How to achieve #10X results in your life and career?

How do you reach your potential and push your life and career to new limits?

Grant Cardone, is the author of international best-seller, The 10X Rule, The only difference between success and failure.

Grant’s story is truly inspirational. He overcame many challenges in life, from losing his father as a young child to fighting poverty and overcoming drug addiction in his early 20s. He became a self-made millionaire by age 30 by working hard and building his first business. Today, Grant is an internationally recognized sales leader, owner of 5 privately held companies that generate over $100 million dollars in revenue, real estate mogul, author of several best-seller books and founder of the #10XGrowthCon, one of the best business conferences around. He owes his success to a mindset which he terms a “10X mindset”, which essentially involves thinking BIG, overcoming limiting beliefs & taking massive action.

I am excited to share some of the 10X principles that will help you push yourself to your limits and #10X your life and career:

#1- Think Big, Set 10 X Goals- Start by adopting a #nolimits mindset. We tend to set our goals low because we are afraid to leave our comfort zone and fear failure. To be successful, Grant recommends doing the exact opposite. Set goals that will be 10 times what you were originally targeting. For e.g. if you are looking to grow your business by 20 % this year, change your goals to grow your business by 200%. He also recommends writing down your goals down twice daily.

Set goals that match your potential, not your ability – Grant Cardone.

#2- No Excuses- We often inhibit our own progress by the excuses we tend to make. The #10X Rule requires a “No Excuses” mindset. We feed our mind with excuses to help us feel better about our poor decisions. Excuses are the root cause of failure and we must make every effort possible to develop a positive mindset and eliminate all negative self-talk & negative inputs from others to avoid tripping up on the tricky trek to the summit of Mt.success.

Make Time, Not Excuses- Grant Cardone

#3 Massive Action- While thinking big and setting #10X goals is a great first step, reaching new heights requires massive action. Grant states that most people take 4 levels of action a) No Action b) Retreat c)Average action d) Massive action. Reaching 10X levels of success is only possible by “Taking massive action” in your life, career and business. Massive action requires that you stay “obsessed” about your goals and go “all in” by committing ALL your available resources. If you haven’t created new problems, your actions are likely not massive enough.

Go the extra mile, there’s no one on it – Grant Cardone.

Grant’s work has impacted millions around the world, and he is on a mission to positively impact billions on this planet and is committed to do “whatever it takes” to make this happen. Cheers to a #10X future for Grant and for all of us .

How far you have come is less important than how far you can go- Grant Cardone.

Looking to #10X your life? Click here to get your copy of The #10X Rule – The only difference between success and failure.

Who are You? What can you Become?

One of my favorite all time movies is the Disney movie “The LION King”. The movie is quite touching and teaches us a few life lessons. 

In the movie, king Mufasa tells Simba, his son, and the worthy successor to the Kingdom of Pride Rock, “Look inside yourself, you are more than what you have become. Remember who you are”. I am sure we can all relate to this.

What we have become today, may be a result of various intentional/un-intentional life choices or the presence of “Scars” in our lives who make us believe what is not true. However, our true potential lies way beyond what we have become. 

In the scene where Simba says that “Change is hard”, Rafiki hits Simba on his head. When Simba asks Rafiki, why did he do that, he offers an eye opener “Oh Yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either Run from it or Learn from It”.

To regain control of the Kingdom of Pride Rock, Simba had to go through a significant personal transformation. We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.- Max De Pree

Some of you may have a clear vision of what you can become, but lack the courage to realize this vision. Simba’s transformation was realized through the support of his “Mentor” Rafiki, his friends Nala, Timon & Puumba and most importantly by mustering the courage to conquer his fears. “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them”- Walt Disney. 

We are proud to introduce our SIMBA framework to help you achieve personal growth and transformation. We believe that those who achieve significant Personal Growth are: 

S- Self-Aware : Much Like Simba, your journey for personal transformation must start with a look at yourself in the mirror. You MUST know yourself: your strengths and weaknesses, what you are great at doing and what you are not, what you enjoy and what you don’t, What is your destination, where you are currently and the route you plan to take to get where you want to go. The question is : “Who are you?”- Rafiki 

I-  Intentional : Once you have a clearer picture of who you are, you must define a concrete plan to become who you want to be. Dream Big! Set high Standards! Define specific areas where you need to grow. “Don’t dawdle, Hurry up”. You realize that the change is necessary, but it’s hard. You must overcome the tendency to procrastinate on getting started. Simba decided to turn back to Pride Rock inspite of the challenges he knew he would face, because he knew “WHY” he was doing it. Knowing “Why you want to change” will help motivate you to take the necessary action. Simba’s friend’s also played a significant role in helping him understand his true worth. If you have trouble determining your true worth and who you can become, get yourself a mentor or close friend to guide and inspire you. Woah! Jeez, why do I always have to save your a-aaaaahhhhh!- Timon

