Friday, December 31, 2010
This year, two examples came up during our youth sport experience. 1 little league baseball & the other rep league hockey. Only one of the examples adversely affected our families experience, yet both examples warranted us asking the tough questions to those in positions of authority. While we are not ‘that family’ who feels the sun rises and sets on the backs of their children. Having said that we’re also not ‘the other family’ who talks a big game, rallies the troops on the sidelines.... And actually does nothing about it. We feel there is great lessons in adversity & we also feel it’s fair practice to bring issues directly and only to those who can solve them.
The approach is not a tirade or series of baseless accusations, threats and the like. It’s questions based on information provided by the league that (for some reason) have not / are not being followed, that adversely affect the kids.
People don’t like feedback. Period. Few people want to hear they are doing a sub par job or they are not doing what they said they were going to do. In both instances, our requests for clarity were not immediately returned. This forced the decision to follow it up... Or “let it slide”. We are not those people who “let it slide”. Upon further requesting it became apparent the ‘we welcome your feedback’ statement was more of a formality than reality. Yet we persisted all the way up the chain in getting answers to our very simple questions. Months later, after finally getting on the in front of the powers that be, apologies were issued and long term changes were made to the systems in place in order it functioned as it was intended to function.
Nothing dramatic here, but one can’t help but ask what the result would have been had we not kept pursuing this course of action?
It’s important in any case like this, that one makes themselves heard. Best way is to lay out the concerns in a reasonable manner, present it to those in power, request a phone or face to face meeting and follow up. Complaining in the stands, to other friends, or worse yet doing nothing is not being in left or right field – it’s not even being on the field. In this instance, youth sport requires money, hence there is a level of accountability associated with it’s implementation. In any instance, if what you has been articulated / promised is not being implemented, we must stand up and say something to those who need to be accountable.
Remember no one’s ‘perfect’ but any organization that aspires to be better than average is going to appreciate it.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Do what you say you're going to for no other reason than because you said you were going to.
Leadership, Winning, and Success (could all be considered the same thing but do have different connotations) are all ALL-IN, ALL-OF-THE-TIME things.
How many people want to be successful at work and miserable at home?
How many people can afford to be great parents but not pay the bills?
How many people would trade finances for life experiences?
How many claim to want all of the above, but don't plan, work for it, or understand let alone demonstrate that to be great in one area requires sacrifice in at least a few others?
In my humble definition, success means being happy with what you have, with where you're headed, with who you're with, and most of all being able to look yourself in the mirror in the pursuit of all of the above.
By this definition, you cannot go "all in" in one aspect of your life, and then 'switch off' in others. The principles of success, if they've truly been applied, transcend the platform within which they're being exerted in any given moment of time.
That's why you can somehow make more money being a philanthropist
that's why you have more energy even if you expend a lot of it exercising
that's why if you've learned to do one thing well it becomes so much easier to do the next thing well.
The saying "it takes money to make money" is wrong (in most cases). That is the viewpoint of the pessimist justifying "why not me". A better saying is "success begets success".
And why? Because the only true path to success is to take your lumps, sacrifice, struggle, seek outside council of those you deem successful, and to dive in with both feet never allowing failure to become an option.
If you really did that at work, could it even be a possibility that you'd allow yourself to be a less than great mom or a sub-par brother?
I don't think so.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
I am not talking about the blood doping we have heard and read so much about over the last few decades to promote endurance performance, but rather a method to treat soft tissue injuries that are traditionally very challenging to heal.
This method is known as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy, and has been found to be very effective in stimulating recovery in non-healing injuries, for example Achilles tendon injuries. Although not 100% clinically proven, it has been found to speed up the healing from soft tissue injury as the platelet component is full of healing factors
Platelets, found in the blood, are introduced to stimulate a supra-physiologic release of growth factors in an attempt to jump start healing in chronic injuries. Growth factors found in the bodies blood, release a supra-maximal quantity of these growth factors to stimulate recovery in non-healing injuries.
Examples of these Growth Factors include:
Platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)
- Stimulates cell replication
- Promotes angiogenesis
- Promotes epithelialization
- Promotes granulation tissue formation
- Promotes formation of extracellular matrix
- Regulates bone cell metabolism
- Promotes angiogenesis
- Promotes cell differentiation and stimulates: re-epithelialisation, angiogenesis and collagenase activity
- Promotes proliferation of endothelial cells and fibroblasts
- Stimulates angiogenesis
It is clear that PRP provides a promising alternative to surgery by promoting safe and natural healing. Great news for anyone suffering from that nagging soft tissue injury.
Sunday, December 26, 2010
Friday, December 24, 2010
Let’s face it - the number one problem that we all have with sticking to a program is TIME – there never seems to be enough of it. What it really boils down to is time management.
If you are committed to your goal, and if it is challenging enough, your priorities will shift and you will find the time to get in the mileage. Challenge is the key here because without it commitment will be tough.
The best piece of advice that I can give endurance athletes is that it is always better to arrive at the start line well rested and under trained, versus over trained and over reached.
