Newsletter: When we make things too complicated…

September 3, 2014

Joe Calloway points out…

When we make things too complicated.

One of my clients, the CEO of an international agriculture business, said, “The price we pay for making things too complicated is immeasurable. It slows us down, makes for bad decisions, and scatters our efforts.”

Think about those three parts of the “price we pay” for making things too complicated:

1) Making things too complicated slows us down.

In today’s world if we don’t move quickly opportunities disappear in the blink of an eye. The inability to focus and simplify means we will overthink our decisions, going back and forth with pros and cons and new considerations that we continue to add to the pile. Simplicity and focus enable us to make decisions more quickly. That’s a competitive advantage.

2) Making things too complicated makes for bad decisions.

In your experience, which solutions are the most effective? Which ideas are most likely to create success? The complicated ones? Or the simple ones? I ask that question of my audiences and the answer is unanimous. Everyone agrees simple solutions and ideas are always the best. When we make it complicated we

increase the likelihood of failure. As we simplify we increase the likelihood of success.

3) Making things too complicated scatters our efforts.

This is a very steep price that can make the most ambitious and wonderful of dreams and aspirations come to absolutely nothing. Because we lacked focus and made it all too complicated, our efforts were watered down and weakened in their effect.

As the great inventor Alexander Graham Bell said, “Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.”

Simplify your life.

Joe Calloway is a Hall of Fame Speaker and author of Be the Best at What Matters Most: The Only Strategy You will Ever Need


There’s No Such Thing as a Free Speaker

November 18, 2013

MPI’s Magazine, The Meeting Professional, recently featured an article written by Brian Palmer, CMM, President of National Speakers Bureau.

In this piece, he puts forth the notion that a process to prepare speakers should be in place for everyone who is to present, even those who might be appearing as a favor or in support of their own cause. It remains your event, and the odds of their talk achieving your objectives go up when your management is consistent.

You can read the full article here.

Be Brave, Take Risks, Break Barriers

November 13, 2013

From the National Speakers Bureau ~ Email National Speakers Bureau

Nicholas Boothman tells people how with a couple of 30-second bursts of insane courage and a few small steps you can change your life forever – by the end of the week…

You are the average of the five people you spend most of your time with, your health and welfare are a product of where you spend your time, and your horizons are obscured by your routines. With a few 30-second bursts of insane courage you can change all this. Here are a few small steps.


Starting today, arrange to have coffee with five different people (one a day), three you know vaguely and two you don’t know at all. See where it leads. Accept all reasonable invitations that spring from it.



Starting today, make finding new places and spaces a priority. Attend a free event – check out your local Time Out, Now, Today Magazine or equivalent, they hold fountains of opportunities. Take a class, join a group, a team. Visit places close by you’ve never seen, take a bus, a train, stay in a B&B in a new city, village or country. The number of people you know will increase dramatically along with your pool of energy and resources. You’ll probably even have fun while you’re at it.


Today, list your routines then change them. Starting right away, take a different route to work (or if you usually drive take transit), change supermarkets, park in inconvenient spots, sit somewhere different in meetings, use stairs instead of elevators, go for walks after meals, change your hairstyle.


Make your plans and follow through with them. You’ll be surprised at the results.

We are not limited by what we are capable of doing, but by what we are willing to try. Our willingness to take risks gives us access to unlimited opportunity, but often we let imaginary barriers stand in the way. Sometimes these imaginary barriers need to be broken down – other times you can just change into a butterfly and fly right over them.

For more on Nicholas Boothman, visit her page.

From the World’s Highest Mountains: Lessons for Resilient Leaders

October 25, 2013

From the National Speakers Bureau ~ Email National Speakers Bureau

In this article, Eileen McDargh shares lessons for resilient leaders.

One of Carl Jung’s favorite words was “synchronicity,” that unexplainable convergence of unplanned events that offer insights and opportunities. When I agreed to join a trekking expedition through two remote provinces of the Indian Himalayas, I had no way of knowing that this adventure would coincide with the publication of my latest book, Gifts from the Mountain- Simple Truths for Life’s Complexities. Ah, synchronicity!