M – Maniacal : Growth takes time. Persevere Long and Hard on your change goals. For Simba, the walk back to the Kingdom of Pride Rock took determination. Take baby steps and make progress daily. Push beyond your comfort zone. Enroll your best friends in your Personal Transformation Journey. The people you surround yourself with will shape your growth more than anything else. Be open to soaking in as much as you possibly can from your mentors, and others who have walked the path before you. Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one- Grandmother willow.

B – Bold : As you make progress towards your growth, like Simba, you may find yourself backed up against a precipice and left hanging off a cliff. However, You must be bold and fearless to fight all obstacles and emerge victorious. Be prepared and courageous to battle against evil forces including your own bad habits that have held you back in the past. “I’m only brave when I have to be. Being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for Trouble”- Mufasa 

A – Action Oriented : When Nala tells Simba that she believes he is still the king, Simba doesn’t believe her initially. When Rafiki shows Simba his own reflection a striking resemblance to his father stirs action in him. He is motivated to take action and heads towards the kingdom of pride rock to overcome his uncle Scar and gain back what is rightfully his seat as the King of PrideRock. He musters immense courage to get into a massive battle with Scar and the Hyenas and brings his friends Nala, Timon and Pumbaa.

The moral of the story here is that self-awareness, intentionality, maniacal goals, mustering courage must be followed by massive action to achieve personal growth you never imagined possible.

We hope you enjoy your journey towards becoming a better you! Whenever you feel alone on your journey, look at the stars. The great achievers of the past look down on us from those stars. Just remember that those achievers will always be there to guide you, and so will I. 

Hakuna Matata! If you haven’t started on your personal growth journey yet- It is Time!

Are You Unstoppable? Developing a championship mindset to compete and lead effectively.

It’s starting to feel a lot like Spring here in the ATL! I love the fresh scent of spring flowers, the shy green leaves starting to show up and birds chirping, But what’s most exciting about Spring is the madness all around! You know what I’m talking about. It’s BRACKET time. It’s what REALLY makes spring the best season.

So who will be the champions this season?

If you ask Tim Grover, he will bet on the team that’s “Relentless”. Tim Grover is the coach for none other than Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade. Tim is also the author of the best-seller “Relentless: From good, to great to unstoppable “ where he shares insights into the minds of elite athletes. I recently had the opportunity to listen to Tim speak at one of the best business conferences around: The #10X Growth Conference organized by Grant Cardone.

Son of an Indian immigrant to the United States, Tim learnt a valuable lesson early on in his life from his father : “There are times in your life you have to do stuff you do not want to do , but you always have to fight and provide for your family.”

According to Tim, there are three kinds of people in the world: Coolers, Closers and Cleaners, and he defines them as follows:

Coolers: A person who prefers to “Play-It-Safe”, that you give a job to, and you will get the desired result and typically look to follow a leader.

Closers: A person you can give a task to do and you can be assured of greater than expected results.

Cleaners: A person who will deliver exceptional results no matter what is thrown at them.

No prizes for guessing. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade and the man behind their mental toughness – Tim Grover are all “Cleaners”. Cleaners are truly “Unstoppable” – People who have an insatiable desire to win, act of their own initiative and set impossibly high standards for themselves and others.  

Being a Cleaner means never being satisfied. It means creating new goals every time you reach your personal best. If you’re good, it means you don’t stop until you’re great. If you’re great, it means you fight until you’re unstoppable.

 So what makes someone “Unstoppable”?

Becoming a cleaner is about mastering mental dominance. Here are a few of the characteristics Tim talks about in his book that sets Cleaners apart from everyone else:

#1- You keep pushing yourself harder, when everyone else had enough-

If you want success of any kind, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Every time you think you can’t, you have to do it anyway. Cleaners always do the hardest thing first. Run your life like a basketball game. Make every minute count, and play with the same intensity all through out. When your body and mind shows you your limits, know that there are heights you can reach that you never imagined possible. When Kobe Bryant had a broken nose, he decided to play the Lakers game just to find out how much he could accomplish under such stress.

“He played a near-perfect game, but to him, not perfect enough.”

