Thursday, December 31, 2009

3 Simple Questions to ask in preparing for 2010

As 2009 comes down to the wire, I hope that you have had a chance to reflect on the past year.  I have enjoyed reading some other blogs about preparing for 2010 so I felt compelled to share my own preparation techniques.  This technique doesn't just work for New Year's goals or resolutions, but solving many problems you may face.  This is a tool introduced to me by my coach, Raymond Gleason of Building Champions.

To achieve the new goals you set, I ask myself the following 3 questions, in this order:
1)  What do I need to KEEP doing? - What are those things that you have done that have worked?  Be as specific as you can.
2)  What do I need to START doing? - Maybe there is something missing from your process that you need to add.  Again, be specific.  If you have a goal to lse weight, it doesn't help to say that "I need to start eating better."  It might be better to say: "I need to start packing my lunch three days a week to reduce fast food intake."
3)  What do I need to STOP doing? - Maybe the most important question to answer.  Because we only have 24 hours in a day, if we want to START doing things and don't STOP doing things, then we will become overwhelmed and likely not succeed.  Our KEEPs will suffer and our STARTs will be ineffective.  So, what are those things you need to STOP doing (even though they may be good things) so that you can achieve your goals.  The Law of Sacrifice says it best:  "You have to give up (STOP) to go up (Achieve goals)"

KEEP, START, STOP - It really is simple...and effective.

So, what are you going to KEEP, START, and STOP doing to go higher in 2010?

I wish you all the best in 2010.  I hope that this blog continues to add value to your life.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How are a Gas Balloon and Leadership alike?

I have been wanting to write about this for a while.  I recall sitting in my office early this year and drawing on a napkin a picture of a helium balloon with the sandbags on the side.  The science of a gas balloon is such that to fly higher," the pilot throws out ballast—like sand (sandbags)or water".  The picture for me included the sandbags on the side of the balloon.

To me, this science is very similar to a leader's desire to 'fly higher'.  While gas balloons need to let go of some of the weight (sandbags) to fly higher, so must leaders.  I know that there are many times I allow 'sandbags' to keep me from flying higher.  These manifest themselves in some of the weaknesses recently pointed out to me by my friends when I asked them directly for feedback:

1.  Creates self imposed limitations due to historical situations.
2.  Expecting too little of others
3.  Can get seduced by the "good guy" and lose sight of the impact on the overall vision
4.  Allowing others to take advantage of my time and my desire to help them succeed.
5.  Unjustified lack of self confidence

These self-imposed sandbags are ones that I vow to 'let go of' so that I may 'fly higher' in 2010 as a leader and so that I can have an even more powerful impact on those around me.  I would expect that my choices (and my blogging) in 2010 will support this desire.  I encourage you to ask me and challenge me on how I am doing with this goal. 

So, what are YOUR 'sandbags' that you carry around that keep you from flying higher? 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Is Notre Dame a prestigious program and/or head coaching job anymore?

Another disappointing loss for ND tonight. The tough part is listening to some of the prognosticators say that ND is not prestigious anymore...Does any other TEAM basically have their own national television contract? Can any other TEAM say that every one of their games is televised...every year? Can any other TEAM say that the biggest game their opponent plays EVERY year is the Notre Dame game? Notre Dame IS prestigious and Robert Smith (ESPN studio analyst) doesn't understand what he is saying when he says that Notre Dame can't afford a prestigious coach since Weis' buyout is so large.
Now, I do believe that Weis should forego a majority of the buyout since I believe he should be fired for 'cause'. Even HE said when he was hired that 6-5 just wasn't good enough! He's right. 6-6 isn't good enough, either.
Notre Dame IS a prestigious program. Notre Dame IS a prestigious coaching opportunity. Notre Dame WILL return to prestige in terms of the elite winning programs. 11 National Championships, 7 Heisman trophy winners. It's not just football...It's Notre Dame football!!!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't hold on TOO long

So, as I look at what the kids may want as a gift this year for Christmas, I am often amazed by technology and how it has changed how we learn.  I had been considering purchasing a guitar for my son.  Then, I saw this blog post by Tim Stevens with a new "iPhone app" to play the guitar.  Spend a couple minutes viewing this:

So, I can either buy him a new guitar and go through the pain of trying to force him to learn to play or finding a spot in the closet for another over-sized gift, OR I can purchase the app for his iTouch for $3.99.  Now, I know all of the comments:  It is more important for him to learn how to play the guitar rather than just hit buttons on a phone...right?

Sure, and it's more important for kids to learn cursive than type in Word....
and it's more important to learn how to divide using long division rather than using a calculator...
and it's more important to read a book from a hardcover rather than purchase an e-Reader and read on my smartphone...RIGHT????  Maybe. 

So, what does this have to do with Leadership and Relationships.  I will tell you.  It is our TIME!  You see, as I have said in previous posts, our time is something that we don't manage.  We only have so much time.  AND, how much of it do we waste on 'stuff' and 'relationships' and 'worrying' ...on holding on to things that we want to get better if we just give it a little more time?

Well, at some point we have to say that our time is much more valuable for things like family and taking care of ourselves rather than worrying if our hand writing is perfect and if our 'friends' will be angry if we don't come to the Tupperware party.  My challenge to you is this:

1) Make a list of the things most important to you
2) Compare that list with what is on your calendar(handwriting, guitar playing, Tupperware parties, figuratively speaking)
3) Where there is a match, leave it there
4) Where there is a dis-connect, make a choice - Either it needs to be on the list of #1, OR you need to Let it go...Not so easy. 