One of the benefits of being a continual learner is that we are constantly overtaken by ah-hah moments that serve to not only whack us on the side of the head, but also hold lessons that can have universal application for anyone in leadership. The following are but some of the principles gleaned as our group drove along the highest roads in the world and wound up in the regions of Lahual and Spiti which are often closed to the outside world for seven frozen months. They come from trekking with tribesmen herding sheep and goats at elevations up to 16,000 feet and from crossing white water rivers on foot and encountering the Dalia Lama in a remote monastery near the China/Tibet border.

Watch for patterns. Different trees grow at different elevations.

The apple trees of the Kulu Valley could no more have survived at Rohtang Pass then a trout could swim at the North Pole. The natural world allows for adaptation, but only to a point. As leaders, we must know where we belong, what adaptations we can make and then how to help those around us find the best match for their growth and abilities.

Ankit Sood, our wise guide, demonstrated this principle during the trek. As the journey became more difficult, he voiced his concern in such a way that allowed all of us to gracefully examine our skill levels. Four of our party self-selected to not continue when the trekking became more difficult and demanding on both a physical and emotional level. That’s wisdom and courage on display. Had they continued, it might have caused harm to themselves as well as to the rest of the group. Ankit, as our leader, paved the way for that decision yet was also prepared to take them to a lower elevation had they insisted on continuing. A leader gives the follower a chance to evaluate his own performance but is also prepared to make the difficult decision of transferring or terminating an employee. When an employee is not able to do the job at hand, it damages the morale and the performance of a team if that employee is left to struggle in work that does not match competency or innate potential.

Expect the unexpected and deal with it.

Change is one thing. The unexpected adversity or opportunity is something else. Great leaders live in the present moment and make decisions based upon what is before them.. As we climbed higher into Spiti, the Himalayan cold semi-desert region that has been described as one of the highest, most remote and inhospitable places on the planet, Ankit learned that the Dalia Lama would be teaching at a monastery in the village of Nako. To venture to Nako meant changing plans on a dime, jumping through mounds of bureaucratic paperwork, and going through time-consuming checkpoints. However, the chance to see a world leader in a special setting was an unexpected opportunity not to be missed.

The same is true in the business world. Had 3M ignored an engineer’s idea that a less-than-sticky glue could be useful, the world would never have known Post-It-Notes(tm). Had Larry Page and Sergey Brin not paid attention to the unexpected response to their simple search engine methodology, the word “Google” would not have become a common word in our vocabulary. The more critical the effort, the more teamwork is required.

The rivers of the western Himalayas cascade from melting glaciers. At night, when the glaciers freeze, water level is reduced. The timing of a crossing is critical as water rises along with the sun. Rocks and debris swirl into tumultuous rapids. Crossing alone can be suicidal. We created a human chain, grasping each other by wrists (not hands) and alternated smaller team members with larger ones. We succeeded, cold and battered, but safe.

How often do we encounter the leader or employee who insists on “going it alone” in a critical situation? To ask for help is perceived as a weakness. Yet, it is the strength of collective brains and maybe even brawn that can produce a better result. Equally important is knowing how to optimize the varying strengths of team members for the best results. The adage of “strength in numbers” bears consideration.

Action is the antidote for anxiety.

We made it in time to cross the dangerous river that had already claimed six lives, but other members of our expedition crew were not so lucky. Rounding up packhorses had slowed their pace. In horror we watched these men attempt three times to cross, spinning against rapids and almost drowning. There was no choice but to stay on the granite rocks and wait until early morning.

I could see the anxiety in the eyes of our leader. While we hiked ahead to make camp, he devised a plan. With another team member, he filled a waterproof barrel with food, warmer clothes and a small tent. He hurled a rope to the stranded crew and together they created a pulley system for retrieving the barrel. While everyone was still concerned, taking action provided some comfort. Hand wringing never accomplishes anything. Action gives a level of control over what, at face valuable, might seem uncontrollable. A leader helps people take that action.

Everyone deserves to be welcomed home.

When the stranded crew appeared over the horizon at daybreak, we cheered, sang and welcomed them “home.” Their faces glowed with a sense that we weren’t just customers to serve, managers to follow, but rather individuals who cared for their well being. They redoubled their efforts to work for us in the days that followed. There’s universality in wanting to be welcomed and cheered.

