March 30, 2007

Thought for a Friday (or any) Afternoon

Filed under: Observations — Mark Sanborn @ 2:49 pm

In my recent reading I ran across this idea: sometimes you need to shuck the “have to’s” and enjoy the “get to’s.”

What a great thought for a Friday afternoon.

Or any time or day for that matter.

March 28, 2007

You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader Continues Its Bestselling Ways

Filed under: Reviews — Sanborn & Associates @ 11:55 am

According to Nielsen’s BookScan, You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader has once again made the business best seller list. Charting this week at #19, YDNT has appeared on the list of best selling, hardcover business books for 27 straight weeks now.

According to Nielsen, their BookScan service is intended to “provide weekly point-of-sale data with the highest possible degree of accuracy and integrity.”

We’d like to say thanks to all the readers, buyers and leaders (titled and not) who have contributed to the book’s early success!

Create Teamwork with ACES

Filed under: Teamwork — Mark Sanborn @ 10:54 am

What kinds of characteristics do you want your team members to possess?
In my book, Teambuilt: Making Teamwork Work, I suggest hiring ACES. ACES is an acronym for four important qualities that are very difficult to teach or develop. By getting people who already possess those qualities on your team, you’ll fast-forward your success.

A = Attitude (a basic positive orientation and disposition)
C = Cooperation (a proven record of cooperating and collaborating with others is key)
E = Energy (every tried to teach someone to be energetic?)

S = Service Ethic (these are people who do the right things for the right reason)

March 26, 2007

You Know You’re Traveling Too Much When…

Filed under: Observations — Mark Sanborn @ 5:50 pm

…you go to the airport newstand and realize you’ve read every magazine of interest, and a few that didn’t interest you out of desparation.

…you are able to answer questions flight attendants have about an airport.

…you’ve memorized the seating chart for most aircraft configurations.

…you keep another carry-on bag packed so you can switch the one you’ve already used when you return from a trip.

…you know the flight times between cities without being told by the pilot.

Does being Mormon Make You a Better Leader?

Filed under: Observations, Moral Leadership — Mark Sanborn @ 8:15 am

This was a question posed by CNN this morning. It has been asked of other belief systems before. Does being a Christian make you a better leader, or a better spouse? Does being Jewish make you a better businessperson? Does being (fill in the faith of your choice here) make you a better (fill in your choice of a desirable skill or job here)?

I believe that being a person of faith first and foremost makes you a better person. While faith traditions vary, one commonality is the belief that there is a spiritual dimension to life, that the immediate the material is not all that there is. Unless your belief system causes you to be more violent or less loving, it follows that as a better person, you’ll bring more to your work and position.

But I would still stop short of saying it makes you a better leader, more successful or increases your networth.

Mother Theresa was arguably one of the most influential people of the twentieth century. We should note, however, that when inquired about how she felt about her lack of material gain, recognition and financing (”think how much more you might have been able to do!”), she responded by saying, “God has called me to a ministry of mercy, not a ministry of success.”

I’m reminded of a story my stockbroker told me years ago. Someone in his office was struggling to make it as a broker. He found faith and became a top producer. I asked my friend this question: What would have happened if the broker found faith, and continued to struggle as a broker? Would you still be telling me the story?

I don’t believe in using faith primarily as a means to an end–faith as winning lotto ticket in the sky. I believe that true faith is about doing the hard work of finding out what is true, and then believing and practicing those things. Often that means not “because of” but “in spite” of our circumstances.

I don’t know why God lets some people of great faith struggle and some miserable people live large. When you start questioning God, you might want to read the book of Job. When Job goes down that path, God basically says, “Who are YOU to question ME?” Can you create life? God asks.

Consider: would you want to believe in a “god” so small you could understand him? I believe we can know God, but I don’t believe we can completey understand God. I believe in physics and I don’t completely understand that subject, and furthermore the smartest physicists don’t complete understand it either. We know a great deal about physics, but we don’t know everything. It would be a small god and limited creator indeed if my human understanding were enough to figure him out. In effect, that would make me equal to God in at least one dimension, and believing oneself to equal to God is delusional.

