October 31, 2006

Commentary by Carlin

Filed under: Observations, Success — Mark Sanborn @ 3:58 pm

My friend Doug Neilsen passed on the following quote and I thought it well worth sharing. Think of it as a “snack for thought.”

“The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers; wider freeways but narrower viewpoints. We spend more but have less; we buy more but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences but less time. We have more degrees but less sense; more knowledge but less judgment; more experts yet more problems; more medicine but less wellness.

We’ve learned how to make a living but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.” –George Carlin

Simple Value Added

Filed under: Customer Service Strategy — Mark Sanborn @ 11:20 am

Marriott has a wonderful loyalty program and I’ve enjoyed being a member at the Platinum Level. There are some nice ammenities offered at check-in, but today I experienced a “first.”

I’m staying at the Marriott River Center in San Antonio soon, and I received the following email:

Bienvenido! We are looking forward to your arrival and we would like to thank you for staying with us during your visit to San Antonio. Our staff is “At Your Service” 24 hours a day, always available to meet your needs.

We would like to extend a special thank you for being a Marriott Elite Member. We recognize the importance of your visit here and we would like to provide you superior service. If you should have any questions and/or requests, please feel free to contact us. Our staff is ready to serve you with our “Warm Hearts” displaying our “Rich Authentic Culture”!”

Not a big deal, but a very nice touch. I realize this is a standard email sent to elite guests, but somebody took time to create it and send it out prior to arrival. As the old cliche goes, little things can make a big difference.

October 30, 2006

The Difference Between Success and Greatness

Filed under: Moral Leadership, Professional Development, Reviews, Success — Mark Sanborn @ 11:51 am

Dr. Tim Kimmel has written an excellent book called Raising Kids for True Greatness (W Publishing Group). In it, he lists the differences between success and greatness, and it applies to adults as well as children:

  • Success looks inward; true greatness looks upward, then outward.
  • Success is about my agenda; true greatness is about God’s agenda.
  • Success accomodates selfishness; true greatness celebrates altruism.
  • Success is about receiving; true greatness is about giving.
  • Success worships what it sees in the mirror; true greatness grieves over what it sees through its windows.
  • Success pays off for now; true greatness pays off forever.

Something More Important than a Mission Statement

Filed under: Leadership, Moral Leadership, Difference Makers — Mark Sanborn @ 11:43 am

My friend Ian Percy says it well: most organizations don’t need a mission statement, they need a mission.

Novo Nordisk gets it. Their vision is to be the world’s leading diabetes care company. But their mission is to defeat diabetes. This 80 plus year old Danish company isn’t the largest player in the diabetes pharma sector, but they probably have the most heart. There is a palpable difference in the company’s philosophy that is reflected not just in their collateral but in their leadership and employees.

The company is committed to a triple bottom line:

  • economically viable
  • socially responsible, and
  • environmentally sound.

There are detractors of this approach in the business community, but Novo Nordisk doesn’t care. They know what they stand for, and what is important to them.

Novo Nordisk also says, “We will offer products and services in areas where we can make a difference.” Most companies offer products and services in areas where they can make a profit, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The only thing better than making a profit is making a profit and making a difference.

October 27, 2006

Does Your Product Sell for You?

Filed under: Observations, Selling — Mark Sanborn @ 12:06 pm

Why don’t hair stylists put pictures of their work in their ads? The best testimonial for a great stylist is the quality of the work they do.

When I try to find someone new to cut my hair (I have a theory that after a couple of years, most hairstylists become complacent), I ask for recommendations. The problem is that just because someone likes their stylist doesn’t mean you will as well.

I’ve driven around my neighborhood and looked at salons and other places that cut men’s hair. A hip appearance may encourage me in my search, but how do I know who within the establishment will do the best job cutting my hair?

I’ve called or gone inside and asked the receptionist a simple question: “Who is really good at cutting men’s hair?” The answer will be less than objective. The problem is that no receptionist wants to get fired for saying, “Well, Theresa is really, really good but she’s booked today. Kris is available but she sucks at men’s hair.” Instead, if Kris is available, the official party line is that “clients really like her.”

Salon yellow page ads and websites are painfully undifferentiated and unhelpful. Why doesn’t a stylist or salon showcase pictures of clients? I could get a better idea about who I’d want to let whack away at my diminishing hair by observing how he or she has done on several others. Don’t run ads of models. Run real ads that say, “These people get their hair cut here, and here are the stylists responsible!”

From observations in my area, nobody is using their “product” as a means of attracting discriminating new clients.

