Be an Ethical Entrepreneur, Marketer, and Business Builder

The 3 Non-Leadership books every Leader, Teacher and Parent should read

I realize that might title is a bit redundant.

A great leader IS a great teacher and vice-versa.
In industries, like internet marketing, where the amount of information doubles every 8 months, the ability to teach your team may be the single most important aspect of leadership.

So with that in mind, if you want to be a leader on one of my teams, these are the 3 books you need to read and live.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

If there was a single book that taught you how to be a great teacher and thereby a great leader, this is it.

Each day we are all faced with success and failures and we respond in 1 of 2 ways:

  1. Fixed Mindset – Each mistake is validation that you aren’t smart, talented or good enough. Conversely, every success tells you that you are innately “gifted” which is very dangerous because then you stop looking for challenges where you might fail and therefore not validate your “gifted” status.
  2. Growth Mindset – Each failure and success are a means of learning. You either learned what you wanted (i.e. succeeded) or you didn’t (i.e. failed). Either way, you have more to learn, further to go and higher mountains to climb. Your mind is ever-expanding and intellect can always grow.

Our team has summarized this in our Culture Statements as:

Learning from other’s successes is extremely valuable however sometimes learning from our own mistakes is more memorable. We embrace our mistakes, learn not to repeat them, and therefore are constantly pushing the limits to get better.

If you only have time for one leadership or teaching book, Carol Dweck’s book is it!

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. by Daniel Coyle


It wasn’t blind luck that the greatest concentration of artists, sculptors and painters of all time just happened to live in the same area of Italy over a 60 year time frame in the 16th century.

It’s also not chance that the small, dingy school where Anna Kournikova learned to play tennis, at one time produced 4 of the top 50 greatest players in the world.

It’s by design that the Dominican Republic has an unmatched density of great baseball players and, amidst abject poverty, Brazil has produced some of the world’s greatest players and teams consistently for nearly 50 years.

There’s a system and a code to “talent”. It’s not merely innate and it’s not simply about working for 10,000 hours on something. It’s about mindset, commitment, and breaking down the skill or talent to it’s essentials.

Daniel Coyle tells you exactly how and it’s as inspiring a read as you may ever encounter.

Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ by Daniel Goleman


Think for a second of the tests that you may have taken to measure your intelligence.

  • IQ Tests
  • SAT’s
  • ACT’s
  • College Exams
  • High School Exams

Of the tests listed above do you know which one most closely predicts success in life?
None of them. None can be correlated to job, income, happiness or any other measure of success.

But there is a test that can.

It’s called the marshmallow test.
Put a 3 year old in a room. Give her a marshmallow and say, “You may eat the marshmallow. Or you can wait a few minutes until I come back and I’ll give you 2.”

If she waits, she understands the value of delayed gratification – working hard and sacrificing now to receive something better in the future – and it will predict her future success more accurately than any other test.

That’s one of hundreds of examples that illustrate that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is more important in our lives than IQ.

Goleman also provides great examples of how to teach 3 to 93 year olds how to improve their Emotional Intelligence and better empathize with those around us.

Those were listed in the order of importance so start at the top and work your way down.

To your success in becoming a great, teaching leader,
Bryan

How do I change the culture in my office or business?

A friend of mine just emailed me today to let me know he’s just been promoted, is now taking on a much larger leadership role where he works, and sales are doing well BUT he’s having ‘people’ issues.

Well who isn’t, right? 🙂 All businesses have issues with unproductive, combative, and poor-communicating employees. But before you can address how to fix those problems, you need to know why people are that way. It’s my firm belief that the vast majority of people don’t want to suck at their job. If that’s the case, why do so many businesses have so many personnel issues?

Here’s a quick litmus test to see if your business is creating personnel issues or you just happen to have a few bad eggs.

Personally I’m not a big fan of the term “managers” as “managers manage resources and leaders lead people”. A hundred little things, like your titles, added together form a culture for your team and team members (not employees) that can affect everything about your culture, including financial results. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, so I’ll get more into what’s required of a leader in number 4.