#2- You get into the zone, shut out everything else, and control the uncontrollable-

Are you playing the game of life not expecting any curve balls or distractions? Expect to be derailed. The “Zone” is a state of mind where you feel unstoppable and are intensely focused on your mission and NOTHING ELSE. A cleaner will train to learn how to get in the “zone” and stay in the “zone”. When a person gets in the “Zone” they know that failure is not an option. When Bryant scored 81 points in 42 minutes when the Lakers crushed the Raptors in 2006, you can bet that Kobe was in his “Zone” , focused on winning, and had no other emotions running within him.

#3- You know exactly who you are-

Tim believes we were all born relentless but the world has taught us to relent. For most of us, our beliefs have developed over time based on our interactions at school, work and with family. Cleaners know exactly who they are, what they stand for. They leverage their natural survival instinct and are in a mode of constant learning. They strive for excellence and outperform everyone not because they seek awards or accolades but because their standards dictate a “Killer” winning instinct. Tim suggests that we remove the words “Only” and “Just” from our vocabulary if we are striving to consistently shoot high. When Jordan won the Slam dunk contests in 1987 and 1988, he likely knew his strengths and weaknesses very well, enabling him to consistently outperform. Cleaners just trust their gut and shoot; they don’t have to think about it. 

“In order to have what you really want, you must first be who you really are.”

#4- You are not intimidated by pressure, you thrive on it-

Cleaners welcome stress. In fact, they tend to perform better under pressure. Stress causes them to think about solutions to problems that they would not have otherwise imagined. They believe that “Pressure is a Privilege”. Tim suggests that cleaners let Stress motivate them, and make them work harder. Cleaners tend to be so well prepared that their ability to cope with pressure is unmatchable by others. Cleaners believe that a life worth living must require them to maximize their impact and influence and this requires them to take the necessary risks. Michael Jordan had a history of placing bets prior to his games and trash talking his opponents. He did this to bring on the pressure that helped him outperform his own imagination of his abilities.

#5- When everyone is hitting the “In case of emergency” button, they are all looking for you-

When S**T hits the fan, who do people turn to? Cleaners are the “superheros” in an emergency. A common characteristic of the most successful people, is their ability to react quickly to anything without having to go back to the drawing board. This is because they have their PLAN A, B and C already in place. This is a true reflection of their level of preparedness, experience and practice. REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION. It’s a key point Tim makes; Practice makes perfect. Doing the same thing over and over again and performing “Fire Drills” for various scenarios is what keeps Cleaners way ahead of the pack. When the Mavericks played the Miami Heats in 2006, Dwayne Wade helped the Heats get back into the game and recover from a 2-0 lead by the Mavericks by scoring big wins. He was clearly the MVP and the “Cleaner” the Heats would rely on in future games.

Champions are RELENTLESS and focus on how to score the next big SHOT. They understand that they are only as good as their last shot.

Tim Grover is clear about the fact that not everyone can be a “Cleaner” and being “Relentless” requires a tremendous amount of sacrifice.The key question is: 

What would you have to sacrifice to have what you really want?

I highly recommend reading the book : “Relentless: From Good To Great to Unstoppable- Tim Grover”. Click HERE if you are interested in watching the recording of the #10XGrowthCon 2018 and listen to valuable insights from Tim and other top-speakers such as Naveen Jain, Ed Mylett and Andy Frisella.

How to think like a Shark

“Shark Tank” is a popular TV Show that features “Sharks” who are famous entrepreneurs such as Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Lori Greiner & Mark Cuban. On Shark Tank, budding entrepreneurs pitch their product ideas and businesses to the “Sharks” who decide if the pitch is investment worthy. Each of the sharks is immensely successful and has a unique story about how they got this far.

We will discuss the story of one of the “Sharks” today – Daymond John, who prefers to call himself “The People’s Shark” and learn some key points from his success journey. Daymond is the Co-Founder, CEO of “FUBU” the $6B fashion brand that sells T-Shirts, Hats etc with the “For us by us (FUBU)” logo. Daymond’s journey to success started with the launch of FUBU in 1992 with $40 and a line of hats that Daymond and his partners sold on a street corner in Queens, New York. FUBU was built into a leading fashion brand through years of perseverance through hardship and creative marketing. His mother was a huge role model for him and taught him the key principles of success “Think big and Work hard”. This principle is common to other successful entrepreneurs like Grant Cardone. I talk about #10X think to achieve massive goals in my post: How to achieve #10X results in your life and career.

