The Power of Mastering Your Mindset

Posted on November 20, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Opened Head Silhouette with Gears Inside

The more effectively you can master your mindset and how you approach the world around you, the more successful you can be and the better your outlook on life can become.

Today’s post is by Kavita Sahai,CEO and Founder of Have BIGplans, LLC.

“The thought manifests as the word; the word manifests as the deed; the deed develops into habit; and habit hardens into character.” – Ancient Proverb

Are you struggling to master your mindset? Success boils down to the way you think, as the proverb suggests. More and more research is supporting the power of positivity. 

We create the reality around us, and by taking steps to be more positive, we can master our own domain.

Mastering Your Thoughts

A recent study conducted by the Journal of Research in Personality examined a group of 90 students split into two groups. One group wrote about a positive experience each day for three days, while the other group wrote about a control topic.

Three months later, the students who wrote about positive experiences enjoyed better moods, fewer visits to the school health center and fewer illnesses.

Start Keeping a Gratitude Journal

So how do you harness the power of positivity? By expressing gratitude. Record five things to be grateful for each day. As you keep a journal, being grateful for the abundance of good in your life will come more naturally. This “glass half full” mentality has been proven to foster happiness and success.

Get Enough Exercise

150 minutes of exercise a week is one of the most effective ways to boost your mental health. Getting regular exercise improves memory, relieves stress, boosts overall mood and helps you sleep better. See for more details on the benefits of exercise.

Schedule Genuine Personal Time into Your Life

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Do you feel guilty when people ask for help and you’re too busy to assist?

Posted on November 16, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Career, Leadership, Poll

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Do you feel guilty when people ask for help and you’re too busy to assist them?

– Not at all. I have my priorities straight: 7.8%

– A little. I like helping but can’t help everyone: 47.1%

– A fair amount. I feel like I’m letting them down if I don’t: 36.7%

– Tremendously. I’ll go out of my way to help to avoid the guilt: 8.4%

Feeling guilty. Many of you feel some sense of guilt when someone requests assistance and you don’t have time to help them. It’s a natural feeling. If you never give in to the guilt, it builds up and makes you feel bad. You also risk a reputation of being someone who doesn’t help others. The other extreme is helping too frequently and stressing yourself out because you help others at the expense of your own work or your time off. Try setting limits for yourself and for others. Limit the number of additional tasks you’ll take on. Learn to say “no” or to defer assistance. Many times a simple “I can’t help right now but I can get to it in a few days” can either buy you the breathing room you need or get the person to find an alternate means of fulfilling their assistance request.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Balancing Risk and Empowerment in Decision Making

Posted on November 15, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Leadership, Training

Man Making a DecisionDecision making is a trade-off between risk and time. As leaders, we need to create an environment where our people feel free to make decisions but that we don’t let them create too much risk.

As leaders, we say we want our people to be empowered and to go out and make decisions. We say we’re okay with them making mistakes and we’ll still support them making decisions on their own.

But not really.

I’m lucky to have a huge leadership lab in the form of the SmartBrief on Leadership weekly pulse poll. Every week I ask a leadership-related question and thousands of people respond to those polls. Sometimes I get a little sneaky and conduct my own experiments over the period of a few weeks. I conducted one of these experiments recently.

First I asked “Would you rather have a team member make decisions and make mistakes or make no decisions and leave that up to you?”

Unsurprisingly, all us empowering leaders were eager to give our team members the latitude to make decisions and make mistakes. 96% of respondents said they’d rather have a team member make a decision even if they make mistakes. A measly 4% of respondents wanted the team to leave all decisions up to them.

I observed we want our team members to take the initiative, take action and move things forward, even if they make mistakes. It is incumbent upon us as leaders to ensure that, when they do make mistakes, we realize we gave them the latitude to take action — handling the mistakes in that context accordingly. While we need to hold them accountable for the mistake, we also need to ensure they learn from it and do so in a way that we don’t make them afraid to make more mistakes in the future. Heck, I believe so strongly in this notion of decision making and empowerment that I dedicated a whole chapter of One Piece of Paper to the topic (grab a copy here and check out Chapter 13).

The following week I conducted the second part of my experiment.

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7 Irrefutable Skills That Top Leaders and High Achievers Have Mastered

Posted on November 13, 2017 | 1 Comment
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

High Jumper Going Over a Bar

High achievers and top leaders share many traits like persistence, passion, purpose, principles, persuasion, and performance. Do you possess these qualities too?

Today’s post is by Andreas Jones, author of Battle Tested Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Battle Tested LeadershipMost leaders and high achievers are where they are today mainly due to the hard work and dedication they have put into ensuring they become successful. However, the majority of the masses think otherwise: they have this notion that this elite group of leaders and high achievers reached such level as a result of luck or opportunity that they were “privileged” to have. This notion, however, is not entirely correct because success does not happen abruptly; it takes preparation on the part of the individual to grab whatever opportunity that comes up to become successful.

There are specific attributes that cut across this group of high performers, which they have cultivated and mastered through the years to place them at the positions that they are currently.

I’d like to share seven irrefutable skills that have been mastered by high performing individuals in society today.