So if you are going to start training for your next event late into the game - ie after Christmas, this would be my advice for you;
- Get a heart rate monitor so that you know what energy systems you are training.
- Your first priority in endurance sport is building your aerobic engine (zone 2 and 3) – do not miss the long slow distance workouts (Z2) – it builds your ability to burn fat as a fuel.
- Get the quality workouts in when time is short – the midweek interval sessions (Z4/5a). Use your heart rate monitor to make sure that you are working around your anaerobic threshold on harder efforts. You need race pace practice, but don’t over do it – cut warm up and cool down time around the efforts.
- Start slow -make sure to increase your long days gradually – mileage or time.
- Back to back long days are great for boosting endurance on race day.
- If you build your total weekly hours to twice your predicted race time you will have plenty of mileage in your legs for the event.
- Do not skip the resistance training (gym) sessions – they improve your ability to produce force/power, and they improve resistance to injury.
- Practice fueling and hydrating in all training sessions with what you plan to race with – how many calories, grams of sodium, liquids or solids, how will you carry it all?
- Do not under fuel - track your daily calorie intake to make sure you are getting enough to support your training – Daily Plate on www.livestrong.com is a good resource for this. Also make sure that you are getting 2-300 calories per hour while training also – individual needs may vary so dial it in with practice
- Use the 30-60 minute window after all training sessions to replenish your glycogen stores – a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein works best – chocolate milk!
If you want more training tips feel free to contact me – email@example.com.
Train smart – get a program and stick to it to maximize the efficiency of your training time!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
It's Christmas in 3 days and while work still needs to get done - time waits for no one and your happiness is your responsibility. Steve Jobs asks himself, "If I knew I was going to die today, would I be happy with what I have planned?" - and if you say 'NO' more than a few days in a row... it's time to make a change.
It's time to do something, anything, even 5 zenful minutes - for you and those you care about.
Get away from your desk or phone, get some fresh oxygen in those lungs, and be thankful for what (and who) you have in your life. Now get busy showing your appreciation!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I can remember at one especially tough rugby practice trying to better grasp why, even though I was in fairly good condition, I was still puffing and panting, my muscles were on fire and my brain was trying to force me to quit.
As I progressed through my university years of studying I developed a better appreciation and understanding of the mechanisms of fatigue - better known as the theory of Peripheral fatigue.
Peripheral fatigue states that as the body works harder, certain physiological changes take place leading to distress and fatigue and ultimately a decrease in the level of performance. The accepted reason for this fatigue was said to be an increasing concentration of Hydrogen ions, causing an increase in the bodies acidity levels.
This led to muscles "shutting down" or not functioning as they should - commonly experienced as a sensation of heavy, tight and tingling muscles throughout the body - mostly in the arms and the legs.
This paradigm has been accepted for decades, but now there is a another school of thought. It is called the theory of Central fatigue.
In simple terms, the theory suggests that fatigue during athletic activities is actually regulated by a center in the brain, which is where the information from both the external and the internal environment is .
The external environment includes factors such as temperature, humidity, altitude, while the internal environment includes factors such as: level of hydration, fatigue state, glycogen store levels and more.
A continuous stream of information is gathered by the bodies many receptors and then sent to the brain, where it is integrated, evaluated and assessed.
The result: the amount of output (watts, beats per minute, minutes per mile etc) being produced by the body is closely monitored and controlled to avoid a "catastrophic" event taking place for example: death, in the most extreme situations, or not completing a race.
The central "governor" aims to ensure the bodies survival under the many challenging situations we are faced with every day.
Something which has intrigues me to this day is the bodies ability to moderate and adjust levels of output through the course of an activity.
At the start of a race, an analysis of data acquired via our bodies various receptors, provides information necessary for this "governor" to make subconscious calculations as to what it will allow you to do.
It will, for example, allow you to run an 8:30 / mile, for 13 miles, because your level of training is sufficient, you are hydrated and your energy stores are optimal. The temperature is not to high or low and the humidity just right.
As you move through the course, continuous feedback reveals you are not under any dire physiological, psychological or anatomical distress, and with 5 miles to run, you feel capable of increasing the pace to 7:30 / mile.
1 mile to go and pick up the pace to 6:30 / per mile.
The mind feels comfortable that for 1 mile you will not sustain any catastrophic damage running at 6:30 / per mile. Would you be able to run at 6:30 / mile for 13 miles? All things considered likely not - and the mind is 100% cognitive of this.
This is how we are able to "kick" at the end of race and elevate our performance to beyond the output we were doing at the outset of the race.
As we study the body in more depth over the coming years I am positive new theories and facts will certainly surface giving us an even better understanding of the relationship between fatigue and human performance.
Monday, December 20, 2010
It's frustrating to me when people say they're willing to do "whatever it takes" to succeed at something... but in fact, what they're willing to do is everything except what will really make a difference... because that's usually the hard part.
Like the healthy guy who uses the elliptical because he doesn't like running - but what he doesn't like about running is that it's hard, and he can just glide away on the elliptical. Or the girl who tells you she'll add in three more days of exercise to fit into her vacation outfit - but won't give up the drive-through food because she just doesn't have time.
