keynote was a great hit.  Out of 8 speakers your reviews clearly defined you as the highlight.”
Ms. Laurie Campbell, Conference Chair, E2E Conference

Basically, I believe there are three types of employees out there.  There are those who get it, those who want to get it, and those who are there just for the ride.  For the employees who get it, their abilities are natural, their skills are instinctive and our role is to clear any obstacles and stand out of their way.  On the other end, for the employee who is just there for the ride, our role is to prompt, prod and motivate but quite frankly I seldom, if ever, have seen these people turn into our star performers.  So this leaves us the middle, the employees that want to get it but just can’t do it on their own.  I believe we need to spend most of our time working with them.  These are the employees who want to make a significant contribution, who want to overachieve but for whom it just isn’t as instinctive for whatever reason.  This is where I believe you can find real gold!

As managers, I think one of the things we do to confuse employees is have them chasing too many targets. Sure, we create goals and objectives, but over the year we let too many other “priority one” initiatives land on their plate.  Am I the only one who has had a boss that believed everything in the business was priority one?  In the end, we water down our potential performers by having them focus on way too much.  If we want peak performance we have to give them the clarity of a finish line and remove many of the other distractions.

Another challenge I find in managing this middle tier is confidence.  Quite often they have the skills but lack the confidence to go out and take self directed action.  They are often waiting or seeking approval.  One of the best things you can do is encourage them to take a risk.  Encourage them to step out on their own and take the initiative.  Encourage them to think and do what’s best for the business.  Because this group is naturally risk adverse, you will seldom see them take on too much risk.

Finally, you need to consider the team dynamics.  Are you giving as much publicity and promotion to this middle group?  I often find that, in most organizations, all of the attention goes to the “stars,” the ones at the top.  The problem is you end up alienating others along the way.  Our role in coaching peak performance is in balancing the amount of attention and promotion we give.

Think about the roles and expectations you have defined for others.  While they may appear clear to us, remember it doesn’t come as easily and naturally for everyone.  Give more guidance on what it takes to overachieve.  Also, try taking the time to segment your team and focus more attention on the employees in that valuable middle group.  In the end, their contribution will be invaluable.  Remember that every company needs a balance of performers.  While it’s important to attract and keep great employees, it’s also critical that we groom and coach new ones.

We need our stars. But we also need our second and third stringers.  In fact, if you think about it, the teams that win championships are often the ones where there is less focus and expectation on the stars and more emphasis on developing the team.

ABOUT CURT SKENE
Curt Skene is a professional business speaker, sales trainer, and certified hypnotist who specializes in helping companies look at their business, their relationship with their customers and their future opportunities in a powerful and positive light. Curt offers over 75 rapid-fire insights based on over 20 years of award-winning business experience (Microsoft, ExecuTrain and BrainBuzz) and combines his experience with the kowledge he has gained as a certified hypnosis/NLP practitioner.  Find out more at www.curtskene.com


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