Undeniable Persistence

First on the list is “persistence.” As common as the word is, it is still a rare trait in most people. High achievers and top leaders in our society today know how valuable this trait is. It is not everybody that can continue on a journey or process in spite of the challenges that they encounter in the process. There’s a popular quote that says: “Quitters never win, and winners never quit,” this is not far from the truth; because when other skills fail to keep one going, it is persistence and passion that comes to the rescue. Although they might face serious setbacks and obstacles that can discourage the average person, high performers know that just before success is achieved, the obstacles or challenges become more pronounced.

Examples of people with this rare trait include J.K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter book series, faced much rejection but still persisted and went on to become the most successful woman author in the U.K; Thomas Edison failed several times before inventing the electric light bulb; Walt Disney failed in his first attempt at animation before creating the now so famous Disney World; others include Albert Einstein, Richard Branson, George Washington, and Mahatma Gandhi.

A Well-Developed Personal Philosophy

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How rigorous is your approach to pricing your products or services?

Posted on November 9, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Poll, Sales

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: How rigorous is your approach to pricing your products or services?

– Very — we’re pretty analytical and rigorous about it: 58%
– Somewhat — we do some analysis and occasionally focus on it: 29%
– Not very — we infrequently analyze and focus on pricing: 8%
– Not at all — we slap a price tag on it and sell, sell, sell!: 4%

The Power of Pricing. An occasional focus on pricing isn’t enough. It’s perhaps one of the biggest improvement levers you have at your disposal. For traditional businesses, a 1% pricing improvement can yield a 10% profit improvement. How can you afford not to be rigorous about pricing? Not only should you evaluate how much you’re pricing – you should also consider your pricing model. The way you price your products could be less than effective. Invest the time in looking at your pricing model and the actual prices themselves. You (and your shareholders) will be happy you did!

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Protecting Yourself from Fraud and Identity Theft

Posted on November 8, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Balanced Lifestyle, Business Toolkit, Leadership

Stealing a credit card through a laptop

You’re facing a much larger risk right now than you might be aware of. The odds of having your identity stolen and facing fraud committed in your name is at an all-time high. But you can do something about it if you act quickly

If I told you someone was stealing money and harming your company’s reputation, you would take action pretty quickly, right?

Why don’t you do the same thing with your own money and reputation?

“Oh, fraud and identity theft won’t affect me. There are so many people out there to steal from.”


I don’t often write on “personal” topics but this is one that can affect your reputation, your job prospects, and it can drain your time and energy which will affect your job performance. This is serious stuff. Pay attention and take action.

For context, I used to work in the credit card industry. I understand fraud, credit scores, credit bureaus, and identity theft. I know how it happens and I know what the impact can be. And right now, you’re at risk of having your identity stolen.

Recently Equifax reported that 143 MILLION personal records had been stolen. That includes social security numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers, and who knows what else. With only 300 million people in the US, there’s a pretty high probability your personal information was compromised. Mine was. My parents’ was. My daughter’s was. This is real folks.

The people who stole that information fully intend on using it to take out new lines of credit in someone else’s name, max that credit out, and walk away from the mess having stolen money and goods from the credit card companies and banks.

“I don’t care. It’s not my money.” you might think. No. It’s not. But it’s your name.

Those bad debts will show up on your credit report. They’ll tarnish your credit rating. They’ll increase the cost of getting a loan or credit card or mortgage. They’ll harm your job search. They’ll be a nightmare to clear up because you will have to prove it wasn’t you who incurred the debt. That takes time and effort on your part. Do I have your attention yet?

You can do something about this though. You need to take three actions immediately:

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Increase Diversity by Focusing on Talent

Posted on November 7, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Guest Blogger, Leadership

Diverse Set of Smiling People

In staffing a new facility, by emphasizing talent rather than experience, we eliminated a major barrier to employment and increased our diversity. Can you take the same approach and have the same impact on your organization?

Today’s post is by Larry Sternberg, co-author of Managing to Make a Difference (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

Despite research concluding that experience is a poor predictor of professional success(1), in too many situations, organizations designate experience as an absolute “must have,” a ticket to admission, in the hiring process. But lack of experience is the only deficiency that is guaranteed to correct itself over time.

If you hire someone today who has zero experience, I guarantee you that three years from now he or she will have three years of experience. In most cases (I know there are exceptions) elevating experience to a “must have” is simply unwise. In the worst cases, experience requirements become a significant barrier to employment and diminish diversity. But organizations continue to overemphasize experience anyway.

In the mid 1980’s I was Vice President of Human Resources for a newly formed company, The Portman Hotel Company, which was owned by the well-known architect and real estate developer, John Portman. Our first hotel was under construction near Union Square in San Francisco. Mr. Portman made it clear that he expected us to deliver truly extraordinary service. We, the operating team, were challenged to go beyond the current thinking about how to run a luxury hotel. And we were not merely encouraged to do so – we were supported.