Anything that's worth getting needs to be worked for - earned. If it's hard to achieve, then it's that much more worthwhile an effort. Stop looking for the easy way - there isn't one. Maybe if we, as a society, can accept this... then nonsense like the "Shake Weight" or "Hip Hop Abs" will finally find their place at the bottom of the trash heap where they belong.
"Anything worth having, one must pay the price; and the price is always work, patience, love and self-sacrifice." ~ John Burroughs (1837-1921)
Couldn't have put it any better myself.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Tomorrow will be exactly one year since my business partner and I decided to merge with another company with a very similar vision, one that demonstrated great care for people.
They had great people... we had great people
They had a clear vision... we had a clear vision
They treated their team with respect & care... we treated ours with respect & care
They had clear difference makers within their target market... as did we.
Yet for all the aligning principles, for how much sense it made on paper, for how much it made 'common sense' great people would come together to find a common purpose...
We were right... and the amount of extra work, unforeseen resignations, tough decisions, fires to put out... they have all been nothing short of overwhelming.
We are now positioned to release a great, multi-faceted and comprehensive service offering unique to our industry come Jan 4th... however not without great sacrifice and many tough lessons.
Imagine if we were wrong.
The point of today's entry is not to promote our new business, nor is to write a "how-to" in merging similar businesses (I don't profess to have that advice).
Today I am sharing how much work it is if you do your due diligence, put your personal and family finances at risk, sacrifice time away from family and friends, and force yourself to grow as a leader (even in a case where the two merging businesses had a combined 45 years of expertise). It is an enormous amount of work if you have a great vision, a great plan, great skill, and great opportunity.
People have quit, people have been laid off, budgets have been cut, and changes made to the plan JUST TO GET TO THE START LINE.
But that's what it takes to be successful. Just wanting something doesn't make it so. Saying you want to make more in no way, shape, or form, entitles you to it.
Earning it is the only way that's possible, through hard, smart work, applied over time.
You can either view me as the scrooge delivering this message, or realize the longer you fight this reality, the harder it will be to get where you want to be when you do start swimming upstream.
Life isn't fair, and it's only getting more competitive... but having said that we can all get busy sharpening our axes, or continue hitting trees with a dull blade wondering why we're falling further and further behind.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
It is interesting that the results of a new study by the European Commission and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (E.C.D), found in a research study called Health at a Glance Europe 2010 report, is recommending that European kids learn to eat better and become more physically active.
The reason for this study and publication: The research found that the incidence of obesity had more than doubled over the past 20 years, in most EU member states, and that just over 50 percent of Europeans are now either classified as overweight or obese.
The report also found that only 1 in 5 children is physically active and the majority of these children are between the ages of 11 and 15.
There is a direct correlation between children who are obese or overweight and an increased risk of various health related issues during adulthood, such as:
- suffering from poor health later in life
- developing heart disease
- developing diabetes
- suffering from some forms of cancer, arthritis, asthmaa
- reduced quality of life
- premature death.
Five "WORST" countries:
- UK - 24.5% of adults are obese
- Ireland - 23%
- Malta - 22.3%
- Iceland - 20.1%
- Luxembourg - 20%
- Romania - 7.9%
- Switzerland - 8.1%
- Italy - 9.9%
- Norway - 10%
- Sweden - 10.2%
Africa and the far east too populations facing obesity and other weight relates issues
A United Nations conference stated that diseases such as diabetes and obesity are becoming as great a cause for concern for the African continent as malnutrition.
Research suggests that more than one-third of African women and a quarter of African men are overweight.
We need to accept responsibility for our health and wellness, but more importantly, we need to guide our children, providing them with the understanding, the tools and the skills to better manage their health, wellness and body composition.
Monday, December 13, 2010
Thursday, December 09, 2010
The truth could not be simpler when it comes to beginning a new training program. It does not matter if you are an elite athlete looking to improve performance in your sport, or if you are completely new to exercise. The reality is that it is human nature to want focus on developing our strengths instead of addressing what we are not effective at.
Consider this – the purpose of training is to;
- Improve efficiency (skill or movement based)
- Improve durability/prevent injury
- Improve performance
Where do we always gravitate to immediately? Performance, which usually translates as strength and power exercises.
But where do we begin then? How do we establish a starting point?
The answer lies in understanding the foundation of human performance – functional movement.
The requirements are simple – please read carefully because these are the fundamentals of movement and therefore training;
- Mobility – which includes joint ROM and muscle extensibility
Our bodies were designed to work as a stack of joints from the ground up with an alternating pattern of stability and mobility.
When dysfunction disrupts this pattern we develop movement inefficiency and compensations. This leads to micro trauma and pain with the volume and repetition of movement.
Injuries are the result and these do not get anyone to the start line. And guess what? The higher the level of the athlete the greater the stakes – athletes are mentally driven, physically strong, and frequently have higher pain thresholds. This is a recipe for pushing through compensations until something gives
What if we could objectively screen for these dysfunctional patterns, and then work on correcting them before we move into strength and power work?