Daymond published a book a few years ago called “The Power of broke: How empty pockets, a tight budget, and a hunger for success can become your greatest competitive advantage” where he presented his thoughts on “How to think like a Shark”. He calls them the “Shark Points” and they are as follows:

S- Set a goal – “If you don’t set goals, they will be set for you”. Early on in his life, Daymond set goals to meet his hip-hop idols and he achieved that and much more. It’s easy to set goals, but how do you ensure you keep hitting them consistently? I wrote a post on this recently – How to consistently achieve your goals.

H- Homework-Do yours – Know your customers potential hiring managers etc through your due diligence.

A- Adore what you do – Love what you do for a living. It should be powerful and make you want to get up early in the morning to start your grind. Daymond loved hip-hop and he grew FUBU through his association with FUBU.

R- Remember, you are the brand – Daymond talks about how Shark tank doesn’t invest in companies, they invest in people- Specifically, “Unstoppable People”. I wrote a post earlier on “What it takes to be unstoppable”. He recommends that people/companies understand their value and learn to pitch/communicate this effectively.

K- Keep Swimming – In the early days, the FUBU team including Daymond had to go through extreme struggle where they had to sleep in sleeping bags and turn Daymond’s mom’s house into their factory after taking a second mortgage on the house. This did not deter Daymond and his team and they “kept swimming” till they reach the shore of success.

Daymond recently published his best seller :“Rise and Grind”. The book is based on his experience growing up in Queens, raised by a single mom. He discusses his early “hustles” and the daily “grind” he had to go through to keep his head above the water. He also presented his GRIND framework for success:

G- Get on it- While it’s great to think big, unless you take that first step, the dream isn’t going to happen.

R -Repeat – Get disciplined about a daily routine and developing good habits and stick with it.

I – Insist – On your very best and the very best from your team. Set high standards and make it non-negotiable.

N- Navigate- Success will require you to navigate through choppy waters and move with speed and precision even through choppy waters like a Shark.

D – Desire, drive and determination- Don’t be put off by naysayers in your path and those who don’t believe in you. Believe in yourself and your determination to succeed. Be determined to blow past any expectations and low-standards you have had and set the bar really high so you have ample room to spare.

Be a Shark, Enjoy your swim !

I always tried to align myself with strategic partners, friends, and information to help me with the things that I did not know, and ultimately, I made it – Daymond John

How to raise the lid off your leadership potential

John C. Maxwell is a noted leadership guru rated as the #1 leadership and management expert by Inc Magazine. John’s leadership work is well known around the world and is illustrated in his best-seller “21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”.

As a Certified Leadership Coach and Speaker of the John Maxwell Team, I am happy to share with you insights from John’s 1st Law of Leadership : “The Law of the Lid” whichstates that:

Leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness. ~ John C. Maxwell

This is a key principle for success as a leader. If you are looking to take your organization to new heights, it’s important to realize that the level of success you will achieve will be directly proportional to your abilities as a leader. John states that higher you want to climb, the more you need to grow as a leader and build your influence.

This brings up the classic question: Are great leaders born or made? John believes that all leaders have a “Lid” on their abilities to lead their teams to deliver great results. The good news is that John believes that this “Lid” can be raised and your natural leadership abilities significantly enhanced by studying leadership principles and other leaders. People tend to follow those who have a higher “Leadership Lid” than them.

A great example of the “Law of the lid”? We often decide that it’s time for a new president when we see our countries economy in doldrums. Similar examples are visible when private companies replace the CEO when the company is not performing per expectations.

How does one go about raising the “Lid” on your leadership ability? Here are 3 strategies based on John Maxwell’s leadership principles and my experience as a leader in the technology industry:

a) Re-Invent yourself: Every organization wants to maximize their effectiveness and all leaders understand that good people are what drive great results. However, a leader may be surrounded with people who they do not consider as the “ideal” team member to achieve the team’s goals. The common strategy is to either replace such team members or hire someone new to the team to compensate for the weak link in your chain. What most leaders miss is John’s “Law of Magnetism- Who you are is who you attract”. A key requirement for all leaders is “accountability” and “leaders should be held accountable for who they attract”. If who you attract is not who you desire, start with a self-awareness exercise to see what you are lacking as a leader. You may have to work on one or more areas such as character, attitude, process etc to see what you have been missing. You may also be missing a key ingredient of leadership “Empathy”– Not caring genuinely for your followers. Once you analyze your own weakness, and work on improving them, you will start to see the increase in influence on your current followers and attract new followers who are more like the ones you desire.