  1. The first step is defining the culture you want… Mine is literally called our “14 Points of Culture” that set the ground work for our team expectations. While you’re laying the ground work for your team and culture, you may already have a Vision and Mission statement, but if not, that’s foundational so create that as well.
  2. From there you need to develop a Team Organizational Structure chart with the hierarchy of the leaders in your business. Keep in mind that the 3 points on a successful business triangle are made up of Sales/Marketing, Finance/Administration, and Service/Operations so your Team Structure should make sure someone is excellent at each of those things and has the supporting team to get better. At it’s most basic level, your Organizational Chart would include a Team Leader (CEO) above the Sales/Marketing Leader, Finance/Administration Leader, and Service/Operations Leader who all report to the Team Leader. Underneath each of those leaders will be their supporting teams. Keep in mind that the Team Leader should always dedicate half of his time to sales/marketing and the other half of his time to everything else!
  3. Create job descriptions for every position in your Team Organizational Structure. The descriptions should include expectations, benefits, Key Performance Indicators and benchmarks tied to incentives. No one on your team should ever be able to say “I don’t know what’s expected of me or how to do my job well.” More importantly, you must fit each team member’s skill-sets and passions into the position that will best allow her to express those passions.
  4. Now you start changing the culture by actively leading your team. You provide opportunities for open communication like regular team meetings (even going to the point of picking fights between people and departments). You provide regular and consistent feedback with quarterly performance reviews based on the 12 Questions Marcus Buckingham outlined in First, Break All the Rules. You rearrange your offices according to the rules of proximity. Make sure each of your leaders knows how to use NLP and then train your people. When you come up with new products, ideas, promotions, etc. you work hard to provide systems, procedures, scripts and all the pieces your people need to be successful at implementing new programs. You develop a culture of innovation by requiring people to come up with new ideas without fear of reprisal for “bad” ideas that don’t materialize… And rewards for the ideas that do yield results. You ensure that your leaders all develop relationships with their team members because the most important factor in employee satisfaction is an employee’s relationship with his direct superior.
  5. The fifth piece is probably the hardest, yet most important. You fire, let go, or force out the people who don’t fit into your culture, vision, structure, or job descriptions. You get rid of the people who aren’t contributing to the team and culture immediately. The lost time and energy in trying to “fix” them can almost never be recouped. However, if you haven’t provided for them an environment to succeed (with all of the 5 pieces), you’ll really have no idea if they’re good or not because you haven’t defined the rules of the game, yet. If you’re the leader or manager, this is your responsibility. If your leader or manager isn’t providing this type of atmosphere, maybe you should read my last blog on moving on.

Obviously I just presented a whole lot of ideas and pieces that make up a complex problem in a rather succinct manner. The myriad links throughout this blog will provide additional details on certain topics, however don’t try to make this TOO complex. Problems that are TOO complex get pushed to the back-burner, avoided, and ultimately never solved. Take these 5 pieces at relative face value, work on each of them, and enjoy the results.

For further resources, I recommend the following 3 books to help you change your culture:

  1. First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently by Marcus Buckingham
  2. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni
  3. Instant Team Building by Brad Sugars

To your culture-creating success, Bryan

P.S. Though it should go without saying, before you do anything else you should foster a highly ethical business environment. Without an ethical foundation, everything else will be overshadowed.

5 and 6 year olds taught me everything I need to know about great leadership…

Sorry for being a bit slow on the blogs lately. My 10-day, 2800 mile, cross-country motorcycle ride kinda had me preoccupied. Then of course coaching football to 13 5-6 year old boys has also cut into my 80 hour work weeks. 🙂  As a matter of fact, if you EVER think you’re a great leader, volunteer to teach 13 kindergarten and first grade boys how to play flag football… Teaching a handful of these kids in a classroom certainly must have its challenges, however football has it’s own nuances that the classroom does not. For instance its a physical sport and everyone knows a boy’s favorite thing to do is wrestle, tackle, push, and tease so having them go from that to learning something new is never a smooth transition. Additionally, each kid is learning something different and all at the same time. One is learning to be a quarterback another to be a running back another a wide receiver another a center. It’s actually more like the team in a business than in a classroom. Most importantly – You just gotta get all of them running in the same direction.

So here is a quick summary of the lessons my 5 and 6 year old players have taught me about effective leadership already (all of which apply to adults):