Clearly we would be able to reduce the incidence of pain and injury, right?
But we would also get the benefit of free speed with improved movement efficiency. That dear reader is improved performance.
So why then are we so quick to skip over the fundamentals when we are looking to improve performance?
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
Start Point: You have something to say
Step 2: you identify who you want to say it to
Step 3: You start to ask what is the best way to reach those you're interested in marketing to, and how best to language or present you efforts.
Step 4: You actually speak to/ phone/ email/ tweet/ Facebook/ etc the person(s) in question repeatedly and in a number of ways because we know leadership is often saying the same thing over & over again in different ways until it really sinks in.
Turns out it's a never ending process, and the reason why marketing consultants can cost a lot of money.
The fact is you can save time, frustration, money, even your business - if you can remember one important lesson.
Even if you haven't identified you target market properly...
Even if your languaging, branding, logo, and website need work...
Even if you get it all right...
In most companies the people responsible for most of your marketing, good or bad, don't have 'marketing' in their job title.
They are your employees... the lot of them. The ones who interact with customers every day, especially.
How do you market to your team?
Really, truly ask this question.
You cannot (and of course, should not) attempt to brainwash the team into saying what you want.
You cannot allow your team to trash the company in front of your customers if you happen to have disgruntled teammates working in the front lines.
So, what can you do?
Well, for starters, invest in your people. If they are to be invested in the company, the company must be invested in them. It must be a 2 way street.
Next, develop your people to the best of your abilities. Work with your team on their reasons for working with the company, their goals, and their talents, and make sure each is being developed to the best of your capabilities within your abilities & resources.
Next, develop your team to the best of the capabilities of those outside your business. Lululemon uses Landmark Forum. Even bringing in a guest speaker who is skilled in an area you are not is a great initiative.
Lastly (in the space we have today) make them part of the process. A good idea that has the momentum of the team is always better than an idea of equal or even better quality that has no legs. Not to mention - who's to guarantee the boss has the best ideas?
The more heads the better
The more mouths (saying the same thing in different ways) the better
The more opportunities for success as a result of both of these, the better.
Let your team do your marketing for you. Traditional marketing mediums do not carry nearly as much weight. An ad that runs in one paper on one page one day is nothing compared to a bought in teammate who is willing to tell a thousand stories to a thousand prospective customers.
So, who are you marketing to?
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
Admittedly I am from the old school where you said what you were going to do and then did what you said.
We were compensated on what we had brought to the table after we brought it. YEARS after we brought it.
We could look a man in the eye, shake his hand and proceed to give it our best.
We feared failing & being replaced. We had a collective goal, there was accountability and then follow up.
Six figure salaries were part of 20 year plans.
We were always active. We played outdoors, stayed out late and walked everywhere. We were not obese.
We grew what we ate, reaped what we sowed, took what we needed and shared with our neighbors
I called your dad mr. and those who I didn’t know sir.
I shook their hand hard while I looked them in the eye.
We communicated in english not short form consonants.
We spent time speaking with our parents nightly at dinner & hiking on weekends.
Things are a little different now and we’ve had to adapt. I’m willing to be flexible if you can prove the new system is better. Tell me how it's better because I'm just not seeing it.
I’ve heard hours of ‘big’ talk, followed by seconds of effort.
Seen huge front end payouts, and poor back end performance.
When times get tough there’s no, rolling up our sleeves. We pop in our headphones, power up the ds's, quit and sue.
We don’t fear or respect our parents, elders, superiors, managers, owners or leaders. “They work for us?”
We don't listen to those who’ve walked a mile in our shoes before us. We’ve got a better way based on ????
Technology was heralded as the ‘next best thing’ with the capability of bringing our world together.
Yet the world has NEVER before been so far apart. Rich & poor, religiously, idealistically, intellectually and politically
The American dream used to have to be earned through sweat equity. Now it can be downloaded, with low interest credit.
Once thriving ecosystems of forests, lands, waters, species, economies are being decimated by the get-miners.
If you can prove how it’s better, I’ll welcome your input, embrace your systems and follow your lead.
But things like unemployment, personal debt, divorce & bankruptsy can’t be at record highs with nations collapsing for the new way to be right.
Maybe there’s not supposed to be an ‘easier way’. Maybe there is something in the old school fundamentals.
WE are facing adversity.
Time for an OLD plan.
Monday, December 06, 2010
Frankly, there have been no end to the snide and self-righteous comments that have popped up, criticizing the entire process as a passive non-starter that accomplishes nothing - and while there's some validity to the comments, they are just as useless as those who changed the avatar and then did nothing else.
So let me ask - for those of you who chose to not post a cartoon character, how many of you put your money where your mouth is and actually made a contribution to an organzation that fights child abuse as a result? And for those of you who did change their picture, how many of you followed through with a donation? Personally, I feel that if even ONE person made a contribution that wouldn't have otherwise, then to all of the naysayers, guess what: it was a success. It's simply a matter of degree. Maybe next time this happens, five people that otherwise wouldn't think to donate are moved to do so... then ten, then a hundred, then a thousand, and so on... or not. Perhaps this is just a small step that goes no further - but its still a step, and its still more than there was the day before.
