Retweet: Three Words That Will Transform Your Career

Today we’re going to take a little different spin.  

Personally and professionally, I find a lot of value in LinkedIn.  I love seeing what kinds of articles people post.  Yesterday, I came across a quick read by Bruce Kasanoff (entrepreneur, writer, speaker) that really has a great message that we need to remember and act on (often).  As it’s short and to the point, I will post the entire article below or you can click on the link here to access it on LinkedIn.  Enjoy!

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Three Words That Will Transform Your Career

Every time you encounter another person, think: help this person. It’s not altruistic. Nothing else can so quickly supercharge your career and improve the quality of your life.

When you walk into Starbucks for a coffee, think help this person about the barista who serves you. Instead of being frustrated that he isn’t moving fast enough, see if you can make him smile. Better yet, tell him to keep the change.

When the phone rings on a busy day, don’t get frustrated by the interruption. Think help this person while you answer the phone. Doing so will change your demeanor, your thought process, and the entire interaction.

If you have a subordinate who isn’t pulling her weight, instead of criticizing her, every time you see her think help this person. This doesn’t mean let her slide, or ignore her shortcomings. It means help her either improve her skills or find a position better suited to her strengths. But don’t just brush her aside; really help her.

But wait a minute – I know what some of you are thinking. What about the people who take credit for other people’s work? What about the rich and powerful who have gotten that way by crushing others? Doesn’t their success prove me wrong?

Not at all. Sure, there are some people who take the exact opposite strategy. But it takes real skill and focus to succeed by being evil, and most of us just don’t have the fortitude to pull it off. For those of us with a soul and a heart, the only real choice is to succeed by helping others.

By first thinking help this person, you will change the ways that others perceive you. There is no faster or more effective way to change your interactions and relationships. You will be viewed as a positive, constructive, helpful and dependable person. People will think you are more perceptive, attentive and understanding.

That’s why this way of thinking is not altruistic; it is selfish, in the best sense of the word. The single best way to help yourself is to always be looking for ways to help other people. Sure, you’ll be making the world a better place, and in the course of your life you will help many thousands of people. But don’t do it because you ought to, or because it’s the “right” thing to do.

Think help this person because you’re selfish, and proud of it.

There Is Hope!

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the Mi Futuro mentoring program graduation. 

For those of you unfamiliar, Mi Futuro (which means My Future in Spanish) is an 8th Grade mentoring program that was started three years ago spawned from an idea shared by a couple Walmart Associates.  Volunteer mentors from  Walmart/Sam’s Club spend one hour a month with a group of handpicked students over the course of their school year.   They discuss topics ranging from goal setting, to public speaking, to high school prep, to college prep and beyond.  The goal is encourage the students to think broader and more positively about their future.

This is the third school year we’ve done this.  And the program has grown extensively, much to some Associate leaders’ vision and dedication.   The first class started with one school and 26 students.  This year, there were 8 participating schools with 13 mentoring groups and over 300 students participating in the program.

Initially, the program was targeted at Hispanic students that showed promise, but were at risk (whether due to family situations, social influences, etc.).  The program now represents total school demographics, but still targets those same promising students that are at risk.

Next year, the goal is to reach over 1,500 students and have over 50 schools represented across the United States.

The reason I write all of this comes down to a couple statements made by students during the program.

First, the self awareness of these students was a little surprising to me.  While talking about the program and her future, one of the students said, “I don’t want to get lost in the crowd.”  Then she continued on to talk about her dreams and how she was going to succeed.  Her determination was admirable!  It was a proud moment for every mentor in the room.

Second, and perhaps more impactful, was a statement made by one of the students from the first year of the program.  We had three students from the first year (now sophomores in high school) talk about the impact of the program on them and the lessons learned from their two years of seniority over the kids in the audience.  This student, who was the least formally dressed of the three, who started every sentence with “I guess…” said something incredibly profound.  He said, “I will be the first to go to college from my family.”  Then he said, “I want my little brother to follow in my footsteps.

This statement took my breath away and made tears well up in my eyes.  Here is a sophomore in high school that was mentored and is now mentoring and setting an example for his little brother.   This is what it is all about.

In that moment, it was clear that this precious investment of time that the mentors provide these students is making a difference.

Often when we talk about mentoring at work we’re thinking about either our own professional development and/or how we are developing others in their positions or skills (which is important!).  Rarely though do I hear about people developing our next generation on a continuous basis.

But, as we get older, we realize how fast the time goes and we start to see the bigger picture.  If we don’t take the time to mentor, develop, grow, shape, and inspire our future generation what will the future hold for our society?

The good news?  There is hope!  I saw it and heard it yesterday.

My challenge to you is to find time to invest in the upcoming generation on a continuous basis.   Whether it’s Mi Futuro (for you Walmart/Sam’s Club associates), the Boys and Girls Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, a church youth program, or some other youth program – INVEST in the future of a child.  If we all joined in this investment just imagine what the future could hold.  There is great hope in our future!

Will you rise to the challenge?

Thanks for a Great 2011!

Thank you everyone for a great 2011!

This was the first year of the Leader’s Locker! And its been a great time!

After plenty of posts, thousands of views, tweets on Twitter, followers on Facebook, and links to LinkedIn – I can honestly say…we’re just getting started!  There are big plans in store for 2012 to help you be a more insightful, impactful, and audacious leader!

As a quick recap – the top 5 posts of the year were:

  1. Are You Wasting My Time?  – March
  2. Is That the Best You Can Do?  – July
  3. How Do They Describe You?  – July
  4. When a Great Leader Leaves  – April
  5. Calling an Audible  – November

Thank you for taking time to read and contribute to the Leader’s Locker!  I wish you successful leading in 2012!

Happy New Year!