So, I think I may take up the electric guitar with all the time I am going to free up...

Have a great weekend, friends!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Who is going to write YOUR name on THEIR list?

The following is info that I did not create.  It was something that I learned and have subsequently 'SWIPE'd(Steal With Integrity Practically Everything) becuase of the meaning it has for me.  I saw this first in a book by John Mawell Titled "There's No Such Thing As Business Ethics".  I received it again over the past week from Jim Karger, a friend, mentor, and colleague who pens the blog "CrediblyConnect"  ( .

In essence, the exercise goes like this, you don't have to write down the answers, just ponder them for about 30 seconds for each question.
1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.
4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress...
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

How did you do?  Not really that easy, is it?

Now, answer this question(I want you to WRITE the answer to this question!):
Name three people who have had a positive influence on your entire LIFE?  Depending on who is reading this, that is likely at LEAST an average of 40 years.  The questions above only ask you to answer questions for the past 10 years at the most.

Much easier, right?

And the point is...we tend to not remember POPULAR people, but we DO remember those who made a difference in our lives because they cared.

Now, first action item.  Take a look at your list of people who have made a difference in your life.  I want you to choose one and tell them Thank You.  Write them a note(not an email, a HAND WRITTEN note...oh, the pain!) and let them know that you appreciate that they made a difference in your life.  It may be someone you haven't seen in 20 years.  That's OK.  If you are reading this, you have access to the internet.  Ever hear of a site called 'Google'?  Go find them.  If they made a diference in your life, then take the effort to find their address.  You will feel great that you did that and they will appreciate hearing from you.  You never know.  It may re-kindle an old friendship.

Finally, I want you to ponder one more question about this exercise:  Who is going to write YOUR name on THEIR list?  If you can't think of anyone immediately, then maybe you need to start making a difference in someone's life in a postive way....TODAY.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


A word that should be BANNED from every day conversation.

Have you ever been in the middle of what you feel is a VERY important conversation with someone and you ask "What do you think?" Their response "Interesting" - WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Or, here is a recent one.  I have an important meeting coming up in a couple weeks where I will be presenting an important change.  I receive the agenda and a pre-emptive "This ought to be interesting! ;o)"

I know I am guilty of using this word too much as well.  I use it to describe something that I am just not sure how to respond to.  I use it too often if I haven't been paying close enough attention, or I use it when you ask me what I think about your new shirt.  uh-oh.  Now you will know....

Anyway, I am sure there are times that the word 'interesting' is used in a very polite and genuine way; however, I believe it is used MORE to simply end a conversation and shows the other person I may not be thoughtful enough to tell them what I really think.

Don't you find this interesting?  (KIDDING!!!)

So, when was the last time YOU used the word 'interesting' in a conversation and when you used it, did you really mean it? 

I bet you think about it the next time you say it.  I can hear it now...That $^%^ Gallagher.  I'll give him interesting next time I see him!!!  Leave me your answer by clicking ont he comment below.

Have a great weekend y'all

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Book Review - Love & Respect

I just finished reading Love & Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs.

I picked this book up while walking around Family Christian Bookstore one day and I have to admit that at first, I bought it more for my wife than me! Then, as I started it, I was reminded of a verse from Matthew 7:3 - "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's(wife's!) eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"(NIV) - OUCH! I also had seen a review done by Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing, on his blog about the book.

The theme of the book revolves around the often mis-interpreted book in the Bible - Ephesians, and specifically verse 5:33 "However, each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." (NIV). Ultimately, the author describes the problem as the Crazy Cycle:

So, after I got the big "plank" out of my own eye, I was ready to learn in the book.

It comes down to our basic needs:

1) The Love She Most Desires

2) The Respect He Desperately Needs

The author shares great stories from his seminars of husbands and wives looking for the answers. I found myself laughing out loud and reading parts to Chris, saying "Here we are...wait til you hear this." The most humbling ones were "Here I am. I know I do THIS one."

The author used acronyms as ways for husbands and wives to come off the crazy cycle. Men, here is yours: C-O-U-P-L-E = How to Spell Love to Your Wife.

C=Closeness O=Openness U=Understanding P= Peacemaking L=Loyalty E=Esteem

In each chapter, the author gave me all kinds of nuggets. And, ladies, he tried to help you as well with the acronym C-H-A-I-R-S

C=Conquest H=Hierarchy A=Authority I=Insight R=Relationship S=Sexuality

Now, this section was suggested just for the women, but I had to read it anyway. And, I nearly fell off the bed while reading one like when the author quips to the women, "Think about when you get out of the shower versus when he gets out of the shower. When you step out of the shower, he is all eyes, oblivious to everything else. But what happens when he steps out of the shower? You probably say something like, "Please stand on the bath mat." or "Be careful! I just waxed the floor."

I believe this is a great book for couples to read together to improve their marriage and really should be required reading BEFORE marriage. My takeaways included:

1) I need to be sure that I am showing unconditional love she desires all the time to my wife and not hold that love back if I don't feel like I am getting the respect I need

2) My kids are watching and when they are dis-respectful to their mother, it is likely because I am not showing her the love she deserves in front of them

3) The Bible is so clear on this topic of marriage. I sometimes have too big of a plank in my own eye to see it.