I think CNN could pick just about any belief system and find some high level leaders or CEOs who buy into it. Being successful doesn’t necessarily make one right or even smart.

So to me, the question of faith is more importantly about what kind of person it makes you. And being a better person is, I hope, a worthwhile goal we can all agree upon.

March 25, 2007

Three Things Your Competitors Can’t Prevent

Filed under: Selling, Success, Customer Service Strategy — Mark Sanborn @ 1:21 pm

Your competitors can cut their price, say negative things about your product or company or spend more money on advertising than you can, but here are three things they can’t prevent you from doing:

1. Working harder

2. Thinking smarter

3. Serving better

All three of those strategic behaviors are completely within your control.

An Every Day Hero

Filed under: Difference Makers — Mark Sanborn @ 1:18 pm

Late last night, United canceled the last flight of the day from Charlotte to Denver. I got in line with 80 other passengers to book rebook a flight for the next morning, and to get my hotel voucher for the night. There were two little boys–unaccompanied minors–connecting through and I noticed a female passenger waiting patiently with them.

I was near the front of the line and it still took me nearly an hour to get to the counter. During all this time, the woman, whose name I learned was Kelly, played with the kids, reassured them and called their parents to update them about what was going on. United was jammed with the rest of the flight and certainly weren’t ignoring the children, but Kelly saved the day.

Eventually a United representative took the kids to the hotel and stayed with them.

The next morning, we all showed up at the airport. Kelly reconnected with the kids and entertained them all the way to Denver. She was flying on to meet her husband for some vacation on the west coast.

I was so impressed with her spirit of service I had to tell her. “There is a special place in heaven for you,” I said. Kelly was modest. “I’m just a mom, and I know how I’d feel if it were my kids.”

Despite her modesty, nobody is ever “just” a mom. And in addition to being a great mom, Kelly is a wonderful example of an unselfish difference maker. She’s an every day hero.

March 22, 2007

Good and Evil are Neighbors

Filed under: Observations — Mark Sanborn @ 8:58 am

While watching CNN this morning, two stories stood out.

In the first, two police officers risked their lives to rescue someone from a burning wreck. They were appropriately called heroes.

In the second, video captured a sickening attack on a woman by an off-duty male police office. The woman was a bartender, and the huge coward beat her savagely.

This astounding juxtaposition illustrates a fact of life: good and evil are neighbors.

The Death of Decorum

Filed under: Observations — Mark Sanborn @ 8:53 am

Are we really so busy that we need to use our cell phones in public restrooms?

And if it doesn’t bother someone to place or receive a call in such circumstances, might it not be off-putting to the other party on the call?

The larger issue is called “dumbing down.” We become increasingly insensitive to inappropriate behavior the more we are exposed to it or exhibit it. What was once considered indecent becomes crass then simply unpleasant and finally accepted.

Of course decorum is, in large part, a personal choice. Let’s try to keep it alive.

March 21, 2007

Whatever Happened to “Extreme”?

Filed under: Uncategorized, Observations, Selling — Mark Sanborn @ 2:26 pm

A few years ago, “extreme” was one of the most used (overused) words in our cultural vocabulary. Marketers used it excessively to describe everything from products to experiences.

With the exception of references to sports in the X Games, you don’t hear the word as much these days. Why is that?

Extreme is hard to deliver on. Much of what was coined extreme wasn’t. Borderline excessive maybe. More than usual perhaps. But extreme, not.

Extreme is over-the-top, and is synonymous with “ultimate.” While many aspire to the extreme, more often than not, they are ill-equipped to handle it. Many who posture themselves as extremists are more appropriately posers.

Extreme is hard to maintain. Run an engine at extreme levels for very long and it will burn up. The same is true of human physiology. Even the elite athletes can’t operate at extreme levels very long.

What I think–and this is just an opinion–is that what the “extreme marketers” were trying to promote was the superlative, the significantly above average, the different or the really, really good. The problem is that moderation doesn’t sell as well as exaggeration, hence the fixation on the extreme.

In a world of extreme pressures and challenges, my guess is that most people have accepted reality and mellowed out a bit. The extreme, they’ve found, wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be. Extraordinary, excellent or even good are all easier to deliver, and probably just as satisfying in the long run.

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