Whether in the remote regions of India or the meeting rooms of Wall Street, employees deserve to feel that someone has seen their effort, their hard work and their long hours. The degree of engagement and retention might increase exponentially if leaders welcomed them “home.”

Gratitude transcends latitudes

Regardless of nationality or geography, humans everywhere respond to expressions of gratitude. Not only do we seek a place where we are welcomed, but our spirits rise when others let us know that we matter. The more personal the expression, the deeper is the human connection.

While it is customary to pool monies and give a bonus to the trekking crew, our expedition wanted to extend a more intimate thank-you. After all, these men had put our well being ahead of their own. They paid attention to our personal needs, even found a way to bake a cake at 15,000 feet when they discovered that two of us had birthdays.

Our solution was to gift them with personal items we knew could be used by themselves or their families. My new Timberland boots, thermal jacket and ski hat went into the box along with my husband’s favorite space-aged parka. Our party left gloves, socks, medicines, thermals, and even unopened bags of trail mix and jerky brought from home. We gave money to have everything cleaned and restored if need be.

When gratitude comes from the heart, is personal, unexpected and out-of-the-ordinary, amazing linkages are created. The gifts demonstrated that we had observed their life, their needs, and responded appropriately. Spontaneous appreciation that recognizes the uniqueness of an individual beats standardized reward programs any day.

As for our band of intrepid explorers, my expedition partners who were strangers until we gathered at Chicago O’Hare for the fifteen-hour flight to New Delhi, we’ll continue our relationships that were forged with shared experiences. You might say we have created a new company through collaboration, cooperation, and consideration. That’s not a bad final lesson to carry into our respective places of work.

For more on Eileen McDargh, visit her page.

Top Ten Tips for Leading Yourself and Others in Challenging Times

October 23, 2013

From the National Speakers Bureau ~ Email National Speakers Bureau

In this article, Eileen McDargh gives ten tips for leading yourself and others in challenging times.

Tip #10:

Stop re-arranging the deck chairs. The greatest problem with change is that no one wants to admit that it can happen to them. The big three automakers kept ignoring signals from both the consumer as well as the market place. Be honest about potential downturns and get ready. Don’t create the doomsday, hand-wringing scenarios but ones that are well thought out with a plan of action in your back pocket. Contingency is the name of the game. It’s more like a fire drill. If you don’t have a plan, you can burn up!

Tip #9:

Go with what “brung ya.” My great-grandfather always said that what he knew was “shoes.” He didn’t know how to publish books, how to sell pigs feet or how to make a car. He stuck to what he knew: shoes. Since 1880, Reineberg’s Shoe Store has served the folks of York, PA. In an era where companies come and go, my family has stuck to what they know: shoes! It’s a simple testament to focus, to listening to the customers and to not speculating about acquisitions and mergers that make no sense from a resident knowledge base. Build your core and play to win from that strength.

McDargh 2 Shoes

Tip #8

Stop reading and listening to “the news.” A steady dose of downturns, depressing statistics, gloomy forecasts and shrill broadcasters can have anyone running for cover. Beside, it’s a waste of productive time to constantly be checking stock prices. Find one trusted source, listen or read it once and then—GET ON WITH IT! What will you choose to do now to advance today? So much of resiliency is a mental trip— a mindset that says “Yes I can” regardless of all the “No you can’t” pundits. It won an election. Positive presumption has moved football teams and armies. It can move you.

Tip #7

Fire up. Don’t flame out. Exhausted teams can’t carry a ball, a race, or an Olympic flag. Make sure that what you ask yourself and your team to do has clear implication for the future—and not just some exercise in futility that is done “because it’s the way we’ve always done it.” This is a great time to streamline, to examine procedures, to throw out and to straighten up. Fire people up with possibilities and stories of hope. Can you make a vision real? Meaningful? Everyone needs that picture. No one hops out of bed to give shareholders a greater return on their investment. As Seth Godin writes, “Can you imagine Apple founder Steve Job showing up for a paycheck?” Not a chance. He shows up for something he believes in.

Tip #6

Court and carry your valued customers. It is far too easy to lose valued customers if price and financial returns are the only basis for building a long-term relationship. Protect your customers now by asking what you can do to help them. Maybe they can’t buy your product or services now—but you might be able to offer something else. Or maybe, throw in a lagniappe—a little bit more. Apple just added an extra month on to their annual One-to-One customer-training program. It’s a gift. It matters.