There are so many nuggets in this book, it easily gets my highest rating: a "10 out of 10" dogear rating. Now, I know I could give MANY of these books out, but I don't want anyone to feel I am telling them/hi,/her what they need to do. If you want to work to get off of the Crazy Cycle (by the way, it is always there. Nobody is perfect) and on to the Rewarded Cycle, then you should make the choice to buy this book and read it. If you make the choice, I know you will enjoy it! If you allow it, it could change your marriage and, thus, your life!

Are you ready to get off of the Crazy Cycle and on to the Rewarded Cycle?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Relationships and Green Bean Casserole

Where I come from, one of the favorite 'pot-luck' side dishes is 'green bean casserole'. We could debate all day long about who makes the best green bean casserole. Of course, I would say it was my wife, Chris, but she has never made it, so my next best vote would be Mom!! (Although, I am not sure she has ever made it, either!)

So, what in the world does Green Bean Casserole have to do with Relationships? It is very simple: When I 'hear'(or smell!) green bean casserole, I think of some of the times I have gotten together with friends in the past. I think of:
  • picnics at home with family
  • get togethers with college friends (Susan ALWAYS brought green bean casserole ;0>)
  • small group gatherings with friends from church
  • the day that Chris and I were baptized with friends in Fort Wayne, IN, when we formally and publicly professed our faith together

So, while it doesn't matter if I really LIKE green bean casserole, (I really don't. I prefer the pasta salad or the pepperoni rolls!) it is simply the memories made that are important and the fellowship/relationships I have built with friends over the years.

I'm hungry...

What is the comfort food that YOU always remember at your favorite gatherings? Does it bring a smile to your face to think about your favorite 'casserole' and the friends or family you spent time with while eating that food?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pocket Change - Everyone Communicates, Few Connect

If you can connect with others at every level—one on one, in groups, and with an audience—your relationships are stronger, your sense of community improves, your ability to create teamwork increases, your influence increases, and your productivity skyrockets. - John C. Maxwell Excerpt taken from the first chapter of his upcoming book titled: Everyone Communicates, Few Connect
For a sneak peak of each chapter, check out John Maxwell's blog.
Have a great week!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Is Social Media a 'Fad'?

I saw this video posted on another blog recently and wanted to share. If you have just 4 minutes, it is a GREAT snapshot of the impact of social media on our lives. I was really shocked by the data on how LONG it took for TV & Radio to gain an audience of 50 million users, compared to Facebook. Astounding.


Are you currently involved in 'Social Media'? If not, why not? Top reasons I have heard folks tell me why they are not:
1) Don't have time for it (250 million users of Facebook have the same number of hours in a day that you do!)
2) I don't want to put my personal info out there - Especially in Customer Service, the question is if you are not putting it out there, who is?)
3) It's too confusing to use - YouTube has over 100,000,000 videos(found this out in THIS video). Go there and search for How To ___________. You are sure to find it. Then, you don't have to 'embarrass' yourself and ask someone how!

If you area involved in Social Media, are you connected with me? If not, why not? Just click on the links at the side of this Blog post. I would love to stay connected with you.

Monday, August 24, 2009

That 'First day of school feeling'

Today was the first day back at another school year for our sons,Brendan (7th grader) and Joseph (5th grader). I know they were anxious, even thought they did not want to tell Mom & Dad that! We were anxious, no doubt.

Of course, we told them the story about how "When we were kids ________________." They rolled their eyes. Each year I make breakfast for them on the first day, too. This year, there was one eggo waffle request and a frozen sausage, egg & cheese muffin. Made it easy on me!!

The first day of school is a new beginning. Chances for them to get new clothes, new books, make new friends, and hopefully, learn a few new things. It should be a good calibration point for me. Generally, in life, there are not many 'First days of _______(school, job, etc.)." But, when there are, it tends to be exciting. It tends to be a learning experience. We get to meet new people.

So, if we are stuck in a rut, how do we make that "First day of school" feeling all over again? I need to ask myself that question. You see, today is the "First day" of the rest of your life( I didn't make that up. I am sure someone else said it!). What can you do to create that anxiousness, that excitement, that knotted up stomach feeling when you walk through the front doors? I need to create that feeling again.

Maybe I will go get myself a pair of new school shoes today! Have a great week, friends.

God, I pray that you watch over our boys this year at school. Introduce them to great opportunities, great friends/relationships, and keep them safe. I pray that you grant their parents wisdom, patience, and understanding. Help us all grow closer as a family this year. - Amen

Monday, August 17, 2009

Book review - Duct Tape Marketing

Recently, I completed the book Duct Tape Marketing by John Jantsch. It was a gift from a friend that I received about 4 years ago and really have just gotten around to reading it. I wish I would have read it three years ago when I made the choice to enter in to the real estate business.

This book is chalked full of pragmatic tips for putting together a marketing 'system' for your small business. I filled the front and back inside bindings with notes and ideas as they popped into my head while reading the pages.