“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Teddy Roosevelt

b) Be Authentic: John’s law of Solid Ground states – : “Trust is the foundation of leadership” and is in fact the most important thing. Trust helps develop strong relationships with your followers and with other leaders resulting in a significant increase in your influence. What’s the easiest way to lose your trust worthiness? In my experience, people will quickly lose trust in a leader who is not “Authentic”. An authentic leader leads by example and considers integrity and empathy to be non-negotiable in all circumstances. Trust has to be earned and if lost, it’s the leaders responsibility to earn this back.

People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude ~ John C. Maxwell

c) Volunteer: John states that “The true measure of leadership is Influence, nothing more, nothing more, nothing less”. In a previous post “Are you a transformational leader” we discussed Maxwell’s 5 Levels of leadership. Many leaders are “Leaders by position” and are Level 1 leaders. The true test of leadership ability is visible in a volunteer organization where you have virtually no positional authority. Your ability to deliver results in such a volunteer/community organization will be based on your influence which is a factor of your character, relationship skills, knowledge and experience. Adopt the self-awareness and leadership lessons you gain from your volunteer experience to your business teams and you will see outstanding results.

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” ~ John C. Maxwell

When 2+2!=4; How your thinking style impacts the results you deliver @ work

Each one of us has a common goal: We want to achieve exceptional results for ourselves and our organizations. Did you know your ability to deliver exceptional results can be influenced significantly by your thinking style?

Convergent thinking and Divergent thinking are two distinct styles of thinking. Convergent thinking refers to the style where the focus is on coming up with a single well-defined answer to a problem e.g Standardized tests for college entrance or any survey that includes multiple choice questions is designed to guide you to make an “intelligent” choice from a given set of options. Divergent thinking on the other hand involves a spontaneous free flow of thought leading to generation of many “ideas” or possible solutions. Divergent thinking is often followed by convergent thinking to determine the “best” possible answer to a given problem.

Is one of type of thinking superior to the other? Not really. Each type of thinking is essential to the success of an organization. However, the application of convergent thinking may vary from scenarios where divergent thinking. For example, if you are a programmer and are tasked with fixing a bug in the code, you may likely leverage convergent thinking to define possible root causes for the problem and then rule each one out through trial and error until you find “THE” bug. On the other hand leveraging divergent thinking may be very useful for an organization that needs to drive innovation and combat disruption. Divergent thinking will involve a very of techniques such as mindmapping, brainstorming, design-thinking etc to come up with a list of “Ideas” that can help drive innovation. Convergent thinkers may often rely on “out-of-the -box” divergent thinkers to define the landscape of potential solutions and leverage their outputs to define a “best-fit” concrete solution.

When you are looking to drive exceptional business results what thinking style will be more effective?

I believe exceptional business results lend themselves better to divergent thinking. For e.g. Convergent thinking has limited use in an environment where you are looking to disrupt a market or find creative solutions to grow your conversion rates on your e-commerce platform. Divergent thinking can lead to “exponential growth” where as you may see positive linear growth from pure convergent thinking. As a digital transformation leader at Digitivy, I work with several organizations that are looking to improve customer experience and grow their revenues. As we collaborate with clients in our “design-thinking” sessions we generate several ideas of which many lead to business decisions that change the trajectory of the business in unimaginable ways.

Imagination and creativity are fundamental to divergent thinking and leaders must create an environment that encourages this. Employees must be provided incentives to unleash their creativity and “out-of-the-box” thinking and leaders must learn to be supportive to accept “failure”. In the modern digital age, it is imperative that everyone adopts a mindset of “continuous re-invention”. This applies to both organizations and individuals. The “Status Quo” is a sure bet on “Failure” and will lead to the death of your organization as witnessed recently in the string of bankruptcies announced by legendary organizations such as Toys R Us.

The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo- Seth Godin (Poke the box)

“Continuous Re-Invention” requires divergent thinking. And divergent thinking requires ideas. Divergent thinking does not necessarily require specific natural talents and this skill can be acquired through training. Digital Leaders tasked with digital transformation tend to be caught up with organizational issues and priorities and find it very challenging to let their brains “drift” into imagining possibilities that may solve their business problems. Internal users also tend to find it challenging to easily adapt to “divergent thinking” due to the bias and group think developed by being part of the organization. This is where leveraging external design-thinking and innovation consultants can add tremendous value. Consultants can also facilitate divergent thinking by looking at your problems with the lens of an individual exposed to multiple industries. Leaders must create a collaborative environment where employees and consultants can brainstorm and let the divergent thinking juices flow freely. Convergent thinking can be subsequently applied in the form of design -prototypes to identify the best-fit solution.

