Back to Blog
This week, I hosted and facilitated a strategic conversation with business owners, entrepreneurs, and executives of associations and service programs in Central Alberta.
Riding the waves of recovery is a fascinating subject, but combined with the insights of surfing, it generated more visual appeal than anything related to riding on the waves. I am not a surfer by any means but there are clear and compelling insights about surfing that can be applied in business and life.
For beginners, you need to consider the following:
1. Health- you need to be in good shape, young and old can quickly adapt to the physicality of the sport. Some sports like snowboarding and swimming are already in the league . In business, your fundamentals must be in good shape. If 'cash is king,' know how to get short-term cash by extending your value to your customers, increasing your offering, and getting better at repeat business.
2. Skills and capacities-you need to be a good swimmer to be safe and have fun doing the sport. Knowing your capacity will help you upgrade your skill and learn to remediate. You can't fake your way into the game unless you have the capacities to deal with different scenarios, starting small and learning as you go. Same is true with business owners who do not have the basic skills in marketing, branding, asking for the sale, and management of key staff and assets. Do you have the right team aboard? Do you keep abreast of current trends and information about your target markets?
3. Go where the waves are-go where the waves are but stay away from crowded areas. You need to go where there are less people to practice your work and allows for quick feedback that can improve your performance. Staying safe and having fun while learning is the best environment. In tough economic times, look for opportunities that are occasionally missed because they are not 'sexy' or normally considered a profitable segment or niche.
4. Best tools you need-is it for gliding and recreation or is it for meeting big waves? There are tools you need to be able to perform properly and optimally. Some of these are equipment and tools and some are expert advisors you need to have so that you get the best information that is catered to your unique needs.
5. Judging the opportunity- a skilled surfer they say should be familiar with waves, how they are produced, the effect on the ocean, and the kinds of safety measures you have to do to maneuver into situations that are not expected. As Dixon would say, "surfers are alert for the unexpected at all times." Experienced ones can be on top of the waves one minute and can stay back, holding their ego in check when conditions are not favorable.
Riding the waves of recovery is a science and an art in itself. Instead of accepting that a wipeout is looming and that you will be at the bottom of the ocean again, consider using these strategies to take control and navigate the complexity of the situation on your advantage. Positivity as a mindset is contagious that it can create a better environment for your team and your workplace.
Back to Blog
As professionals and workers in the marketplace, we put our best selves forward many times until we hit a breakthrough and get better at our craft. We continue to pound the pavement, get through the adversities, and refuse to be intimidated by we call the 'baptism of fire.' As the saying goes, if you are not failing, you are not trying enough.
Well said. But your next best hit is something that is totally unknown to you. Artists, professionals, experts would say time and time again, that they don't know why did their career moved to the direction unbeknownst to them. It as if, the fate, the universe, or the invisible Hand had guided the opening of certain doors and the closing of some.
We can always improvise but there is no way to predict the outcomes of certain projects, initiatives, plans, and situations. We can be persistent which is a good substitute for talent and innate abilities. To do that, would mean to be able to prepare in high season and in low, monotonous cycles where no one seems to care. It is that instance, that we gear up for the inevitable, the crashing of walls of resistance, the slow-motion towards the fulfillment of goals, and the gratitude when success is imminent.
My high school journalism teacher said, "the higher the objective, the sweeter the triumph." The more difficult the task, the sweeter the reward. He prodded us to meet the challenges of difficult writing assignments and roles, beating the deadline, working on our drafts, preparing to write professionally and with passion, and being able to face corrections for our good. I still remember that teacher. He was a turbo-charged nudge, always ready to look at our first initial drafts (which were always not good!) without condescension. Our first school publication bearing our names in the editorial box was the first for me, the real meaning of 'credit.' You give credit where credit is due.
You must assume that success is not final and that failure is never fatal. You have to be skeptical about overnight, landslide victories and be equally level-headed when things don't go right for you.
Back to Blog
Not all opportunities are equal.
There are opportunities that are just right for your organization and opportunities that you should overlook because
1) it is not enough to be a sustainable venture;
2) it takes an enormous amount of time, effort, and monies to get it off on the ground and even maintain;
3) it doesn't represent your current wheelhouse and departing from what works could get you distracted and confused;
4) it is a fake opportunity, a carrot being dangled without the evidence of its real value and feasibility;
5) you are overreading into the situation.