I appreciated the author's definition of Marketing:

Getting people who have a specific need or problem to know, like, and trust you

I believe that definition is spot on for small business marketing. The book is broken out into 3 parts:

1) The Duct Tape Foundation

2) The Duct Tape Lead Generation Machine

3) Getting on a Roll - Finding out what 'sticks' and do more of it.

I implemented ideas he suggested and saw immediate results:

1)Webinars - We did a Webinar and generated three new leads and closed one in less than a week! Our average sales cycle is 4 months. Needless to say, we have another Webinar scheduled!!

2) Wake up the senses with an Image to Match Your Message - I updated the look of the header on our website and added this 'image' to our advertising, and marketing materials, and have already had comments about the improvements from potential clients. See some of the changes at

And, I used the book to help set new measurements for Sales & Marketing including: Lead generation numbers and Lead conversion rations.

I have shared this book with team members and look forward to using it as a guide to put together our marketing plan for the future. I highly suggest this book to small business owners looking to leverage their marketing. The book was published in 2006, so it just started to delver into how to use social media as well, but as you read it, you can visualize how to make improvements via blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and other creative ways to get your message out to as many prospects as possible.

This book gets a '10' on my dogear rating system. My highest ranking. If you can't find the ideas to help you improve your marketing system in this book, I don't know where you will find it!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Leadership and Cheeseburgers

I've done some blogging on Leadership and _________. Leadership at the Movies, Leadership and the Laundry Room, and even Leadership and Wetsuits.

I see these comparisons across many bloggers. Here is one I wanted to share due to my affinity with food by Thomas Schulte: On Leadership and Cheeseburgers.

Great points about 'the big cheese':

Do you project an image and back it up as well as cheese does to the burger ensemble?
Are you complimentary to almost any combination of team members that may be slapped together at a moment’s notice?
Do you bend and conform to situations when needed?
Do you have the internal integrity that allows you to authentically project wholesome goodness and an honest hardworking appeal?
Are you projecting a bright and sunny disposition that is nice to be around and experience?
Is your flavor definitive and distinct?
Do you work well with others no matter who else is involved in the equation?
Are you commanding a leadership place of recognition that is unmatched because of WHO you are and HOW you lead?

I will continue to share these in the future.

What is your leadership style most comparable to? Leadership and _____________.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Leadership at The Movies!

One of the favorite tools I like to use when presenting on Leadership is a movie. There are so many movies out there that have great Leadership principles embedded in them, so to speak. Maybe unknowingly, even.

I am preparing a presentation that I will do this week titled "What Got You Here...Won't Get You There". I will be using the clip below to chat about what it will take us to get from the 10-yard line to the "end zone". It is a clip from "Facing the Giants". If you have a few minutes, it is a good clip to watch.

Other movies I have used in the past include:
  • Dead Poet's Society - Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) - Make a Difference
  • Hoosiers - The Underdog and overcoming fear
  • Sister Act (Yes, Sister Act!) - Great parts for Identifying Strengths and Putting People in the Right Seats on the Bus
  • Miracle - Several great leadership stories in this movie, including Team before Individual, Standard Work, Passion
  • Who's on First - Communication skills!!

I know there are more that I have used and will use in the future. A couple questions for you as a leader:

  1. Is there a movie you have seen that has a great Leadership topic embedded in it?
  2. When you are watching a movie, are you 'watching' for that possible teaching moment you can use in the future?

Please share if you do. Also, if you have a few minutes, watch this clip below and let me know what Leadership Principles you see 'embedded' in it.

Have a great week!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pocket change - Good Government

"A wise and frugal government which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government."
- Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Don't burn bridges...

I had a recent non-WOW experience with a service company that has been disappointing, at best:

1) Company 'X' installed a lawn in my customer's home in December 2008 (knew there was no way yard would come in and agreed then he would need to come back in the spring to finish the job)

2) I call back in Spring and hear- "Soonest I can come out is a month" - Thus, we miss another good planting season.

3) Comes over does 'some' work...then leaves without finishing...regular ploy by several building contractors

4) Proceeds to push 'blame' on the a) homeowner, b) builder, and c) the excavator as to why the lawn didn't come in

5) Completes work (although he says he does "the best he can" on a $700,000 house). So, the homeowner wasn't happy. They basically give up and do some of the work themselves

6) Bills the wrong people

7) Sends me a SECOND notice with no terms.

8) 30 days later, his accountant calls me and proceeds to tell me her side and is prepared to turn me over to collections without even taking a breath! Guess she didn't want to hear my story at all.

9) She gives me the amount and says she will place the bill in my mailbox the next day

10) Next day, she hands the bill to my wife at the door: "John knows what this is!"

11) When I review it, I find that she has added a 2% late charge. No mention of that on the phone...OR any previous correspondence (2nd notice invoice with no terms).

Now, I am not totally innocent in the matter. I could have paid the bill immediately even though there were no terms OR I could have ASKED what the terms were when I got the second notice.

However, I am:

1) the Realtor in the sub-division who represents the developer of 225 acres

2) the Realtor who represents three other builders in the sub-division who will need to put in more yards over the next 15 years. You see, this development will be 150 home sites and thus, need 150 lawns. Only 12 homes have been built thus far.

3) a builder building a speculative home. I will need a lawn there and I need some lawn work done on my home as well. I had asked this gentleman early on if he had any interest in working on these two areas and he said 'yes' but did not follow-up with any interest.