~Jason

Put Some Jingle in Your Jangle!

I love this time of the year!  It’s so much fun!

Festivity abounds through the sights and the sounds; the giving and goodwill; the camaraderie of colleagues, family, and friends; and, well…..this time of year just makes me feel really good.

And for many of you, I bet this time of year makes you feel good too!

However, the holidays are not time to sit back on our leadership laurels and simply soak up the merriment and cheer.

It is the time for leaders to lead more than ever!  It’s time to put some pep in your leadership step.  Some extra glide in your leadership stride.  Some jingle in your leadership jangle!

“How do I do that?” you ask?

Here are 4 ways:

  • Set the Tone!  All year long, your teams look to your example for how to act.   I was about to say that this time of the year is no different, but that’s not true.  It’s very different.  This is the time of the year that is filled with all kinds of extra activities and demands on time – and quite frankly, your folks are going to be looking to you even more for what’s acceptable and what isn’t.  Should they go to the Divisional Christmas party or do they stay at their desk and work?   Should you go to the team charity event or not?  Should they pass out Christmas cards and gifts to each other?

You (the leader) need to set the tone for how to act and engage during the holiday season.  If there are rules to be followed, then say so and be clear and consistent.  Demonstrate the acceptable behavior.  For the good of the group, you may have to get outside of your own comfort zone to set the proper example (e.g., go to the department holiday party so that they know it’s okay to attend – even though you’d rather sit alone in your Grinch cave drinking eggnog by yourself).

  • Don’t get distracted!  While everyone may be worried if Santa Claus is coming to town or not, it’s not time to lose focus on what needs to be accomplished at work.  Set expectations and clearly communicate with your teams what needs to get done (and when) during this frenzy of activity, parties, parades, events, and vacations.  Without being Scrooge, help guide your teams to find the balance in their hectic schedules to make it all work.  Lead by example and make sure that you are getting your work done too!
  • Be highly observant!  While the holidays are generally a time of joy for most, there are those that may be struggling.  It could be that they miss their friends or family.  Or they have lost a loved one that won’t be there this year during the holidays.  Or maybe they are struggling financially to make ends meet for their family.  Regardless of the circumstance, you as their leader need to discern the situation and be sensitive to their plight.  It’s time to show compassion and care.  It’s time to provide encouragement and support.  Be a good shepherd and keep watch on all of your sheep!
  • Spread Joy!  This is one of the most important components of holiday leadership!  It is time to inspire and spread joy!  One of the best things you can do during this time of the year is share a smile, laugh, or word of encouragement or appreciation with those around you.  I wrote an article this last April that fits perfectly here.  Click here to learn 5 Ways to Spread a Little Joy!

What other ways can you step up your leadership game during the holiday season?

Steve Jobs: Don’t Settle

As my daughter and I were getting ready to leave the soccer fields tonight, my iPhone buzzed.  It was a text from our local news station letting me know that Steve Jobs had passed away.

When I arrived home, I grabbed my Mac Book Pro and sat down in our family room to surf for some more news about the tragedy.  As I looked around the room, my wife was on her iPhone, my 8 year old was playing on her iPod, and my 3 year old was watching a movie on our iPad that she launched from iTunes.

It was a profound moment of realization at the impact of what this one visionary had created.

Jobs was a visionary.  He created things that will impact us for generations to come.  He laid an amazing foundation from which even greater innovation will come.

He didn’t just create things that we wanted.  He was able to create things we never dreamed about.  Things that stretched imagination.  Things that made our lives better.

But why?  How?

Then I found it.  Buried in an interview he conducted somewhere along his journey, two little words.

“Don’t settle.”

He didn’t settle in the way he designed and innovated.  He didn’t settle when he was losing millions of dollars in Apple.  He didn’t settle when the naysayers were their loudest.  He didn’t settle when there was an easier path.  He didn’t settle in developing a great culture and company.  He didn’t settle in developing others.  He didn’t settle when it came to his customers.

He didn’t settle…       …and ended up doing the impossible and building the improbable.

Interestingly, he also said, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

And it’s through this relentless pursuit and passion that he created a legacy that will live for decades ….perhaps forever.  He was inspirational.

There are many leadership lessons to learn from the life of Steve Jobs.  But for now, I will simply say we will miss him.

What kind of legacy will you leave?

2 Million Smiles

Today was the annual Shareholder’s meeting for Walmart. The event is always a spectacle to behold.

About 20,000 people descend on Northwest Arkansas to attend the Friday Shareholder’s meeting after a week of all kinds of events. The entertainment is first rate and our executives are in top form as they rally the crowd.

Associates travel in from all over the globe and bring a vibrant enthusiasm to the venue. In fact, they are still fired up! I’m sitting here in the airport terminal writing this post and I’ve heard at least 3 loud Walmart cheers in the terminal where they are waiting to depart and return to their homes.

It was in one of the Shareholder Meeting presentations that I heard something that has been rattling around in my head all day.

It was a quick comment. You would have missed it if you weren’t paying attention. Here it is:

“If one person smiles it’s contagious. If 2.1 million people smile, it’s an epidemic.”

They were speaking in reference to our corporate culture and of the 2 million plus people that make up our great company.

What it meant to me was that one person doing something great makes a difference locally. A group of people doing something great has the power to change the world.

As leaders, we should always be cognizant of our actions and strive to positively impact those around us; even with something as simple as a smile.

But as leaders, we should also be building our organizations to make a positive difference. We do this through the culture that we build, the environment we create, the expectation we set, the people we develop, the emphasis we place on what’s important, and the example that we provide.

As leaders, we need to focus closely on both. Be contagious. Start an epidemic. Make a difference. Transform the world. Smile.

Enjoy!

~Jason

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