Tip #5

Communicate without ceasing. In the absence of information, people often connect the dots in the most pathological way possible. Transparency and honesty are keys in keeping people connected and calm. How much better it is to know what we face together and what is being done than to guess and gossip about situations. A survey of employees posted in the USA TODAY indicated that the majority have had no word from senior leaders about the current business climate and its impact on their work.

McDargh 2 Training

Tip #4

Celebrate small wins. When times are tough, we need a daily dose of encouragement. What would happen if you ended each day on a positive note? What would happen if you closed each day by mentally congratulating yourself on what you did do?

Tip #3:

Do what others are not willing to do. Look for innovation. Train employees. Yes, spend money. Wisely. That’s what your competition is not doing. If you focus on quality instead of cutting corners, you will be poised to come out on top. Let any pain be felt from the top first. Too many organizations and government agencies solve budget deficits by going after “the little guys” first. Big mistake. Remember when Chrysler CEO Lacocca took $1 in salary? Employee and customer admiration and loyalty resulted.

Tip #2

Upsize your way to greatness. This is definitely what few will do. But cutting into muscle and bone only makes the corporate body ill-equipped to reenter the business arena when the economy improves. While others must build back bench strength and start from scratch, you are ready because you have been training and hiring for this moment. Consider encouraging older employees to take half-time retirement so they can pass along knowledge to newer and younger employees. It might be the perfect time to upgrade your skills.

Tip #1:

Say thank you. Nothing attracts supporters like positive energy. When times are tough, staying positive seems like a hard battle. Gratitude is the key. The work conducted at the University of Pennsylvania by Dr. Martin Seligman underscores the value of expressing gratitude on a daily basis. Studies of character strength in tens of thousands of people across the U.S. have shown that feeling and practicing gratitude is the single strongest predictor of satisfaction with life. Find three people each day and tell them why you are grateful for them. Write down three “gratitudes” each night in a journal. You’ll sleep better. In the words of philosopher Howard Zinn, “To have hope one doesn’t need certainty, only possibility.” Here’s to the possibility of a transformed and brighter tomorrow.

For more on Eileen McDargh, visit her page.


Five Tips for Holding Business and Yourself Together

October 21, 2013

From the National Speakers Bureau ~ Email National Speakers Bureau

In this article, Eileen McDargh gives five tips for holding business and yourself together.

Anyone in the audience when I have given my presentation “Radical Resilience” knows that I believe action is the antidote for anxiety. Sitting and stewing, muttering and watching storm clouds, or pacing back and forth does nothing. When we begin to take control over even the smallest part of our life, we begin to gain a sense of forward momentum.

Consider these five tips—any of which can be started in small steps and increased as time and talent permit.

(1) Pitch out what doesn’t add value. Lean is NOT mean. Start with a file drawer, a computer folder, a closet, and yes—even your contact list. Everything that we hold on to that is obsolete, not useful, or out- dated takes up physical and emotional space. To let in the new, we’ve got the clear out the old. You might find—as I did—that cleaning up a database brings “old” clients to mind. We had lost touch. I reconnected and have now renewed friendships and/or a client relationship. You might find great ideas that were not useful then but are very timely now. At the very least—the action of tossing away just lightens the load.

(2) Spend wisely. Think of everything in terms of “what will this do for my customer.” Circuit City fired all their seasoned, knowledgeable employees because they were more expensive than new employees. Too bad. Without trained staff to help customers, Circuit City was now just a store with stuff. Ordinary. Common. And now out of business.

(3) Follow your values and offer value for what you give. If an action goes against what you value, in the long run, the price you pay will be far too high. I am not right for every client. Accepting work for the money rather than for the match will hurt both of us.

(4) Talk to your team and your customers. Better still: LISTEN. This is not the same as e-mail. Pick up the phone. Better still, meet face-to-face. Rally troops real time. We don’t feel the human support from a screen or a text message. Ideas can come from anywhere and anyone.