4) a resident of the sub-division, so I will get to meet each future owner when they come in at the pool or their new home

5) thus, a potential referral machine for this organization in the future.

What are the lessons to be learned?

Business, like life, is relationships...the rest is just details. People do business with people they LIKE.

Don't burn bridges - life is too short. You don't know who you may need in the future. (or, don't tell someone the amount of an invoice over the telephone and then when delivering the invoice, add on a fee you did not previously discuss!).

Take responsibility for your own 'stuff' - don't play the 'blamestorming game'

First, seek to understand...then to be understood (the accountant clearly went the opposite direction)

I am sure there are more.

So, now I must find a new lawn installer...Can you suggest someone who can make it a WOW experience?
And, I probably need to be better at seeking first to understand. Where in my business am I burning bridges?
Do you have a non-WOW experience you want to share?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Are you "Peeing in your wetsuit?"

A friend of mine, Kim Chaney, once used an analogy in a meeting. He said "This is like peeing in a wetsuit. It feels kinda good when you do it, but you KNOW it's gonna chafe later on." I don't remember the exact situation we were in at the time, but I do know that I wouldn't soon forget it!

At the time, I believe he was referring to a situation where our group was doing something that may have been easier at the time(peeing in the wetsuit), but would not be better for us in the long run (chafing!).

In life, we are presented with these opportunities all the time where we have to make a choice as to the right action to take. It gets back to 'Discipline' - Doing WHAT you need to do...WHEN you need to do it...even though you DON'T want to at that time. You KNOW you should, in essence, take off your wetsuit!

I like to think there are ways to be more disciplined. Here are a few tips that I would suggest:

1) Write down your 'want' and look at it on a regular basis (hourly, daily, weekly). It is harder to avoid when you see it in writing.
2) Look for an accountability partner to help you. Ask a friend or mentor to periodically 'check-in' on you to see how you are doing with your 'want'. It is even more difficult (and embarrassing) to tell a friend or mentor that you have not been working on your disciplines!!
3) Pray about it. Ask God for strength.
4) Just do it! - You know you are going to feel better after you have completed the discipline. Why would you not want to feel better?

I am sure there are other ways.

Did you "Pee in your wetsuit today?" - What other ways are there that you have used to be more disciplined at what you 'want' so that you don't become "chafed" in the future?

Thanks, Kim, for the inspiration for this post. I had a a couple friends who nearly fell off their chairs laughing this week when I used the analogy in a meeting.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Building Stronger Relationships - Are you willing to sacrifice ...?

How many times to we have relationships where the deepest questions you get are "What do you think of the weather today?", or "What did you think about the game last night?" - These relationships are "miles wide and only inches deep" - Stan Buck in his Memorial Day message.

He challenges us with the question, "Are you willing to sacrifice to build strong relationships?"

Are you willing to sacrifice:
  • Time?

  • Superficiality?

  • Your own agenda?

  • Pride?

I could use some improvement in all these areas of sacrifice. My biggest area may be in the area of superficiality. It's easy to ask the questions about sports and the weather, but when someone asks you the question, "How are you doing?", how often do we say "fine", when we aren't really fine. And, turning it around, how many times do you ask that question of someone else? Maybe when you think about that question in our deeper relationships, we should be asking "How are you doing...REALLY?" and be prepared to sacrifice our time, superficiality, agenda, and pride, to REALLY listen to our closest relationships' needs and wants...

Who are you going to ask that question to this week: "How are you doing, REALLY?"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

How I Review a Book

A few times recently I have shared a book review with my 'dogear' rating system. I thought I would take a little time to talk about how I read a book.

First, my primary purpose for reading is Continuous Improvement so I tend to focus on books found in the Leadership or Management section at Barnes & Noble. Here are the steps I use:

1) I like to mark up a book, so I always have a pen handy when reading a book. I use the jacket cover as my bookmark during the reading process as well. Whenever I come across something of interest while reading, I highlilght the section and 'dogear' the page:

Upon completion of the book, I am able to visually see the impact of the book by turning it sideways:

2) I go back and review those pages I dogeared prior to writing the review. I remove the jacket cover and discard and the cover. I place the book on a shelf for future review and I like the look of the hardback cover versus the paper cover.

3) I write the review and post it on the blog. This(writing a review and posting on the blog) is new for me since I have only been blogging for about a year now.

4) I ask for feedback and will send the book to the first reviewer of the blog.

5) Frequently, I buy an extra copy to share with a friend who I think might benefit from the topic.

I know that this review has 'gaps'. For instance, there are several topics of leadership that the book may cover that I may not be able to get back to easily. John Maxwell talks of his notes in the front of the book and then he has his assistant make a copy and file under that topic. Just a few years back, my then assistant, Mary Cunningham, started an electronic file from this review process, but I found it to be time-consuming for her and I was not reviewing it regularly. With the number of books that Maxwell writes and speaking engagements he does, I can see the value in his process for sure!

Many of you may have heard of the Kindle and there are several reasons I have not yet purchased one:

1) Price prohibitive (Current Amazon price is $359) - the payback on a kindle with my reading habits (about 6 books per year) would be about 6 years. Technology changes too fast! Although, my reading would likely increase...

2) It is still new technology - I am quite sure that there will be better technology coming to the market soon that has more value.

