Book: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization

Whether you are the head of an entire organization or a department manager, reading and following the simple principles found in this book can help get your thoughts headed in the right direction for 2011.

Book: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization By Peter Drucker, with Jim Collins, Philip Kotler, James Kouzes, Judith Rodi, V. Kasturi Rangan, and Frances Hesselbein

Any group, team, company or organization should always be aware of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what you must do to improve the organizations performance;

Drucker tells us to ask -

1. What is your mission?

2. Who is your customer?

3. What does your customer value?

4. What results are you looking to achieve?

5. What is your plan?

He encourages the reader to further explore, analyze, assess, determine and develop in and around those five questions:

Explore….the five simple, yet essential questions

Analyze….your organization’s mission, which should be a short, sharply focused statement that tells
everyone why you do what you do, not how you do it.

Assess….who your target customers are, who and what influences them, what they value, how you can create satisfying experiences for them, and which customers you should stop serving.

Determine….what specific results your organization should be striving to achieve, and where you should focus for future success.

Develop….your organization’s plan, which must define the particular place you want to be as well as the budget and action steps that will enable you to get there.

These notes are from my previous review of this book posted at In-the-Box: Reading Well.

To that end...

Book: "When Character Was King: A Story of Ronald Reagan" by Peggy Noonan

What a great book!! I try and read a book about Reagan every two or three years and this has to be the best yet with God and Ronald Reagan in a close second.....ok, almost as good.

This isn't just a good read, but a pleasant read. If the author's intent in writing this book was to show how much she, Ms. Noonan, really cared about Mr. Reagan, she gets an A+.

Obviously, it helped that Ms. Noonan knew the Reagans and those close to them for years, but even so, few people can make words seem so real. This is the first of Ms. Noonan's books I've read and it will be interesting to see if she can accomplish such a feat again.

Read more at In-the-Box: Read Well blog


‘When I watch one of my pictures, I pay attention to what the audience doesn’t laugh at. If several audiences don’t laugh at a stunt, I tear it apart and try to discover what’s wrong. On the other hand, if I hear laughter I hadn’t expected, I ask myself why that particular thing rang the bell with the audience.’  - Charlie Chaplin.

Born into poverty, he signed the first million dollar contract as an entertainer. Charlie Chaplin fully believed he was successful because he was teachable. Not because he had an extraordinary gift or talent. Many just as gifted and talented go to their grave never having used their talents nor their gifts.

Chaplin perfected his gift. It was at the height of his career that he was known best for replacing complacency and arrogance with teachability.

If you want God to use you, stay teachable, search out more of the kingdom within.

Maybe the best book, or 2nd best, on the Theology of Work yet

This might be the best book on the Theology of Work I've read's an insert from the What's Best Next blog -
If You Only take 5 Productivity Practices Away from This Book

Learning and especially implementing productivity practices can be hard. It is easy to forget what we learned or forget how to apply it. One remedy is to keep coming back to this book (of course!). But to make this as simple as possible, if you can only take away 5 things from this book, they should be these: 
Foundation: Look to God, in Jesus Christ, for your purpose, security, and guidance in all of life.

Purpose: Give your whole self to God (Romans 12:1-2), and then live for the good of others to his glory to show that he is great in the world.

I've read the book twice and will continue to gain nuggets for a long time to come.

Guiding Principle: Love your neighbor as yourself. Treat others the way you want them to treat you. Be proactive in this and even make plans to do good.

Core Strategy: Know what’s most important and put it first.

Core Tactic: Plan your week, every week! Then, as things come up throughout the day, ask “is this what’s best next?” Then, either do that right away or, if you can’t, slot it in to your calendar or action list that you are confident you will refer back to at the right time.

To that end......

Still staying connected to my frustration

Stay connected to your confusion and discover your why.
Most people let confusion lead to frustration and then they
quit. Move from confusion to discovery and curiosity.
Explore. - Paul Martinelli

Hearing Paul say this three years ago, I asked WHAT? And he said.........

Stay connected
to your confusion
and discover your why. Get creative.
Don't let confusion turn to frustration.
If you do, you'll quit.
Stay connected to your confusion,
move to discovery and curiosity.
Get creative. Explore. Discover your why.