(5) Sullyize your workers. OK—I made up this word but perhaps it will catch on. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was a masterful pilot who trained, trained, and trained again. You don’t make that kind of landing in a two-minute timeframe without having practiced and trained. Yet—what do too many organizations do in these times? Cut training!! If you want employees to handle crises, you’ve got to train rigorously. Think customer service skills, leadership skills, clear communication skills. Responses can be second nature if training is diligent.

In Tough Times, Silence is NOT Golden

In the face of this severe, take-no-prisoners economic downturn, far too many organizations are responding in knee-jerk reaction to the thought of holding all but the smallest of meetings. Training budgets are slashed. Employees hunker behind their desk hoping that no one from HR can find them – or else they’re huddled around a PDA, text messaging about possible layoff scenarios, pending mergers, or hiring freezes. Performance? Productivity? I think not.

Now more than ever, managers at all levels of an organization need to do that which separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom: TALK!

Here’s why:

(1) In the absence of information, we connect the dots in the most pathological way possible.

(2) E-mail works fine for data but when emotions are involved, only face-to-face really carries the day.

(3) There’s a huge benefit when people gather to share ideas, brainstorm new procedures, learn more about team members, have questions answered, or explore ways to streamline work loads.

(4) Smart companies will use this downtime to cross train, to coach for performance and career development, and involve employees in corporate decisions.

(5) Diverse perspectives are critical for innovation, and these are best gleaned through conversation. Bottom Line: The organization will have a solid, committed employee base, poised to move into front position when the turnaround comes. But this will only happen if TALK becomes the preferred vehicle of communication.

For more on Eileen McDargh, visit her page.

Success Is Never Owned

October 17, 2013

From the National Speakers Bureau ~ Email National Speakers Bureau

In this short (4min) video, Rory Vaden makes an important point about achieving what we want.

Rory says:

We always get to this part. The very end. People are always sitting there thinking to themselves, they’re saying, “You’re right, Rory. There are some places in my life that I know I could probably afford to be a little more disciplined. I know that I could probably afford to take the stairs a little more often.” Their almost immediate ensuing question always cracks me up because I think it’s the same question that I would have if I were in your seats hearing this for the first time. They always say to me, they say, “Okay, Rory. Let’s say that I start doing all the things you’re talking about. Let’s say I start overcoming procrastination and I’m really staying focused and I’m making the sacrifices and I’m paying the price and I’m being disciplined and I’m taking the stairs and I’m doing the things I don’t want to do. How long do I have to do that for?”

I’m going to share with you the truth … maybe not that you want to hear, but it’s the one that you need to hear. The truth is we never get to stop being disciplined. We never do. That doesn’t mean life is going to be one great big giant trip to the gym or that we’re only going to eat foliage. The reason that we never get to stop being disciplined is because of something that I call the rent axiom. We referred to it for years at Southwestern as the rent axiom. The rent axiom says this … that success is never owned. Success is only rented. The rent is due every day. Success is never owned, it’s rented, and the rent is due every day.

Take out the word success and put in for it whatever matters to you most in your life. Financial security is never owned, it’s rented, and the rent is due every day. Being in great physical health is never owned, it’s rented, and the rent is due every day. A great business is never owned, it’s rented, and the rent is due every day. A happy marriage is never owned, it’s rented, and the rent is due every day. The rent is higher for some of you than others on that last one, depending on who you married. I got married a few years ago, and my friend Henry said, “Rory, let me just give you a little piece of marriage advice. You need to understand that every marriage follows the same process. It starts with the engagement ring, then the wedding ring, then the suffering.” Funny, not true. Funny but not true.

The rent axiom is true. That success is never owned, it’s rented, and the rent is due every day. I know that can strike you as bad news sometimes, but I promise it’s the most empowering truth of all – when you embrace this idea, this mentality of “take the stairs” and you embrace this idea that we’re not making temporary changes but permanent ones, that I’m going to pay the rent every day, that I’m going to put my pride and my self esteem in my work habits.

We stop looking for the escalator and we start embracing the things that will take us to the next level. We start doing the things that we know we should be doing. We realize that life is not about these huge grandiose decisions, but about the small, seemingly insignificant, nearly invisible choices that we make each and every day. The next time that you are in front of a set of escalators and some stairs, take the stairs because success means doing things we don’t want to do. Thank you very much.

For more on Rory Vaden, visit his page.

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