Not all ideas are germane as business opportunities. Not all offers or interests should be taken seriously.
Test them diligently and be sure that they represent most viable vehicle towards your ultimate goals. Know the people that you are talking with or will work with and check their track record of success or achievement.
There are no shortcuts to careful thought and consideration of the issues that you weigh in. The real value versus the actual costs of making those investments including the time it will take to get it fully completed, should not be underestimated. Most of the time, new projects and initiatives collapse under their own weight putting too much at the beginning when it is important to be light on the foot and formless when things are in flux. If you are not the decision-maker, it is better to be flexible and adaptive, listening to counsel and opinions of those that can make it or break it.
Remember to be positively inactive when there is no need to take action, especially when the gains are far less than they tend to appear.
Back to Blog
Frustrated, defeated, and feeling that there are no options left but to quit?
This post is not about that, but when does quitting becomes an opportunity to get on track or refine one's vision of life, work, career, or business.
Quitting or the process of quitting opens up the possibility to give chance to reinvention and self-affirmation;
Quitting or the process of quitting clarifies your own contributions, the strength that you brought to the table and the qualities and assets that you can take wherever you go;
Quitting will identify who the real friends are and who aren't: they will provide the insights of your contribution without you asking them for it;
Quitting releases the drive to make the most of what you had and gathers the strength to move on with things that you want to continue building and enhancing;
Quitting earlier than later means that you are taking control and that frees you up to do the things that you love and want to do;
Quitting can be a dramatic exit which you can leverage in an organization where the stakes are high and you can make a big difference out of leaving;
Quitting does not mean that you will not try again in the future. It is not definitive as long as your reasons are clear and that you don't burn the bridges to future interactions.
Before you quit, ask yourself, how can my quitting helped me become a better person, professional, and entrepreneur?
Quitting isn't always a bad move! It can be the most liberating to do when you know how to bring the best out of a seemingly bad situation.
Back to Blog
Nowadays, people get told to build a brand, maintain a brand, and defend that brand.
If you an individual executive, a solo entrepreneur, a fledgling start-up founder, business coaches will tell you to build a brand.
A brand is a representation of quality and other great qualities in the mind of the consumer.
With all the hype and padding about brand and branding, the branding power doesn't take place in the context where there is no market at all, or where quality is suspect, or where the ability to deliver is almost nil. Branding activities cannot mask the lack of clarity in company direction, the lack of congruence with market realities, and the lack of executive presence in matters of great importance to stakeholders. It is also not helpful when the value proposition is unclear and undifferentiated. Forcing to come up with a brand without dealing with the fundamentals will be like forcing a cow to jump through a series of hoops.
Where branding helps when the public is unaware of what the product, service, or individual stands for value, and other good traits, what separates it from the herd, and what makes it an attractive force to belong to, to feel affinity with, to become a part of it network.
To work and maintain a brand is a lifelong activity that does not rest when you reach the zenith of success or great fortune. It has to be alive, well, and highly articulated in the noisiest corners of the marketplace. Despite the push to do the same marketing and branding strategies and follow the bandwagon, it is best to keep it to the most doable and simple that reflects your style and personality, without creating an enormous costs to maintain.
If its your personal brand, there are no wrong or right answers, only wrong and right questions to begin with.
Start with the fundamental why questions and you will begin to unravel those brand characteristics.
Back to Blog
An unexamined life is not worth living- Socrates
A lot of what happened in our lives, careers, and organizational lives happened for a reason. Some of these reasons were unbeknownst to us from the beginning. In hindsight, it unraveled with greater clarity. The speck in our eyes got dusted off and pretty soon, with honesty and candor, we began to search for real meanings.
The unexpected successes that we have cannot all be credited to luck. Luck is product of being in the right time, in the right place, presenting your best, in worst and glorious conditions. For example, walking along the cafeteria, you met an old friend and started having a conversation, and before you knew it, he gave you a piece of insight that helped you in your current project. Who would have thought that it could turn out that good? Not expecting it would be an understatement.
