Monday, February 28, 2011

What We Can Learn From Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen. Just saying his name today causes most people to sigh and roll their eyes. Then the chatter starts where we all have an opinion about what is wrong with him. Is he Bipolar? Is he still on drugs? Is he a sex addict? Is he just plain nuts?

Tonight he will be interviewed on 20/20. For the past two days he has done a bunch of interviews that have been covered on TV, on the radio and I just finished reading a bit about him in the Dallas Morning News. I have Charlie Sheen overload!

Click here to watch a YouTube video of what I have to say about it.

I have an idea. Instead of talking about what is wrong with him, maybe we can look at him and ask ourselves some important questions. Here are a few:

  1. Am I living my life the way I want to?
  2. Am I taking care of my responsibilities and the responsibilities I have to my family and my coworkers
  3. Am I in denial about what I need to work on?
  4. When other people who have credibility with me give me feedback, do I listen?
  5. Are there things in my life (drugs, overspending, an affair, deceit, etc.) that are in charge of me instead of me being in charge of them?
  6. Am I proud of myself and are other people I care about proud of me?
Hearing about Charlie Sheen's antics hits a chord with most people. We might know someone like him. We may identify with some of what he is saying. We may have worked really hard in our own lives to get away from someone just like him.

It is interesting to us to see where Charlie Sheen's story goes next. I think we all should resist the urge to look at him like a car wreck that gets our attention. When I drive by an accident in my neck of the woods, it makes me more attentive to my own driving. If you are going to watch 20/20 tonight or some of the upcoming news stories about him, instead of hypothesizing about what might be wrong with him, stay in the Smart Zone and use it as an opportunity to focus on working to the best of your ability emotionally, intellectually, and behaviorally. Instead of watching TV tonight, maybe spend some time in the company of your family and friends instead.

Friday, February 25, 2011

What Happens in Vegas Shouldn't Stay in Vegas - Especially if You Like Shoes from Zappos

I was in Las Vegas last week and am about to break the "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" pact - again! It was too great a trip not to tell. In between speaking at a conference and a local TV appearance I was able to venture out to the headquarters (Zappos is an awesome online retailer of mainly shoes). Delivering Happiness by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh is on my NOOK and I was excited to learn that Zappos offers tours and insights as to what makes their culture so unique. Take a look at the picture of the CEO's desk I snapped while there:

Tony Hsieh's Desk (CEO of Zappos)

Working at a desk like Tony's would make me crazy! It seems so unorganized and even has a jar of pickles on it. I really don't like pickles. But his desk is indicative of how Zappos delivers happiness and that's why I believe Zappos is in the Smart Zone.

Tony Hsieh has been an entrepreneur his whole life from his worm farm as a child to his button-making business as a teen. As a young adult he cofounded LinkExchange which he later sold to Microsoft for $265 million. He then went on to grow Zappos to a billion dollar company in just 10 years. (By the way, Zappos got it's name from a twist on the word "zapatos" which is the Spanish word for shoes). He wrote the book Delivering Happiness to reveal his secrets to success and how he found happiness in business.

The Smart Zone is where you work to the best of your ability emotionally, behaviorally and intellectually. Here are a few Smart Moves that Zappos uses to stay in the Smart Zone:

  • Delivering WOW: Zappos looks at every phone call, tweet and email as a way to build their brand. Most call centers measure employee performance on how many phone calls each rep can take in a day. Zappos doesn't. Their longest phone call was 6 hours long and their employees are empowered to do what's right for the brand while on the phone.

    My favorite story in the book is about the Skechers shoe rep challenging Tony and his partners on the Zappos call center's customer service. After a late night of bar-hopping and hotel room service being closed Tony dared the Skechers rep to call Zappos to try to order a pizza. The Skechers rep took him up on the dare. She called Zappos and explained that she was in a Santa Monica hotel where room service was no longer delivering, she was craving a pepperoni pizza and was there anything Zappos could do about it? Two minutes later the Zappo's rep responded with a list of the five closest pizza places in Santa Monica that were still delivering. This had nothing to do with buying shoes but it had everything to do with delivering WOW!
  • Paying People to Quit. One of Zappos' core values is to be passionate and determined. Zappos believes so strongly in this that they will pay people to quit! After their 4-week new hire training program every employee is offered $4,000 to quit on the spot if they don't feel the job is right for them. (The amount used to be $2,000 but they recently bumped it to $4,000). My tour guide last week told me about 10% of the people take the offer but Zappos knows it's cheaper in the long run to make sure they have the right people.
  • Encouraging Employees to Pursue Growth.
    In the Zappos Culture Book employees are asked to grow personally and professionally and to "be a better person today than you were yesterday." Recent Stanford research reveals that a meaningful experience can make you happier than pure pleasure. In an early conversation about the book Good to Great the founders decided it might be a good idea to have a library in their lobby of recommended books to encourage their employees to read. Now there are hundreds of books in the library free for all employees and visitors. You should see the number of books I came home with!
  • Being humble. This is one of Zappos' core values. Being humble embraces the Smart Zone secret which is to take the focus off yourself. One of the cofounders, Fred, worked in the shoe department at Nordstrom before cofounding Zappos. His experience had been that buyers abused their shoe vendors with disrespect, secrets and squeezing every last dime from them. Zappos changed this by giving their vendors access to the same information as their buyers. This created mutual respect and transformed the relationships to be collaborative in nature instead of adversarial.
If you believe your organization is in the Smart Zone like Zappos, email me and tell me about it!