Extraordinary service requires extraordinary people. We had to hire 350 people to staff this hotel, and it was evident to us that traditional methods of recruiting and interviewing candidates were inadequate for this challenge. We engaged a firm that specialized in measuring aptitude (they called it “talent”), and we decided to de-emphasize the importance of experience, which substantially expanded our candidate pool. We contacted almost every organization in San Francisco whose mission included helping their constituents find jobs. We said, “Send your people. No experience necessary.”

By focusing on talent rather than experience, we removed one of the most common barriers to employment and thus increased the likelihood of diversity. And the outcome was much better than any of us had hoped. The demographics of our 350-person staff were to the percentage point the demographics of the city of San Francisco.

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What is your preference with respect to leadership training?

Posted on November 2, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Leadership, Poll, Training

EKG Pulse Graph with Glowing Blue Line

Our reader poll today asks: What is your preference with respect to leadership training?

– I’d like to attend leadership training in-person: 75%
– I’d like to take leadership training by video course: 7%
– I’d like to do “on the job” versus formal leadership training: 14%
– I’d like to construct self-led leadership training: 4%

Live still thrives. While we hear a lot about “blended learning,” “scalable and distributed” offerings, and online training, your learners have a very clear and strong preference for in-person training. Why? As someone who has trained literally thousands of people in our classroom courses, I know it’s about the interaction and focused learning. Being in a room focused on one subject for 4 to 8 hours gets your brain in the right space to learn. You also have immediate access to an expert trainer who can answer your questions. While video and distributed learning are solid reinforcement mechanisms, clearly the classroom still rules.

Do you agree with these poll results? Let us know in the comments below!

Mike Figliuolo at thoughtLEADERS, LLC

Did you enjoy this post?  If so, I highly encourage you to take about 30 seconds to become a regular subscriber to this blog.  It’s free, fun, practical, and only a few emails a week (I promise!).  SIGN UP HERE to get the thoughtLEADERS blog conveniently delivered right to your inbox!

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Getting Paid to Execute Your Strategy

Posted on November 1, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Business Toolkit, Communications, Leadership, Strategy

Hand Receiving Cash from Businessman

If incentives aren’t aligned with your strategy, the likelihood of you reaching your objectives is pretty low. Be sure you clearly link your incentive plan to the strategic outcomes you’re trying to achieve.

People do what they get paid to do. If incentives aren’t aligned with your goals and strategic outcomes, you’re not going to get the results you want.

After you’ve defined the initiatives you want to pursue, laid out the priorities for the organization, and set goals, you have to link individual and team incentives to the successful completion of those activities. This may require changing compensation plans or offering bonuses contingent upon execution of strategic objectives.

I had one client that was trying to make a massive culture shift. They were moving from a mindset where it was great to drive sales to one where they wanted to improve margin.

Everyone’s incentive plan was tied to sales. The organization realized no matter how badly they wanted their sales reps to focus on selling more profitable business, they would never get there if they didn’t change the sales compensation plan. So they did.

They said “No longer will you get incentive only based on sales. We’re also going to measure the profitability of the products and contracts that you sell.”

Behavior changed pretty fast, and they achieved that strategic objective of expanding their margins.

Using Incentives to Drive the Right Behaviors

One organization I worked for had a bunch of field technicians. Those technicians were measured on their daily production. The incentive was based upon how much work the tech got done in an eight hour period.

Our organization had a strategic shift where we realized production matters, but we really needed to focus more on retention. We were losing too many customers. We knew the way our technicians interacted with customers drove whether a person stayed with us as a customer or not.

We realized we had to change the incentive plan. So, we layered on retention on top of technician production. We created an entirely new metric called “retention adjusted production.” The way that worked was a tech could do a great job and do a lot of production, but if they had really high attrition, their production score would get decreased. Their incentive went down too if they had too much attrition on their route.

Guess what?

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Overcoming Strategy Communication Pitfalls

Posted on October 30, 2017 | No Comments
Categories: Books, Communications, Guest Blogger, Leadership, Strategy

Communicating with Two Tin Cans and a String

Strategy execution is still a relatively new topic in business and leaders struggle how to do it. They face many execution challenges and the top one is communicating the strategy. If you understand the most common pitfalls in communication, hopefully you can avoid them.

Today’s post is by Robin Speculand, author of Excellence in Execution (CLICK HERE to get your copy).

What are your preferences?

  • Apple or Galaxy phones?
  • Working in the morning or at night?
  • Tea or coffee?
  • Work alone or in a group?
  • Window or aisle seat on the plane?

Just as everyone will answer these questions based on their own preferences, people have their own ways of answering the call to executing a new strategy. Leaders who achieve excellence in execution recognize this as they prepare to communicate a new strategy. They consider how to respond to people’s different preferences and strive to create the right first impression. Consider that you never get a second chance to start a good execution.

As an essential business topic, strategy execution is in its infancy. Yet it’s quickly evolving as leaders demand more knowledge, structure and resources on how to achieve it. When they address how to execute strategy, it’s not always with the same energy, drive and conviction they applied to crafting it. Often, they’re missing the skills and tools needed to excel in their execution efforts.

A leadership team doesn’t walk into a conference room and declare, “Let’s create a bad strategy!” Although they believe they have crafted a winning strategy by the end of the planning, they only know if it’s good once it’s executed.

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