We live in an interconnected world that is hard to ignore. We are all part of the system, whether we like it or not. We belong to a small whole, that is part of a bigger universe and so on and so forth. Luck is being prepared when the right opportunity comes -- come snow or high water.
With that in perspective, it is easy to brush off a one-time issue, problem, or challenge. When it gets repeated with same results, you better get down to it. It's a pattern that can be corrected or if positive, maximized or that is a symptom of far greater thing you can't possibly handle all by yourself. You might need a telescope rather than a microscope. You might need a rheostat than a thermostat. You might need a nimble, light approach rather than CAT scraper.
Depending on the situation, examine your accidental prosperity, favor, or success. Let that give you the fuel to seek what is right around the corner, and seize the day with vigor.
Back to Blog
I was in the emergency part of the hospital again this weekend.
Triage system is applied in seeking medical treatment, in disasters and in other situations when there are limited resources for overwhelming need/severity of the condition. Sorting them into three groups: those people that cannot survive even with care and treatment, those that will have 50/50 chance of survival, and those that can be saved/can benefit from treatment and care. In the waiting room, there is a huge sign that says, it is not a first-come, first-serve basis but people who are hard in breathing, bleeding, and in life-threatening situation will be administered first.
Taking this out of the context of emergency and humanitarian situations, triage will be hardly useful except when practically applied in priority-setting.
What should be the number one priority for the year, which will have tremendous life-empowering impact to you, to your family, to your economy, and your career/organization?
What actions/activities you should discontinue doing because it has lost its value, become burden than a joy, and lacks the challenge you require?
What support systems would be required to get you on the right track to accomplish the 'priority of the year'?
In the larger schemes of things, our actions should be aligned to the most important objective, not on the "non-urgent and non-priority, good-t0-have."
Imagine what you are losing or giving away unintentionally when you don't do this at the beginning of the year?
Back to Blog
My three-year-old daughter claims that "she pressed the wrong button" and apologized for making a mistake or making a minor infraction. I don't know about you but I find this to be very apt.
We have a lot of buttons in front of us all the time. We try to press the right button but that doesn't mean that we do it with 100% accuracy. We do the balancing act: searching for understanding in light of uncertainty and complexity, looking for commonalities and broad-based agreements, pursuing the high road.
Understanding the right cues and contexts, and ensuring we practice empathy, active listening, and regard for others is always good at any situation. But sometimes, we misread people and situations, we overreact or become stone-walled, or sometimes react badly with the slightest provocation.
Making mistakes is part of our humanity in the context of many buttons. We have to stop incriminating ourselves, instead treat mistakes as a vehicle for learning and evolution. It is never fatal unless, it becomes an ego issue.
Defiance is better left to more substantive issues of the day.
Back to Blog
How do you welcome a new year?
-Do you make those silly resolutions that fail after two weeks?
-Do you jot down key goals and share these to your loved-ones and accountability partners?
- Do you start with positive attitude knowing that this year can be better than the last or exceed your expectations/
-Do you start a new habit right after the eve and pronounce war with resistance?
-Do you become cynical about making changes in your life that what you want to do is to just get ' that one thing done at a time?'
These are not trick questions meant to make you feel inadequate but to provoke you to consider adopting the road less travelled. The road less travelled is not easier but it works because you are not fighting against yourself or against the odds that are bent on crushing you.
It is about harnessing your greatest strengths because those things can elevate your performance from 'good enough' to 'excellent.' If you are good in writing, focus on writing. If you are good in marketing, perfect that marketing proof or that material you want to develop. If you want to have a stab at innovation, start leading an innovation camp within your organization. Don't try to be something you are not destined to be! Go where there is the natural flow and let that take you places you don't imagine exist.
Try to look at areas in your life that are not developed enough but have the potential to fulfill your spirit, increase your joy, build efficacy, and maintain your discipline. These areas are evidences that you can be better at something without going overboard and breaking your bank and back. Furthermore, this exercise can give you the added nudge to move in parallel to where your priorities are for the year.
You can only start from what you have, not what you don't have. Consider moving in areas where there is the least resistance and get a big dollop of satisfaction from accomplishing them.