So for anyone who regularly contributes - thank you. For those who changed the picture AND made a contribution - thank you. For those who made smart-ass comments while not changing the picture but actually donated after all - ironically, the whole process still worked, so thank you. Finally, for those of you who did nothing but stand on the sidelines making comments - you still may have helped contribute to positive action by pushing the dialogue further.
Maybe we can all keep this in mind in the future, when we're next asked to change our profile picture to show support for a worthwhile cause... or wear a yellow bracelet, a black armband, a pink t-shirt, or just to make sure we wear jeans on a certain day... and not fall into one of two traps: either criticizing without action, or taking part in "slacktevisim"... doing some token action with absolutely no concrete follow through.
Change begins with awareness, but it seems to me that awareness without action is actually worse than inaction through ignorance...
Friday, December 03, 2010
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Let me begin today by asking you - yes, YOU - to take 10 seconds to look at the room you are sitting in right now. How much abundance is in your life right now? Are you sitting in a home you can afford to rent or own? Do you own the computer or smart phone you are reading this message off of? Are you lucky enough to have a job that lends you opportunities to computers you use for both personal and professional purposes?
Take another 10 seconds and ask yourself what you have to appreciate in your life right now.
So many books, courses, blogs, shows, etc are focused on how to get what you want.
How about today we take a moment to reflect on and appreciate what we already are fortunate enough to have?
Instead of focusing mental energy and planning strategy on "get" and "more"... it would do wonders for our sanity if we spent a bit more time on "keep" "give" and "appreciate".
Tomorrow is not guaranteed. If every day is spent sacrificing for the next, and every effort based on advancing oneself to be able to afford more consumer products... than we have missed the greatest gift we'll ever get. Do yourself and a friend a favor, pass this on, go get some oxygen outdoors (no matter the weather) and treat your body and your friends and family well... they're all part of the life you HAVE RIGHT NOW... which is the only thing you're guaranteed in life.
Maximize it, plan for improvement, but don't we dare miss out on what today has to offer us.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
A training program is an essential part of athletic / fitness development and improvement, no matter what your level of participation. As a Trainer and Coach, I spend a huge amount of time developing training programs for individuals to assist them to reach their goals.
I have come to realize there a few "things" which, if kept in mind, can help make the process a little less confusing and time consuming.
- Needs analysis:
Determine what elements the activity / sport demands of the individual? Is it Cardiovascular endurance or muscle strength or perhaps flexibility? Usually it is a combination of various elements.
- Start at the "ultimate" goal and work backwards:
The next step is to enter in the goal date. this might be a final weigh in (3 months) or perhaps an Ironman triathlon (8 months).
Doing this will allow you to work the program backwards, see how many weeks you have to program with, and what the most effective way is to structure the progression of the progression.
- Availability of time / Training frequency:
This is key because without knowing how much time is for training and workouts, the program is not going to be effective. This information must be acquired from your athlete or customer at the outset.
Training frequency looks at how many training sessions per day / week are required to lead to success. Elite athletes train every day, sometimes 2 - 3 times per day. More common is to train every day, with one day as an "off" day. This is closely tied to how much time the individual has available.
- Progressive overload:
Progressive overload is the process which will allow you to safely challenge the body to adapt to the training stress, using progressively increasing training loads and intensities over a period of time.
Too much stimuli, too soon and the system will breakdown. Too little stimuli and there will only be a small (if any) change or improvement.
A simple model is to utilize is 3 weeks of progressively increasing load assignment / volume and one week of reduced load / volume reduction. This will facilitate regeneration.
- Start general, end specific:
Simply stated: At the commencement of any training program, the focus should be on developing overall conditioning - improving general cardiovascular fitness, strengthening connective tissue, enhancing range of motion and mobility etc.
As you move through the weeks and months of training, activities should become more specific to the activity or the sport. This might include speed work for marathon runners or Plyometric training for football players.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Take all of the Hollywood celebrities, whose endless needle, nip, tuck and cut attempts leave them looking so far and away from their original appearance that, in a twist of irony (and a touch of karma), they lose all of the external allure they previously possessed?
The truth is, the "magic bullet", the "secret" is already out there - and it's remarkably simple.
Eat right. And exercise.
Problem is, no one wants to hear that. Because, as I've said before - simple isn't easy. It takes effort, education and, most importantly - lifelong commitment. And the payoff isn't something that you see in a week, a month, a year - it's in the daily ability to head out to a pick-up game of basketball, to bounce back from surgery, to hold off that cold and to play with your grandchildren.
And these aren't found at the end of a knife, or a needle - their found in the daily trip to the gym, in the morning walks or runs, in getting off of the couch and discovering the joy of living.
So the next time you're tempted to invest some hard earned (and saved) money in one of the "instant" result methods, remember that age-old adage:
"If it seems too good to be true, it probably is".
Friday, November 26, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
According to Verne Harnish, author of "Mastering the Rockefeller Habits", business success boils down to 1% vision and 99% alignment.