3) Process I outline above - I can't visually see where to go back to the pages, although I am SURE that the Kindle would allow me to bookmark by topic and save so that I can refer back by topic. In essence, it combines my dogear with Maxwell's index card system. Given all that, I do believe I will eventually move toward the e-reader technology and would probably try out the Kindle now with a price point less than $100.

How do you review a book and go back to find the important points? Have you considered the Kindle?

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Book Review - The First 90 Days

I recently completed the book The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. It was a gift from my wife, Chris, for Valentine's Day. I don't know if it was a message or not - "New Leaders at All Levels" was who the book was designed to target. I had been in real estate for three years now!!!

In any event, I dove in head first and found this to be an insightful book for new leaders. The book starts out by defining the "Breakeven Point" for new leaders, which is defined as the 'Point' at which new leaders have contributed as much value to their new organizations as they have consumed from it. The average time that CEOs said was the time at which a new manager hit this point was 6.2 months (pg. 2&3).

The book attempts to outline a process whereas that time (6.2 months)can be accelerated and the success of new leades in their positions increased. When I heard there was a process, it made it an easy read for me as I tend to enjoy books that define processes to achieve a goal. This book was no different.

This book was not a one-size-fits-all either. The author identifies 4 different scenarios defined as STaRS (the a is actually supposed to be superscript!). S-Start-up, T-Turn around, R-Realignment, and S-Success and different challenges and opportunities with each scenario.

I found the book to be a little short on real life examples and the visuals to be a little complex; however, I feel this will be a good reference book for me in the future. During previous book reviews, I used my rating system based upon 'dogears'. How many pages did I 'dogear' for future reference? There were more than 10, so I would give this book a Top '10 dog-ear' rating. I recommend it to new leaders at managerial levels, AND I think this would be a good book for those who 'aspire' to move up in their organization or careers as well. During an interview, I believe MANY times you will be asked "What will you do in the first 30,60, or 90 days in your new role?" How great would it be if you could use the tips in this book as a way to answer that question?! It would impress me.

I would like to share this book with you. Be the first to a) comment on this post, b) subscribe to this blog via Reader or email, and c) commit to reviewing the book as a guest blogger when you complete it! I will mail you a copy of the book.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Leadership Lessons from the Laundry Room

Sometimes there are lessons from the Board room. Today, there are lessons from the Laundry Room. I am sure there are many lessons from different 'rooms' in our life. But, what does the Laundry Room have to do with Leadership?

1) You need to be a good Listener

Like the people you are leading, if you hear the funny noises, you better address it. If you ignore it, it will not go away!!

2) You need to be a good Planner - I know I shouldn't do laundry at home, but even I know that a) you don't put a wool sweater in the dryer, and b) you don't put a RED shirt in with the whites. So, it is important to plan. Put the right 'stuff' with the right 'stuff' for success.

3) Delegation is important - You need to know what you are really good at...and more importantly, what you are NOT good at! If you are not good at ironing, delegate it to the dry cleaner, or buy clothes that don't need ironed!

4) Procrastination is not a good option! - If you don't keep up with the day to day needs of leadership, the MOUNTAIN of laundry will build and build. Things will start to smell...resources will run out...

5) You must be a good organizer - Is there a place for everything and is everything in it's place for your stuff? When you need to find your 'fabric softener' for the dryer, it is not a good time to learn you can't find it when the washing machine is stopped.

I want to thank my coach, Raymond Gleason, for the idea for this post. We need to always be looking for opportunities to teach and lead, no matter where we are.

What am I missing from the Laundry Room? So, what room do you have Leadership Lessons from? Give me a room. I will identify the Leadership lessons' potential from that room.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ideal work week - What NOT to do is as important as the To-Do list

Recently, I blogged about what my 'ideal work week' would look like. One of the comments that came back to me from a friend challenged me to think about what NOT to do for the ideal work week and what did that list look like...Great challenge...So, I sat down and thought about it.

Here is what I came up with:

1) I will NOT worry about things I cannot control

2) I will NOT worry about others who don't take action for themselves

3) I will NOT allow 'Why me' (in terms of opportunities) to keep me from reaching higher

4) I will NOT allow others to plan my time for me.

My NOT to-do items tend to be inwardly focused and based upon worry. In today's economy, worry, can be the ultimate time 'vampire', sucking the energy right out of you. Easier said than done, but CHOOSE to NOT worry about the things outside of your control. I could use a dose of my own medicine on this one.
So, what are the things on your 'NOT to-do' list that you are doing and you need to stop doing to get to the important things?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Leadership Lessons from St. Patrick

Every year for the past 30 years or so, the Gallagher's have hosted friends & family for a St. Patrick's day party. This year was no different as over 100 of our friends gathered together in Follansbee, WV for fellowship and cheer.

What may get lost in the fun times are the reason for the celebration each year. St. Patrick was quite the leader. I found a cool article recently that chatted about how his forgiving spirit forged relationships in Ireland that brought many people to understand his faith and how he impacted an entire nation.
Click here to read the article.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pocket Change - Leadership Development

Pocket Change - "Find someone with the ability and willingness to learn, and then invest a lot of time in their lives." - John C. Maxwell

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pocket Change - "Don't bankrupt your leadership" - by John C Maxwell -

UPDATE - Expensive laundry - There has to be a better way!