Another technique to encourage divergent thinking is to leverage external “Think Tanks” and participate in conferences attended/led by “Divergent Thinkers”. Think Tanks are known to facilitate divergent thinking by opening up minds to possibilities that were otherwise unimaginable.

Re-inventing You: How to make good choices to maximize your potential

Success is a matter of choice. Your choices dictate the destination you reach in life. So shouldn’t we ensure that we only make good choices?

The challenge? We sometimes make choices that are a factor of external forces and even though our intuition may warn us about it, we still go forward with this. Example, when we were in school and had to select majors, we may have longed to take the art course or the music course but end up signing up for more of the “career” focused courses such as programming, math etc. Along the way, you may have made several other similar choices in your career as well : the place you work, the domain you specialize in etc.

However, it’s likely that these choices were in fact made for us and the decisions were influenced based on the experiences of our family members, friends, colleagues. The reality is that some of these choices are missing a critical component: YOU.

Life is a matter of choices and every choice, makes you- John C. Maxwell.

What’s the magic formula to ensure we make good choices that will bring out the best in us? Self-awareness- becoming aware of your own identity. John C. Maxwell, leadership and personal growth guru best describes this in his book: 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. Law #2- Law of awareness states the following:

You must know yourself to grow yourself- John C. Maxwell.

How does one go about improving our self-awareness? Ask yourself these three questions:

a) What sets me apart? : Do you know what are your unique natural talents? What do you do better than anyone else you know? What feedback have you received from others that further strengthens your awareness of your natural strengths?

 “Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess.”- Samuel Johnson.

b) Do I know where I want to go?: A GPS in a car will take you to the destination you specify. If you do not have a good sense of your destination, you will most certainly be lost in life. Define clear objectives for where you want to reach at various stages in your life. Do not only focus on your career or job titles you want to hold at a certain age. This is a very common mistake most people make. Instead approach your life more holistically and observe all areas such as work, family, community to define your destination. Through your self-awareness exercise should you discover that you are on the wrong track to reach your preferred destination, it is not too late to correct course and get back on track.

Don’t let mistakes and disappointments of the past control and direct your future- Zig Ziglar

c) Do I know why I want to go where I want to go?: Intrinsic motivation is the most powerful force within a human being. Knowing your purpose in life will serve as your northstar and guide the choices you make. Simon Sinek is famous for stating : “Everyone has a why” and encourages everyone to “Start with your Why”. Your why is the purpose, cause or belief that inspires you to do what you do.

You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out — Steve Jobs

Once you have answered these questions for yourself, ensure that you have a plan to accomplish your mission. Going forward, you must become very conscious of every choice you make and ask yourself if the choice/action aligns with your chosen destination in life. You must take the necessary actions to achieve the results you desire, including reaching out to others who can help you with your goals, getting help from a coach and developing accountability partners who may include your friends/family.

Is your team geared towards winning championships?

at Sanford Stadium on September 27, 2014 in Athens, Georgia.

Championship teams are made. They are not designed for peak performance right out of the gate. Winning a championship trophy is a factor of the leadership talent of the coach and the team management. For those of us who work in the business world, we are tasked with our own championship challenges every day.

Winning a championship in the business world typically means we have to win in the marketplace – beat our competitors, gain market share, grow revenues, improve customer satisfaction etc. As leaders, it is our responsibility to develop a culture that fosters peak performance.

What are some strategies to max out your team’s potential and deliver outstanding results?

I propose the 3Cs for maximizing team performance: Chart The Course, Create Momentum, Connect

a) Chart The Course: Leaders must be clear about the vision and goals of the team/organization and communicate this effectively to their team members. However, it’s not sufficient if your team has a good understanding of where you are going- the destination. You must also “Chart the course”– outline the process, steps and timelines that must be followed to ensure you reach your destination as planned. Leaders must learn to constantly course correct, like an airplane pilot should there be a deviation from the course planned. Leadership guru John C Maxwell in his book 21 Irrefutable laws of leadership states in Law #4- Law of Navigation :

Anyone can steer the Ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course- John C Maxwell.

b)Create Momentum: In sports, momentum creates excitement. When you see your team scoring points, as a team player or team captain it inspires you and propels you forward towards success. In business, momentum is crucial as well. When you start scoring wins, albeit small, you and your team start to create momentum. When momentum starts to build up motivation levels will increase and you will start to see incredible results from your team. Starting the “Momentum Fire” is the responsibility of the leader. The spark required to start this fire must come from the leaders own passion, energy and enthusiasm for the mission. Start with small wins. Take baby steps to get avoid overwhelming your team with the mammoth goals you are trying to accomplish. Once you have scored a few points as a team, you will have started to generate the impetus required to start scoring big and your teams confidence in themselves and faith in you as a leader will have improved drastically. John maxwell describes this in Law # 16- The Law of the Big Mo:

Momentum is a leader’s best friend- John C Maxwell

c) Connect: Emotional intelligence is a key ingredient in outstanding leaders. These leaders know how to truly connect with their people. “People don’t care how much you know, until you know how much you care”- John C. Maxwell. Great leaders are not just self-aware but also possess a deep understanding of the needs and expectations of those whom they lead. Leaders must first learn to connect with people to be effective. Empathy for your followers will help you better connect. Have you tried to put yourself in their shoes? Do you understand their cultural backgrounds or unique challenges they face that may hold them back from operating in the same environment as everyone else on your team. Most leaders really operate as managers and expect all team members perform and deliver outstanding results once they have been assigned their tasks. However, every individual is unique and everyone has a different background and circumstances. It is important to understand their strengths and weakness and adapt to each individual accordingly. Until you can connect on a personal level with each individual, show that you truly care about them and their success, do not expect the results you seek. Your relationships with your followers is a big factor in making the transition into a “Transformational Leader” as described in my previous article – “Are you a Transformational Leader”. John Maxwell’s Law #10- The Law of connection best describes this:

Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand- John C Maxwell.

Leadership development does not happen overnight. It is an investment you must make to help grow your people into future leaders and achieve outstanding results like a championship team.

The most challenging interview question

Made it to the Interview? Congratulations!! Do you know what questions you will be asked during the interview? Many candidates are unprepared for their interviews and it leaves a poor impression on hiring managers. In a world where social media can connect a hiring manager with the next potential candidate in seconds, you do not want to lose the golden opportunity of impressing the hiring manager sitting across the table. A favorite question for most hiring managers – “Tell me something about yourself” often leaves candidates fumbling for the right words to say. What should be the easiest question of the interview is the most challenging question for most job-seekers.

The best way to prepare for any job-interview is to anticipate the questions beforehand. While some of the other behavioral interview questions such as “Tell me about a time when….” may be hard to anticipate, the one question you should absolutely be ready to answer is : “Tell me something about yourself” or in other words “Why should we hire YOU”. Candidates must understand that employers are flooded with resumes and find it challenging to sift through the noise. What most candidates miss is that this question is not intended to be just a rehash of your resume, but instead a golden opportunity to address the burning issue in the hiring managers mind : “What problem can you solve for me/my organization?”.

I like to think of jobs as problem solving zones where each person is assigned a specific problem to solve by the hiring manager/organization. With that view in mind, a job seeker should really focus on attempting to understand the “problem” their specific job position is attempting to solve. Does this position exist because customer service scores have dipped or because YOY sales growth is in single digits? Or does the position exist because a key engineer recently left the organization, and there is a gaping hole that the hiring manager needs to fill to meet upcoming deadlines. Knowing this “problem” before hand will be the key to your success in the job interview. Networking with your connections and researching news and updates about the organization will help you gain insights into what are the likely problems you are expected to solve in your job role. Use linkedin company pages to learn more about the recent hires and recent departures at this company and you may be able to determine if the position is being advertised to fill a recent vacancy created through a departure or due to rapid growth as evidenced by a large number of people who have recent start dates at this company. Also, if you know the name of your hiring manager, look them up on LinkedIn and research their background and current experience and look for clues around KPIs they state they accomplished or are responsible for. Another key research tool that many candidates do not pay attention to is the job ad itself: It contains golden nuggets about what the company is looking for in this job role and a brief description of the organizations culture.

Knowing the problem is just one part of the puzzle, albeit the most important one. The next task is to align your expertise and background to this problem. For e.g. If the problem this company has is low customer satisfaction and high churn rate, you need to look into your background to determine how YOU can help fix this problem. Many candidates make the critical mistake of taking the “Tell me something about yourself” too literally. While you must indeed talk about your background, if you miss connecting your background with the “Problem statement” in the hiring managers mind, you have already lost their attention. As an interview coach at Success Simba, I work with several candidates who are preparing for interviews. Once the candidate has researched the “Problem Statement” for this job role, I ask my coachees to list 3 strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments and develop a “Pitch” that describes how they are uniquely positioned to solve the problem at hand. Many candidates are aware of their strengths and will simply state this in their interviews – For e.g – ” I am an excellent communicator”. This style of presenting your strengths leaves the task of “connecting the dots” to the hiring manager. Instead, in the example of poor customer service, the candidate would be better off describing how their natural strengths in communication helped rally customer service agents towards being more friendly and responsive leading to improved CSATs. Another common mistake is taking too long to answer this question. My recommendation would be to keep this answer between 60- 90 seconds at the max. Here’s a framework : RIPE -> for answering this question you may find helpful:

  • Relevant : Ensure your response is relevant to the job at hand and the problem to be solved through prior research.
  • Interesting: Think about interesting experiences and unique perspectives that will make you stand out.
  • Positive: Avoid any negative experiences and comments at all costs. In this context, you must leave the past behind.
  • Energetic: Ensure you sound enthusiastic about the opportunity to make a significant contribution to this new job role.

Your response to this question often forms the “First Impression” on the hiring manager. Good Interview skills requires practice.

How NOT to have a “Manic Monday”

Monday’s! Most people dread this word because it often signals the end of the weekend and time to get back to the grind. The weekend is never long enough. Monday’s present a unique set of challenges for leaders who have have to do their best to help their team be motivated and highly productive on a day where everyone would rather kick back on the couch. The responsibility of ensuring leaders and their teams do NOT have a “Manic Monday” rests on leadership’s shoulders. If the leader has the right mindset and preparation, Monday’s can become the most magical day of the week for everyone.

Every week offers a new opportunity to re-invent yourself as a leader. Hold Monday morning meetings with each of your team members to help you reflect not just on the tasks at hand but how you can re-invent yourself as well as your team members so you both have an outstanding week. David Cottrell in his book “Monday morning leadership”, introduced innovative thoughts for leaders looking to re-invent their leadership style. His book is a story about “Jeff Walters” who feels stuck in his mid-career life and is in a state of “crisis”.

David’s book is narrative style with leadership lessons delivered as part of 8 “sessions” Jeff spends with his mentor “Tony” who is the kind of leader and person Jeff aspires to be. This book has golden nuggets that will not just make you a better leader but also a better person. I will summarize some key learnings from this book below:

#1- “Be A Driver – Until leaders accept complete responsibility for everything that happens within their “Sphere of Influence” aka teams/departments, they will not succeed. It is also the leaders job to develop future leaders and managers.

#2- The Main Thing- If you are losing employees, it is likely because of your poor leadership. Leaders must develop a deep-awareness of the “Main thing” within themselves and their team- Turn Profit, Ensure Customer Sat, Quality etc. Leaders must help equip their team to become successful. If EVERYONE on your team doesn’t know what the “Main thing” is you will continue to have problems.

#3- Escape From Management Land- Success in any business environment depends on one thing: Great people. Ensuring you have great people on your team is just scratching the surface. You will need to ensure you are able to invest time each week to “coach” your team members to become better. Focus on building a “connection” with each team member.

#4- The “Do Right Rule”- Thinking ahead is a necessary skill for any successful leader. Ensure you are constantly thinking about “Crisis Mitigation” and building plans ahead of any crisis actually unfolding. Most importantly, ensure all your decisions are made with a deep sense of integrity.

#5- Hire Tough- If a forward thinking leader has their plan of action in place, they will never make the mistake of hiring someone in a hurry. Having the wrong people on your team will lead to crisis. Set the bar high in terms of your hiring standards to ensure you are team is geared for success. Even better use the rule of three: interview atleast 3 people for each position and have atleast 3 people talk to each candidate.

#6- Do Less or Work Faster- Your time is your responsibility. Take control of your time so you can take control of your life. Working faster requires small changes- standing up during a meeting, taking lunch breaks during non-peak hours to avoid lines, de-cluttering and avoid interruptions to the best extent possible.

#7- Buckets and Drippers- This is a great concept. David suggests imagining that every team member has a bucket of motivation -for some its overflowing and for others its empty. And every team member has drippers- things that can spread negativity to you and others. Your job as a leader is to know how to fill each team members bucket and avoid the drippers. Identify what’s important for them to be great at their job, provide feedback to help them improve, and most importantly show them you care.

#8- Enter the learning zone- This is another one of my favorites from David’s book. He suggests that leaders must focus on growing themselves constantly and get out of their comfort zone. He introduces three rooms: Reading room: Reading books and audio content, Listening room – listening to your team and avoiding ego, Giving room- Teaching others what you learnt. Teaching is a great form of becoming accountable.

Raising your leadership lid through self-awareness is a great starting step. Leveraging a leadership coach to help you grow your leadership skills is another proven technique.