That is, you need the inspiration and direction of brilliant visionaries; but either within the discipline of those leaders, or hired to balance them out you must have strategists who know how to execute and track progress towards that vision.
You need dreams and ideas... and you need plans and performance management systems.
You need goals and strategies... and you need progress reports and accountabilities.
Any business worth their price of admission is able to manage above, and while doing so make the numbers come alive for everyone from the boardroom to the mail room.
Jim Pattison's auto business, for example, was famous (if not infamous) for inspiring performance in their sales team because each reporting period, the bottom 10% of their sales team was let go. Whether it was fear-based or incentive-based, no one could doubt the impact of living by the numbers no exceptions allowed.
Other companies, especially internationally-known brands like Disney... have a tougher task. "Make people happy" is their vision. How? Well they have hundreds of ways, but each one, no matter how hard it is to do logistically, must be tracked in order for the Disney company to know they are delivering on their vision. And they are! Other than their direct competition, how many people frown when they see Mickey Mouse or consider a family Disney cruise?
One of the biggest challenges most leaders face is a disconnect between the management team and the team at large. One of the best ways this can be overcome is through a strong culture, and within that culture, making every effort to take all things complex and 'big' in the business and turn them into bite-size relevant chunks that every foot soldier in the business understands and wants (for at least some reason) to improve.
The how-to is as diverse as one business is from another, but some key pointers are as follows:
- identify your target market
- identify your business' key difference makers in attracting and/ or retaining this target market
- identify a numerical relationship between how improvement in the above 'X factors' improves your bottom line
- identify key departments and the driving force(s) they contribute to the success of the organization at large. Numerically track these
- identify key performance indicators for all staff (ideally similar, but if not, departmentally or positionally defined)
- set up daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual reporting periods with as much rhythm of communication of all above data and how it ties to the big picture.
- ensure all above is communicated through every level of the organization regularly, and that incentives (financial and otherwise) are tied to meeting and exceeding goals set therein.
Numbers may not be a strong suit for all leaders, but whether they learn how to make numbers come alive, or hire someone who can do this - all companies are bound by numbers at the most fundamental level. Revenue - expenses. Either find a team of employees wholly motivated b y making you as much money as possible, or learn to motivate and educate through the power of making the key metrics in your business come alive.
The world is just too competitive today not to.
Monday, November 22, 2010
This is not a personal attack. This isn't even directed at her as a Republican. This is directed at those people in the United States, who hold her up as the "saviour" of their country and who not only support her but may very well get her elected into office. Who ignore the fact that her answers to real, in-depth questions relating to her country (let alone the rest of the world) are often almost as absurd as that of George W. Bush's. Who doesn't seem to have any sort of actual platforms, besides the fact that they'll be "different". Who supposedly stands for "traditionally conservative" (note: not my opinion) family values, but whose hypocrisy continually rears it's ugly head in the form of a grandchild born out of wedlock to her (still) unmarried daughter. And whose same daughter continues to be on Dancing With the Stars because of her mom's popularity, but despite the fact that her dancing is atrocious....
Mark my words. Sarah Palin will make a run for office in 2012, and she stands a frighteningly good chance of getting there. And as much as I'd love to sit back and let those who vote for her suffer through the consequences of their actions - I can't. Because her being in office will impact MY country as well.
I implore you, if you care about the world you live in - spread the word. Keep this woman's hands out of world economics, the U.N., global peacekeeping, domestic poverty and, most importantly, keep them off of the nuclear codes. I don't care if it's a Republican, a Democrat or an Independent that takes the oath in two years...
Just don't let it be her. Please.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
If people had the ability to think long term, its safe to say they might be doing things a little differently today. This begs two questions, 1. how do we train ourselves to think long term and 2. Do we always need to arrive at the point of no return before we change the way we think?
History, nor science are our side.
History shows example after example after example of failed ecosystems directly related to our inability to factor in the long term ramifications. Fall of the Roman Empire, world wars, collapse of the worlds financial system, collapse of Europe's social system, destruction of the rain forest all have/had obvious outcomes (with foresight, in hindsight) based on the foundations they were built. Can you 'think' of any other modern day examples?
Science points to the fact that most human beings only use a fraction of their brain power while the rest is left untapped due to our inability to access it. Do we even try or do we let others do the thinking for us? Ironically we are fascinated by people with the ability to tap the 'hidden' parts of their brains; Socretes, Newton, Churchill, Edison, Chopin, Beetovan, Picasso, Van Gogh. You mean I have the capacity to be as brilliant as these people? Yes. They were simply people who trained themselves to use more of their brain than we do. [See them]
Marketing is not on our side.
Staying in business and profitability are all about 'now'. Even the 'freedom 55 campaign' is about taking your money 'now'. Our inability to think long term prevents us from realizing that we are being sold 'the dream' before it becomes the nightmare... at which point we buy into another quick fix dream and wonder why the cycle continues.
Human nature is not on our side.
We tend to operate in a circular pattern. Around. And around. And around we go exhibiting the same behaviors and expecting a different result. No wonder there is rampant insanity. That is the very definition. We tend not to even be compelled to take action until there are dire consequences. Did we not know better?