Recently, I blogged about my Staples certificates going through the laundry. I promised an update and I am pleasantly surprised:

Dear John,
We have reissued your rewards. Please allow 7-10 business days to receive the new rewards in the mail.
Rewards can be used like cash at Staples - in store, online, or over the phone. Rewards do expire. Expired rewards cannot be reissued. Staples is not responsible for lost or misdirected postal mail.
If you have any additional questions, please contact us at or by calling 1-800-793-3320 Monday through Friday, 8:30AM-8:00PM EST.
Thank you,
Richard Conway
Staples Rewards Premier

Kudos to Staples for reissuing the certificates. When I replied to the email with a 'Thank you', this was the auto response I got:
Thank you for contacting Staples Rewards.
We are currently experiencing high contact volume; please expect a delay in our response.

The dangers of auto reply emails!! Oh well, now I can get that file cabinet in 7 to 10 days! I won't even bore you with my recent Dell service experience...It was good, but again, 7 to 10 business days before i get my laptop back!

Have any good customer service experiences you want to share?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Checklists (aka Standard Work) can improve productivity...and save lives

Both in manufacturing and real estate, I have harped on the need for Standard Work (the way we do things) - documenting it, posting it, measuring it, improving it - and there are a lot of folks who give me funny looks about it! Here is an article below(click on link to see) that discusses the importance of Standard Work (author refers to it as 'checklists') and that helped save the lives of those who landed in the Hudson River on a recent US Airways flight. Also, the article talks about how it is used in the emergency room to help save lives!

I have been itching to write a series of posts on the Continuous Improvement cycle, and this article has triggered that itch! Look for a series coming real soon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Expensive laundry - There has to be a better way!

Anyone know what this picture is?
This is what is remaining of $68 worth of Staples Rewards certificates that went through the laundry while in my pants pocket. A whole different kind of 'Pocket Change' that I have blogged about recently. Now, do you think Staples knows this is going to happen to a lot of their certificates? Maybe so, but there have got to be easier ways for them to hand out their bonus points:
1) How about sending them electronically since I do a majority of my purchases on line?
2) Just assign them to my Staples reward card and when I check out, it debits my account automatically?
3) How about just giving me the dicount up front rather than making me handle paper certificates?
4) Their easy rebates program send Visa debit cards. How about that?
Or, I could not put them in my pocket, or not FORGET that I put them in my pocket!!!!

The question I have is will they believe me and send me new certificates? I will report back and let you know if they refund me for airing my dirty laundry, so to speak!!

What is the worst thing that you have lost through the laundry????

Monday, February 23, 2009

Pocket Change

Great article on investing in relationships by John C. Maxwell

Friday, February 20, 2009

Pocket Change

What a profound post about deliberate practice.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pocket Change

What a great post I wanted to share from Michael Hyatt about 7 ways to keep your spirit up in a down economy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

'Pocket Change' and relationships

When Chris and I first got married, I brought along the "Bud Light" bottle bank when we moved to St. Louis. When we got some extra pocket change, we 'deposited' it in the bank. Over the first few years of marriage, we had enough Pocket Change that added up to buy a new TV, and have spending money on a trip that we made. Pocket Change can add up.

In relationships, we have Pocket Change. When I spoke to a group of college students a few years back, I used a story that I had learned about Pocket Change and relationships. You see, when we build relationships, we, in essence, build up Pocket Change. Each time we build a relationship - be affirming, write a note, even smile - we build up our pocket change in that relationship.

We can also lose that pocket change. When we lie, talk about someone behind their back, or don't keep a commitment, we lose that pocket change through a 'hole' in the pocket...and it's HARD to get it back. You need some help from someone, you reach in to your 'pocket' for some change and find the hole and only pull out lint! So, don't deplete your pocket change with your relationships due to lack of character, integrity, and trust. It takes a while to build it back up! But, when you do build up your Pocket Change, the payoff can be enormous!!

With this post, I am going to start a snippet on Pocket Change - small leadership tips, quotes, stories, that I hope can add value to your life.

So, is your pocket change building up, or is there a hole in your pocket?!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Leadership and Winnie the Pooh

Last Sunday at church, the most effective message was done at "Children's Time" by our music director. While she spoke to the kids, she REALLY spoke to the adults and the leaders in the church. She asked if we were Winnie The Pooh "church goers". Replace church goers with whatever word you want: leaders, parents, co-workers, employees, etc.

Are you Eeore? If Eeyore were to lead, he would sabotage his chances for success so that he would have something to complain about. Eeyore worries in advance of a happening and complains about it when it has happened

What about Tigger? Tigger is eager and enthusiastic, he greets the world with extraordinary confidence. Many people would say he’s a natural born leader; however, he thinks he can do everything, and his over-confidence and ego keep him from evaluating his actions in terms of accomplishment. As a result, he can jump and thump, thinking he’s helping out when, in fact, he’s only making a mess.

Then there is Pooh, who accepts who he is and allows others to function as they are!
Pooh doesn’t worry about motives, politics or what others will say. Instead, he simply proceeds with the task at hand, doing his best to accomplish what he has set out to do.

For a more detailed article on the leadership lessons of Winnie the Pooh, click here.

In any event, we can learn a bunch from these characters. So, which one are you???? I hope you choose Pooh (the character, that is!). I bet you won't watch the show the same anymore.