Please join me on Facebook, too!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Are You Working in the Smart Zone?

I was in Las Vegas last week and am about to break the "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" pact.  My time on The Morning Blend TV show talking with Dao and Shawn was so much fun!  Thought you might enjoy the clip and get a kick out of how I "improvised" with my Bucket Theory of Stress.  You'll see it about 2/3 of the way through the segment.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How Lack of Communication Can Make You Fat

Poor Sophie. At a recent Vet visit we found out our sweet dog Sophie has gained 8 pounds since November! She's a beautiful golden retriever and 8 pounds shows on her. I wish I could blame it on holiday snacking but that's not it. It's our fault!

Here's her glamour shot:

For the last few months I've been filling her food bowl before I leave in the morning. What I didn't realize was that my son was also filling the bowl before he eats breakfast each morning. So Sophie has been eating twice her normal amount for over a month! And, it's made her (I hate to say it) fat!
It boils down to lack of communication between my son and me. We both had good intentions but failed to inform the other person. Our lack of communication has made Sophie fat.

In his book, The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey says,

"While we tend to judge ourselves by our intent,
we tend to judge others by their behavior."

In my case, both my son and I intended to feed the dog but our behavior made it look like we wanted to make her fat.

Isn't this true with people we work with also? We perceive someone as a slacker because he doesn't arrive at work until 9:00 AM - when actually he was up until midnight working from his home office. Or your new boss can't articulate the vision of the company since the merger so you perceive him as incompetent.

People in the Smart Zone have the ability to manage their perceptions using the following Smart Moves:

Stop defending your intentions. When the Vet told me I was feeding Sophie too much food my first response was, "No, I'm not." I was defending my intentions. I didn't get it. The more I defended my intentions instead of accepting his perception of my behavior, the more guilty I looked. It is easy to keep defending your intentions but it can be at the expense of productivity, efficiency, and likeability.

Anticipate what others will think. Consider the following misperceptions given to me by leaders who attended a recent workshop of mine:
  • Working longer hours means you are more productive
  • Asking for help is a sign of weakness
  • I must toot my own horn to get noticed and survive in this company
  • Sharing what I know with coworkers makes me less valuable
  • The loudest voice is always right
  • Only certain people are capable of specific tasks
  • Leaders have all the answers
When delivering a message or presentation consider how the listeners will perceive what you say given who they are, what they care about and what their job description includes. Anticipate what others will think so you can minimize chances of misperception by covering questionable territory ahead of time. And remember what not to put in an email.

Manage the Rumor Mill. When perception is not managed it becomes a rumor, then gossip, and then an unintended reality. So nip it in the bud. Make sure you keep in mind these 6 things you should never say at work.

Money Doesn't Talk. Many companies perceive that giving employees more money makes them happier but most HR surveys report that "feeling appreciated and informed" are ranked higher than compensation by employees. In his book, Delivering Happiness, Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos) says that ultimately what matters to people is passion, growth and a higher purpose. I loved watching this Zappos blog video of a Monday morning.

The organization can't function without you - or can it? Your organization will survive even when someone with perceived value gets promoted or laid off. BUT, wouldn't it be nice for you to be the one people perceive the team can't live without? And not because you are the only person who knows the "secret sauce" recipe. Your character determines your success just as much as your technical ability. Character qualities like determination, compassion, loyalty, punctuality, honesty and responsibility make you invaluable (click here for a list of 49 character qualities).

Proceed with caution. Good leaders are able to size up the strengths and weaknesses of others quickly. The danger is that you will judge others and become overly critical of what you perceive to be their shortcomings without giving them a fair chance.