October 26, 2006

Leadership at Every Level

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Sanborn @ 7:59 am

This post references the October Edition of my Leadership Lessons ezine. Here’s an excerpt…

Phillip of Macedonia, the father of Alexander the Great, said, “An army of deer led by a lion is more to be feared than an army of lion led by a deer.” That may be true, but I’ve come to believe that Phillip missed the bigger point: An army of lions led by a lion is to be feared most of all, for it is unstoppable.

What’s more powerful than having strong, effective leadership at the top of your organization? Having an organization of lions where everyone leads. (…continued)

Once you’ve read the article, I’d love to get your feedback. Use the Comments link at the end of this post to let me know what you think. Thanks.

October 25, 2006

A Roadmap to Professional & Personal Development

Filed under: Featured, Professional Development — Mark Sanborn @ 7:15 am

I just spoke for the Insight Leadership Conference for Fortune Brands. This is an $8 billion dollar company with 20 consumer brands that are usually #1 or #2 in their respective categories, and include Titleist, Moen, Sauza and Makers Mark.

Get this: 20% of revenues come from products that were introduced in the past 36 months.

That got me thinking: what if we used a similar standard for personal and professional development? It was cause us to ask questions like these:

  • What percentage of the skills you currently use was developed in the past three years?
  • How much of what you know has been learned in the most recent 36 months?
  • How many new ideas have you come up with? (By the way, you might want to check out Business 2.0’s article on Crowdcasting in the November 2006 issue: the term refers to generating new ideas by tapping into the ‘wisdom’ of crowds, in this case 3,000 MBA students who are competing to solve the problems of companies such as American Express, GE Money, Mars & Whirlpool.)
  • What practical revenue are you realizing from recently developed or acquired intellectual capital?

Two Heads are Better Than….

Filed under: Observations, Influence — Mark Sanborn @ 6:53 am

Nobody is as good thinking alone as they are thinking with someone as good or better than they are.” Dr. Saj-nicole Joni

October 24, 2006

How to Fail at Failing

Filed under: Leadership, Featured, Politics, Moral Leadership — Mark Sanborn @ 9:59 am

A moral collapse is a very bad thing. It can be made worse, however, by failing to deal with the downfall appropriately and effectively.

It is instructive, given fairly recent events, to learn what not to do.

First, don’t make excuses. Mark Foley should have known better than to disclose his childhood trauma in the wake of his abject moral failure. As soon as his handlers said, “This isn’t meant as an excuse…” most people labeled it exactly that.

Are explanations ever in order? Perhaps, but timing is key. Foley should have accepted responsibility and, if sincere, communicated regret. (I’m quite certain he regrets getting caught, but haven’t seen any real remorse from him or his people about what he did.) At a later date, an explanation might have been in order, but I’m not sure it would have accomplished much. Foley’s focus should have been on responsibility first and then making amends.

Secondly, don’t point at others. The next extremely dumb thing Foley did was to name the priest he claims molested him as a child. This time, the “naming” was done (according to the spin from his representative) for the sake of “healing”. Healing is important, but it doesn’t need to be done in public. Foley would have been a bigger person to deal with the “whom” privately. What was gained by naming the priest? Nothing, other than to bolster Foley’s excuse about why he behaved inappropriately.

Does Foley’s past have bearing on his current situation? Yes and no. We are all affected by our pasts, but we don’t have to be controlled by them. Foley’s childhood provides context for some but is mostly unneeded by most.

My friend John Crudele, who has worked extensively with young people once said, “Kids are victims. Adults are volunteers.” Once we recognize a problem, as responsible adults we do whatever we can to address them. Leaders take responsibility, they don’t place blame, and they don’t try to hide their blame in lame explanations.

October 13, 2006

Bad News on the Literacy Front

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mark Sanborn @ 10:42 am

From Publishers Weekly Online:

Another Plunge in Store Sales
by Jim Milliot
Bookstore sales tumbled 7.7% in August, to just over $2 billion, according to preliminary estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The decline follows a 9.3% drop in bookstore sales in July. While the plunge in July was explained in part by the big spike in demand in July 2005 for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, reasons for the sales decline in August are less clear. The summer slump pushed total sales through August down by 2.1%, to $10.55 billion. For all of retail, sales were up 6.9% in the first eight months of 2006 and were ahead 6.7% in August.

Unless the slack in reading is being taken up by public libraries (and I’ve seen no data to suggest that it is), this means that people are generally reading fewer books.

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