Still, 3 years later after first learning this lesson from Paul, it's still.......Profound.

To that end........Bless you Paul.

Marketing. What's Love got to do with it?

What is love in business? Love is a matter of sharing
your knowledge, network of relationships, and your
compassion - or any combination of the three

- Tim Sanders, Author
People-Centric Expert!

Scott Reese and I were talking recently and the conversation came around to how to work with difficult people. Here's how the conversation went from there...


A wasted conversation with Lauren

Phone rings

Me - It's a great day, Danny Smith.

Caller - Danny, my name is Lauren. I'm a financial planner and Chris suggested I give you a call and set an appointment to come by and see you.

Me - Lauren, I'm backed up on some things for the next two weeks. Can you call me then and we'll set a time.

Lauren - thanks Danny, I'll do that.

Two weeks to the day later 

Phone rings

Me - It's a great day, Danny Smith

Caller - Hi Danny, this is Lauren. I called two weeks ago to get an appointment and you suggested I call back today.

Me - Hi Lauren. I remember, when's a good time for you.

This is a normal routine I use. I am usually backed up a bit, but normally, the caller doesn't call back.

Lauren and I set an appointment, we met at my office, she was extremely personable, professional and knowledgeable. I told her I didn't have a need for her services at-that-time but we had a great conversation and I mentioned I might have a couple of people I'd introduce her to at a later date.

She thanked me for my time left me, gave me a few of her business cards and parted.....

Normally, I'd send an email 2 or 3 days later thanking her for coming by, but I didn't in this case.

Now, weeks later........nothing.

Nor did she reach out to me between calls mentioned about. Nor did she make a point of letting me see she looked at my profiles anywhere online.

Lauren wasted our time. She wasted the handshake.

Surely the calls, the effort.........I guess she was only interested in making a sale......right then.

Obviously a very short-term thinker and doer. Commission Breath at its worst!

22 Roadblocks/Blind-Spots to Successful Sales and Marketing

Not in any particular order......
  1. Thinking "I don't have any Roadblocks or Blind-Spots" (or...not knowing what they are!)
  2. Lack of understanding of the differences between marketing and sales
  3. Trying to sell to everyone
  4. Failure to have a proper sales conversation that extends past the "what do you do" and lasts for weeks, months and years until the lead either needs your product/service or knows someone that does - difficulty staying engage
  5. Commission Breath

"Culture eats vision for lunch"

From "The Heart of John Maxwell" series.....

Culture eats vision for lunch. It's more important than mission, vision or strategy. When people ask me if there is a secret to developing a really good company, my answer is always the same: "Yes, develop a good culture." How the people in your organization behave is your culture, and it reflects the company's values. If you have created an environment conductive to personal growth, wherein people understand how they connect, how each person makes a different in the life of another, well then, you are accomplishing more than a mission, vision or strategy every could" - John C. Maxwell

Who are your Roys?

I love hearing from old friends and one showed up in my inbox a few months ago. Roy Whitlock replied to my blog post about roadblocks and blindspots where I wrote about  “Perfectionism / Getting ready-to-get-ready and anything worth doing was worth doing poorly until you learned to do it right."

Now, to begin with, I can see Roy walking into my office and asking what he wrote in his email -  “I understand getting past roadblocks - but how does one find one's own blind spots? For example, your point #10 - how do you determine the point where "Getting Ready" becomes "Getting Ready to Get Ready"? And if something is worth doing, isn't it worth doing well? Won't doing it poorly start to reflect on your service delivery?” And on he went.....

Roy and I used to have some really good conversations. LOL……As to his plethora of questions (he rarely had just one)….here’s my response  -

Getting ready should be short and sweet. "When opportunities come up, it's too late to prepare."

Alert and oriented times........?

I wrote recently about “failing faster” and mentioned a John Eldridge quote. Here’s the whole thing about

“Most people go through life alert and oriented times 2 or 3.”

When a Coast Guard jumper goes into the water he (or she) is miked-up and upon securing the person being rescued, will radio back up to the crew the condition of the person being rescued.

He'll say “Alert and Oriented times 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5.” 