So if history, science, marketing and human nature isn't on our side - how do we intend to initiate & facilitate long term, forward thinking? There's no one answer, and our fast approaching reality is that we're going to be forced to start thinking about it very soon.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Just as this gentleman pictured may have a tough time hitting his target, it can be very hard to reach our objectives if we don't see (or can't envision) where we're going.
The word "legacy" gets tossed around a lot, and it stems from a generational trend. We have more and more needs met for us as (recession notwithstanding) we were lucky to be born during a time and region of affluence. Whether it's Maslow's Hierarchy of needs or common sense, the more basic needs we have met, the deeper and more metaphysical our desires become.
Our goals move from survival to philanthropy and/ or excellence in achievement. These are good things, and the analogous blind dart thrower is not in any way meant as a deterrent to setting goals. Quite the opposite.
The education that is meant is to have people think more clearly of how they want to be remembered, not just THAT they want to be remembered. In terms of a straight geologic record, the possibility exists millions of years from now that the only record of the human race may be our fossils. In other words, the written word, stories being told about you, even the Internet - there is no guarantee that any of it is forever.
What should matter is what the people closest to you, and the people you hope to inspire - say about you and your life's work. More importantly, defining success in your own terms, and being able to say YOU are proud of you and what you have done in your life and to help others.
"I want to be remembered" is like throwing darts blind.
"I will be remembered for ___________ by doing x, y, and z in __________ manner" is a LOT better.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Keep in mind that the variables discussed in this segment hold true for all runners - not just the Elites. I recommend taking one of the variables analyzed and work on improving it in your own running.
You will be amazed at the difference it make. Not only will you be able to run more efficiently (less fatigue associated with running), but your body will be far happier - less muscle soreness, less muscle fatigue and ultimately, fewer injuries.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Her victim was 4 year old Alexa Middelear.
After she was sentenced to a shocking and offensively short 2.5 years in jail (which will amount to even less when you consider probation and time served), her and her lawyer had the audacity to suggest that the sentence was "too harsh", and that she "shouldn't go to jail".
Sadly, this is just another (even more vile and disgusting than usual) example of how our society continues to do anything it can to avoid any degree of personal accountability.
I don't care if she's a "good person at heart". I don't care if she "has quit drinking", and is "plagued by nightmares". And I really don't care if she "has something to contribute to society".
She made the choice to drink. She made the choice to get behind the wheel of a car. She made the decision to speed. And as a direct result of her choices, a 4 year old girl feeding a horse at the side of a road is dead.
And now that the time for penance, the time to pay the toll for her choices and the results of these choices, has come - she has the gall to try and appeal the decision, looking for sympathy and compassion from the court.
I think we really need to take a good, hard look at ourselves, and stop allowing ourselves, our family, our friends and our children to make excuses and justifications... because if we don't, then it's only going to get worse.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
We are often called on to share advice with young people entering into the workforce based on our experiences hiring across the 20-25 age bracket. What is great about this is it allows us to provide insight & advice that doesn’t seem to be taught in the education systems. The biggest challenge in sharing this information is that it’s counterintuitive to what is being taught, hence understood as the expectation when people get to their 1st jobs. This false expectation can lead to people’s first months on the new job being a ‘re-training’ period instead of ‘integration’ period which can result in frustration, wasted time and wasted money.
Below are 5 solid tips that can accelerate a successful integration into the workforce.
1. Determine your passion & skill set. There are too may examples of people ‘stuck’ in jobs & careers they are not passionate about. This wastes all parties time, money and energy. If we are able to determine what we are passionate about and then base our job searches around that criterion, we (and the organization we end up in) are going to flourish. Also relevant to what we are passionate about is knowing what we are skilled at. We need to have, or study & gain the necessary competencies & skill sets in order to succeed and sometimes that may take extra work. In the end, those who are in jobs & careers they are passionate about and skilled at will have a much more prosperous (by every sense of the term) experience.
2. Understand personality characteristics. There are many great tools used to analyze peoples personality traits. Briggs & Myers, True Colors are two of the most widely used and what they do is a) identify your primary personality traits, b) outline how those traits are positively and negatively influenced in a team/work environment and c) identify other personality traits and outline how those traits are positively and negatively influenced in a team/work environment. If every employer / employee had a handle on this criterion, they would save billions of hours in time and billions of dollars of money managing personalities. Every job is a delicate ecosystem and EVERYONE has the responsibility of understanding their role and how it relates to the group.
3. Know what business you are getting into. There are many types of business, however for simplicity sake we differentiate by service based and product based. If you are applying for a service based business the success of the organization (hence you) will likely be determined by the quality of your offering vs. other offerings. As competition heats up, your organization (read: you) will need to respond accordingly if you are interested in keeping a share of the marketplace and this presents itself in the form of above and beyond and the extra mile. Different organizations will have different expectations around the extra mile and it’s important to understand what that organizations expectation is BEFORE you commit to the job vs. after you get hired and determine it’s not for you. If you are the type of person who prioritizes work as a means to an end or prefers to punch in and punch out, you should think about getting into a business where the product can speak for itself and doesn’t require you to speak for it. This ties in closely with passion, skill set and personality traits.