Is holding an open house at 5064 Fox Ridge Road in Hunting Hills from 2 to 4 - Stop by!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

is trying a new service to be able to update status on all social networks with . We shall see how it works

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Muscial Inspiration - Do it Anyway

While getting ready for church today, I was watching CMT and saw this video for "Do it Anyway" by Martina McBride. What an inspiring video! Everybody has a story and everybody has an 'I want'. Take a few minutes to watch the video and it will become clear. So, What is your 'I want'?

Music is one way that I find inspiration. I hope this inspires you.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our 44th President

Today, we have a new President in office. I have struggled with the words to describe my emotions as I watched, but I think Mike Huckabee said it well in a post he put out shortly after the inauguration:

With Prayerful Hearts
Today at 1:21pm
As of this afternoon, we have a new President. I had hoped that the 44th President would be a guy named Huckabee, but that didn’t happen. I don’t lament the results of the election, I celebrate the process of our great Republic that gives us the privilege and responsibility of voting and choosing our leaders.I have stated repeatedly that I will pray for the new President in the same way that I would have desired for my fellow citizens to pray for me had I been successful. I know that some, even on this blog, have been hesitant to commit to pray for and support the new President. I believe that it is my Christian duty to respect the office, to honor the process that led to the selection of the President, and to seek to put my country and its best interest above that of my party or even myself. I might find myself in disagreement in some of the policies that President Obama puts forth, but I will express my disagreement in the spirit of respect and civility that I wish had met President Bush when his critics disagreed with him.Today, I am above all an American. A proud one. Proud that we have transitioned power without soldiers, bayonets, or bloodshed. I celebrate America. Now, the task is to stand more firm than ever in the convictions that life is precious and is the basis of liberty. I will work to elect good men and women to help shape this nation. It will be a long journey. I hope you’re ready to join me.Prayerfully,Mike Huckabee
I will do my part as an American to honor the position of the President, pray for him and our other leaders, and hope for real change in these tough times.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Problem finders vs. Problem Solvers

Here is a great article that I read today on Problem solving. As leaders, we will face problems. The question is, How will we respond to those problems?

Be a problem solver, not a problem finder!

Click here for article

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Book Review - Love is the Killer App

Don't let the title fool you. I was not reading a romance novel, but rather a book by author Tim Sanders titled Love is the Killer App.

I read this book on a suggestion from a friend as it was first published in 2002. I found the book to be an easy read. I appreciated the way in which Tim outlined three ways to win business through: Knowledge, Network, and Compassion.

Our tasks as business people is to gain more business, especially in today's economy. But, not just to get business - but KEEP business over the long term. Tim does a nice job defining these things. For example, to keep customers long term, you must add value to them. He defines added value as: "The value with you inside a situation is greater than the value without you". He also defines the people who do this "love business" (the act of intelligently and sensibly sharing your intangibles with biz partners) as 'Lovecats'. Don't know that I want to be called a lovecat, but he gets his point across.

Some key takeways from me in this book:

Knowledge is important, but you can't add value if you don't SHARE it!

Your network's value is equivalent to the square of the number of people in it. Again, though, it must be SHARED

Compassion is the glue that holds the Knowledge and the Network together. It is the way we will win hearts and influence people in today's world.

I really enjoyed this book and intend to share it with others. If you would like to have a copy, let me know. I'll send one to the first person who responds to this post!

In my last review, I shared my rating system as 'dogears'. How many pages did I dogear to go back and search the key action points available? Love is the Killer App gets a 9 dogears rating (out of 10), so I highly suggest this read.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Is there such thing as an ideal work week?

My coach asked me to draft up a new 'ideal' work week for 2009. What a challenging exercise! I have only been trying this time block thing for about 5 years now, and there is always room for improvement. I even tried this with the kids and post-it notes, and that was somewhat successful.

One of the biggest differences in my real estate career thus far, compared to manufacturing has been the lack of structure. I have worked hard trying to force the structure and have had to make adjustments in many ways. But, there are still things that need to happen every day and every week and every month to achieve my goals. So, I have added a daily productivity review and weekly productivity review.

Daily @ 10:00 p.m.:
Email inbox to zero (yes, it is possible)
Review Google/reader (blogs I follow)
Review voice mail
Read book


Weekly on Monday mornings @ 9:00:
Team weekly task
Review supraekey data (showings of our listings)
Load in open house contacts
Care cards (2 minimum)
Clean out Read, Answer, File emails
Sync blackberry
Add in new phone numbers
Review coaching journal, notebook, post-its for activities needed added to task list or completed.
Review Top Producer(contact and listing plan manager) tasks for any past due items on calendar

Of course, there are many other items in the list (family time, exercise, meetings, etc.), but these seem to be the items I need to get done on a very regular basis to stay ahead and continue to grow.

A lot of folks would refer to this as too 'structured', but this seems to be how I am wired and most productive. Certainly, I am not naive enough to believe that these things will happen 100% of the time at the same day and time, but it is my shot at an ideally productive week.

How do you organize your time? What am I missing?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Proud Papa - Joseph serves as Honor Guard before NCAA championshilp game

Joseph was in the Southwest County newspaper this week here in Roanoke

Click here to see - He is the scout with the tan shirt on in the middle of the photo behind the VA state flag!

Way to go Joseph!!