If someone is not alive, literally dead, the message will be “alert and oriented times ONE, I repeat, alert and oriented times ONE.”

Times TWO is – alive but unconscious.

Times THREE is – conscious but no awareness.

Times FOUR is – conscious, in and out of awareness.


John Eldridge in his fabulous read “Waking the Dead” claims most people go through life…

……Alert and Oriented times TWO or THREE.

To that end ….

be alert and oriented today TIMES FIVE. Be ALIVE.


Failing Faster

" I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
Thomas A. Edison

(thanks to Mark Petticord for reminder
about this quote)

Have you ever really considered how much failing helps? 

Used with permission -
Not that anyone likes failing, BUT, we’re all going to fail. Right? If we aren’t failing we aren’t trying. Right?

I gave a talk on Monday that started with a quote from John Eldridge –  

“Most people go through life alert and oriented times 2 or 3.”   

That’s on a scale of 1-5; 2 is alive-unconscious, 3 is conscious-unaware...5 is FULLY ALIVE

My talk ended with “Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you can do it well." That’s mine, or at least I claim it......I have no doubt I heard someone say it or I distorted something someone said to make it fit my philosophy!

Either way, I really want to live life alert and oriented times FIVE (fully aware) when I’m being creative, thinking about better ways to do things, following someone who has succeeded before me…trying to figure our HOW to do what they’re doing….

Jim Collins, in Good-to-Great, likened this to THE HEDGEHOG CONCEPT. Maybe I should say, this practice is my interpretation of the hedgehog concept.

Back to failing….there's a big difference between failing and being a failure.

It’s through failing, we grow, we become more. We can have more. Everything you've ever accomplished in your life, from what you're barely competent at to what you've mastered, it's all been accomplished by the process of failing.

As a baby, you learned to walk because you were persistent in failing at it. You learned to ride a bicycle because, because, you were persistent in failing at it.

I bet you’ve never accomplished anything of value without failing at it first. No one in history has… inventor, no discoveries, no medical cures,

But you were NEVER a failure because of it. On the contrary, by being persistent in your failing at those activities…

…you became a master of them.

 What is it you want to do or do better?

Mastery comes to those who are willing to persistently fail. And yet the willingness to fail is one of the most difficult things for people to do.

To that end….be sure you do something today you don’t know how to do and fail at it.

And then fail it again, only faster. And again, faster and faster and faster.

Dressing up for a pity party, and the animal level of awareness

I heard something this morning that I really needed to hear. Paul Martinelli reminded me that….

“there’s a difference between being aware and judging.”

Pondering the last few days, looking at what I’ve done, not done and the causes of those effects, I thought “my time management sucks.” Later, out on a walk with Bubba and listening to a call I missed last week, Paul, in his answer to someone’s question said “there’s a difference between being aware and judging.”

I really needed to hear that because I’d been judging myself. I’d been thinking “what the heck, why didn’t I come right back to the office Wednesday morning after that appointment?” What’s the deal with not going to the hospital to see John between appointments yesterday? That was stupid.” There were a few other choice phrases as I thought back through my calendar.

But, I needed to be aware. Right? I need to recognize the problem. Right?

Right, and right.

But I can be aware without judging myself.

Hopefully, I’ve been through this enough that a discipline would have eventually kicked in and I would have recognized the pity party I was dressing myself up for. You see, I’d slipped into an Animal Level of Awareness; Level #1, the lowest level of awareness. This is where we operate on instinct, blaming circumstances, existing conditions, others and our environment…anything to keep from thinking and acting on change. We even blame ourselves.

Everyone expresses this level of awareness at times, but it’s only healthy, it only serves us well when we’re conscious of acting in this way. As an example, when you watch, read or hear the news…….how much do your react? Where do you allow those opinions influence your decisions? Does it depress you, tick you off, you want to react and rant?......or do you simply get the information, see what’s happening in the world and move on?

How are you feeling about what you’re reading right now?

How about your week? As you evaluate and correct (step 8), how have you done? What was good, what was bad, what was better?

My time management does suck, but I don’t suck. That part of my behavior needs improvement.

Be aware, think into what you want, but don’t judge yourself.

Move forward, be purposeful, knowingly.

To that end….