  1. Everyone has preconceived notions. I have one player who has older brothers and has obviously watched football on TV. He’s really fast and so a running back would be perfect for him. However this is flag football so running straight up the middle, like they do on TV, isn’t generally the best way to avoid getting your flags pulled.
  2. Work with what they can do and what they like. I have another player who is particularly rambunctious. Always goofing off, tackling other players, not listening, throwing grass etc. So I gave him a single objective on defense. Pull the player with the ball’s flag. He’s one of the 2 smallest players on the team and yet he pulled more flags than almost everyone else combined. He absolutely loved it and obviously I encouraged him every time. He got so good at it that he once pulled the flag of the running back before the quarterback had time to hand him the ball. The referee wasn’t real sure what to do and I couldn’t help but laugh.  So when I asked him what his favorite part about football was guess what he said? “Pulling flags!”
  3. Let them understand why its better for them to do something. The fearless player who runs up the middle does it because that’s what the pro’s do. So how do I get him to run around the other team to the outside instead? Well I can tell him to do so, or teach him why its in his best interest to do so. “OK running backs, what’s your goal?” “Score a touchdown!” “Great, so in which direction do we run?” “That way!” “Straight up the middle” “Yes!” “If you run up the middle do you think they’ll get your flags?” “Uh, yeah” “So since your so fast you think they could get your flags if you ran around them?” At this point you should have seen the excitement on his face. It was like the whole world was open to him and now he could score limitless touchdowns (those looks alone make coaching worth it).
  4. Give them structure. If you don’t have specific drills, specific breaks, specific plays, huddles, team meetings, key phrases (like “freeze!”), and some ground rules it’s chaos. Honestly my team is chaos. I’m still trying to figure out this structure thing. I like to think I’m better at it in business but now I’m not so sure… And that structure doubly applies to the dads who are helping out. They’re even more lost without specific instructions.
  5. Provide encouragement but don’t be too nice. As mentioned in #2 above you have to encourage, however if you don’t also discourage certain behaviors you have a riot on your hands. That’s my problem. I’m too nice (which makes me think I have the same problem in business). The kids need specific guidelines as to what’s acceptable (like your business needs Points of Culture) and when they’re out of line they need to have some sort of punishment (sitting next to coach and not participating is always a good one).
  6. Never assume everyone understands because you’re so great at explaining things. This results in kids running in the wrong direction. It has the same effect on your business, which is why procedures, position descriptions, scripts, incentive-based pay, Points of Culture and other VERY specific documents are necessary.
  7. Reward success. Kind, compassionate mothers everywhere are going to chastise me for this one, but if a child (or adult) drops the pass, fumbles the football, misses the tackle etc. you don’t give him a sticker. He’s not stupid. He knows he didn’t succeed so why would you confuse him by rewarding him? Now when he does well, you (as the highly respected coach) better be the first one to congratulate him!
  8. Do what you say you will. If you tell a team member you’re going to stop practice if they keep misbehaving, then stop practice. Threats without consequence carry no weight. Even a 5 year old figures that out real quick.
  9. Ignore the ignorable. My mom taught me this one. When a group of boys are sitting in the middle of a field they are going to throw grass on each other. It can’t be stopped. It’s an impossible force of nature that cannot be overcome. So ignore it. Often times there are things in our business that require the same selective ignorance… Not everything warrants our attention.
  10. You don’t know everything. Since I’m a nice guy, and not a brilliant coach, we took turns handing the ball off to different players to run. One by one each player got a chance. Another of the littlest guys I was a bit concerned about… I really wasn’t sure what he could contribute to the team and what I could encourage him to do. So when it was his turn to run he took off and ran for a touch down. His next rotation around he ran in for the extra point. In practice today we didn’t have any goal lines so he ran all the way down the field and back to me (the line of scrimmage) with no one catching him. I don’t think anyone has ever pulled his flag! Looks are deceiving. The shortest legs are not necessarily the slowest. Man am I glad I gave him a chance and, more importantly, so is he!

In First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, Buckingham points out that you always do better by having people who are good at something keep getting better than having someone who is not so good improve. You build up his strengths and ignore his weaknesses. You don’t spend time trying to overcome his weaknesses. Granted, as small children they have a lot of growing and learning to do so what may be a weakness now could certainly become a strength later. However for adults, that’s almost NEVER the case. Adults love doing what they do best, will be proud of themselves when they do it, and will continually work to get better at it because of that pride. They’ll do even better with some encouragement and continual education from their leader.

Wait a sec – that sounds exactly like my 5-6 year olds. Let them play the position they love – some prefer running, others throwing, others catching, and others getting flags – encourage them when they do it well and they will make themselves better. And if you’re a decent coach and can help them learn what they need to do to become even better, then they’ll be immeasurably more excited with their new found knowledge. The team at your business works the same way. That’s why we have team meetings, regular reviews, benchmarks, reports on performance, commissions, bonuses, processes and procedures, scripts and a Team Leader (which I tell everyone is most synonymous with “coach”). My job as a coach (and team leader) is to help everyone do their jobs to the best of their abilities.

What’s your goal as a leader (coach) in your business?

To your success, Bryan

P.S. You know what’s most amazing? These kids taught me all of this in only 4 practices and 1 game so, so much for that MBA. 😀