4. Understand the 4 key aspects in EVERY business. The 4 main aspects are self, team, operations & customers. Most people make the mistake of only thinking about themselves and the customers and this leads to BIG problems. Knowing your values, strengths & weaknesses, communication styles, baggage and how you prefer to be managed will prevent 99% of all self-related conflicts that can arise. Personality traits can really help facilitate a healthy team environment and despite the ‘be your own boss’ marketing campaign that is often over sold, the REALITY is that a great team will rival an enthusiastic individual every time. People’s lack of understanding around operations is one of the primary contributors to 1-5 businesses not making it past 5 years. Know your companies mission statement, code of conduct, bottom line. The more you familiarize and educate yourself on the operational aspect, the better position you will be in to contribute to the growth and success and the more likely you will be rewarded. When people take care of self, team and operations at a high level, the customers will be reflected in that success.
5. Don’t underestimate the responsibility you have in CONTINUING create a successful work environment. People prepare so hard to write the test, to get the degree to ace the interview to get the job and think that’s the end. It’s not the end. It’s not even the beginning. What people have a set of tools that now need to be selected, sharpened and modified in order to carve out continued success. Those who keep reinventing themselves, sharpening their skills and own their progress and success are more happier, more productive and likely more extrinsically rewarded than those who come into a job and try to hide or get the most for the least.
Matt Young is the founder of Innovative Fitness, a personal training company in Vancouver BC. He is a 2 time Ernst & Young entrepreneur of the year finalist, Canada’s Top 40 under 40 award winner and has authored & co-authored 7 books. Matt and his team have donated over 3.5 million dollars to charity and have a Guinness World Record for the fastest cycling relay across Canada. You can reach Matt at firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
A side bar to the article looked at number of "sobering statistics" related to children, adults and corporations, and although the statistics regarding the health status of children are extremely alarming, they have all been written about many, many times.
I decided to present a few very interesting, if not shocking, corporate numbers from research findings over the last 5 years.
The reason for deciding to look at the corporate cost is because Innovative Fitness are now actively involved in developing and delivering corporate health and wellness packages and programs to organizations.
Here is some healthy and nutritious food for thought!
- As a result of the recent economic challenges, 60% of U.S companies have changed or plan to change their health care strategy.
- In 2009, employers were paying 29% more on health care than they did in 2004.
- Companies that have managed their health care costs effectively have saved more than $60 million since 2004. How?
- Through financial incentive programs
- Through effective delivery of information to employees
- The average cost of health care per employee in the U.S in 2008 was $7 173
- In terms of Dollar savings, companies that spent money of health and wellness programs, saved between $1.49 - $4.91 per $1 spent.
- $45 Billion - the cost of obesity on companies as a result of medical costs and work losses.
- In 2008, 40% of companies implemented obesity-reduction programs
- 50% of companies plan to introduce or increase investments in health and wellness programs.
- 32% of companies have or plan to introduce or increase financial incentives for health and wellness promotion activities, in the form of:
- Premium discounts
- And if these programs are not adhered to or utilized by employees? 45% of companies plan to introduce or increase penalties for non-participation.
- Offering appropriate financial incentives to those participating in programs
- Delivering information on health and wellness effectively and consistently
- Provide quality health care along the entire health and wellness spectrum
- Use metrics and evidence based feedback to support and develop programs
- Maximize health and productivity through the implementation of 1 - 4
Source: Idea fitness journal: October 2009, volume 6, number 9
Monday, November 08, 2010
An example of this is the results in the recent American midterm elections. We've seen the Republicans regain control of the House of Representatives - which, when seen overlaid with the "Obama hasn't accomplished anything..." interviews you hear with from the voting public, demonstrates the American people's frustration with the lack of results from Obama.
They're missing three key things. Firstly - much as we'd like to see otherwise - things don't happen in the blink of an eye. They must be presented, debated, changed, adapted, presented again, debated again, and so on... the process is meant to prevent knee-jerk reactions (a good thing) but it also slows any sort of quick progress. Secondly, they seem to be forgetting that Obama's administration took over this problem from someone else - a Republican government. They are the ones who created this in the first place, and left it for someone else to clean up - sadly, a challenging (and potentially losing) situation to walk into.
Finally (and unfortunately), some of his other accomplishments have been missed or overshadowed - things like:
- Expansion of Medicaid to all individuals under the age of 65 with incomes up to 133% of the federal poverty level
- Requirement of health insurance plans to disclose how much of the premium actually goes to patient care
- Significantly increased funding for the Violence Against Women's Act
- Eliminated subsidies to private lender middlemen of student loans and protected student borrowers
- Increased funding for national parks and forests by 10%
Now, these are just a small number of changes brought forward by the current administration, and in them they address healthcare, women's rights, students and the environment... and that's just two years into the term.
Might just be my opinion - but shouldn't we wait more than 2 years before we start considering Sarah Palin an option?