FranklinCovey Consultant Blogs | Todd Wangsgard | Uncategorized
When Jack Dorsey decided everyone should have a credit card merchant account in his or her pocket, he ignored the critics. Now just 4 years old, Square has revolutionized the way small businesses do business. Even the casual artist or hobbyist can hawk wares from the trunk and accept plastic as payment right from her cell phone. This credit card payment aggregator was shunned by big banking. Jack’s thought? “We design what we want to see in the world rather than doing what other people think should be done.”
Companies like Organovo are combining two extremely unrelated fields of science to give organ failure patients new hope. They are refining the emerging science of 3-D printing using a medium – human tissue and cells – that can replicate and grow with an organ transplant recipient. Imagine needing a kidney and a printer laying one down for you within hours, layer upon layer of immuno-compatible cells, that can be ‘installed’ by a surgeon.
These and other entrepreneurs are featured in the May issue of Inc. magazine – examples of revolutionary, collaborative thinking that shuns boundaries and monetizes common sense.
How about your organization? What does your customer want that you are uniquely qualified to deliver, but aren’t? What would make their life easier; how could you tweak, alter, reform your product or service to give them what they need?
As a consumer, let me start with my own two cents.
When will airports have treadmills or weight machines in the terminal for health-conscious travelers enduring long layovers?
Why isn’t the back panel of my cell phone a solar panel that keeps it perpetually charged?
Why do I have to go to the DMV to register new vehicles, when I can take a picture of a check and deposit it remotely into my bank account?
You can take it from here.
When a back seat driver complains about the speed or tactical maneuvers being deployed by the driver, Larry and I share the same mantra: “I’m not wreck less. I’m efficient!” Larry will get you safely from point A to point B; you just may prefer not to look up during the drive.
For more than 30 years, Larry Reynolds, a Client Partner at FranklinCovey in the greater Kansas City area, has devoted his career to bringing people and organizations closer to living the values that they profess. However, not once did I ever hear Larry profess his values. Instead, I quietly watched as he lived them. Larry reminds us all of the lesson taught by St. Francis of Asssi when he said, “Preach the gospel at all times and, when necessary, use words.”
Larry is a model of those principles that have made our company and its founders stand out all these years: Integrity, Kindness, Professionalism, Respect, Hard Work, Excellence.
I had the thrill of working (and driving) with Larry soon after he and others hired me on as a Senior Consultant back in the summer of 2007. We would often drive together to clients in Wichita, Des Moines, Topeka and other equally exciting destinations. It was during those hours of driving, listening to Larry weave his yarns of company history, client challenges, and personal philosophy that I was quietly tutored by a master. I soaked it in. I knew, that with his tenure, experience and manner, I was in the presence of greatness.
Larry shared stories of his own brushes with greatness. He is, after all, a very close friend and associate to our company’s co-founder, Hyrum Smith, the legendary creator of the Franklin Planner. Many years ago they and their close colleagues set out to conquer the world. With Hyrum hawking binders and planner refills out of his trunk and Larry staking out sales territory around the Midwest, they brought their passion and proven principles of effectiveness to a historic level of ubiquity. I mean, who hasn’t at one time is his career owned, cherished, and slept with a Franklin Planner?
Larry is in the process of retiring this year. I say process, because he won’t simply go away. He has moved to a part time arrangement, partly because he loves what he does and partly because he’s very good at what he does. We can’t afford to just let him ride off into the sunset. Then again, the way he drives it will be more of a gallop.
His clients and colleagues will miss him dearly.
“What information consumes is rather obvious. It consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” These words seem to confirm our observations of modern day life and the distractions that technology and information have become. They’re even more impressive when you realize they were said by Nobel Prize winner, Herbert Simon, in 1971! If information was creating this poverty then, how poor must we be today?
In her book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, Maggie Jackson writes, “The way we live is eroding our capacity for deep, sustained perceptive attention. As we cultivate lives of distraction, we are losing our capacity to create and preserve wisdom… and slipping towards a line of ignorance that is paradoxically born of an abundance of information and connectivity.” In other words, being more connected and informed is creating more ignorance and less wisdom.
Many people call themselves great multitaskers, as though that term were a badge of honor. It comes from the 1960s when computer programmers learned they could code a computer to perform two or more applications simultaneously. However, you and I are not computers. Humans are hardwired to take on tasks sequentially, not at the same time. Our brains cannot pay full attention to two things at the same time, especially as the nature of the tasks become more complex.
Then, we also become much less efficient when we try to bounce back and forth between assignments, without spending dedicated time (20 minutes or longer) on just one. Experts call the increment of time required to go back and forth between tasks “switching time.” When computer programmers get sidetracked or move spontaneously to another task, switching time takes an average 25 minutes before they get back into the flow of coding that they were in before the interruption, if they even get back at all.
Additionally, we’re less and less connected to those who matter most in our lives, when we attempt to multitask or move our attention around too frequently. Admit it. You’ve looked past the person talking to you to glance at your computer screen for any incoming messages. How did you feel the last time you were on the phone with someone and your heard the clickety-clack of their keyboard in the background. When we should be having a “human moment,” as specialist in ADHD Dr. Edward Hallowell calls it, multitasking sends a loud and clear message to the other person: “You’re not worth 100 percent of my attention.”
We need to slow down. We need to pay attention. We need to think more deeply. We need to say no to the superficial. As Maggie Jackson describes it, “We are allowing ourselves to be ever-more entranced by the unsifted trivia of life. To value a split-focus life… is above all to squeeze out potential time and space for reflection. In the name of efficiency, we are diluting some of the essential qualities that make us human.”
Not trying to be cute here. It’s a fact.
Research continues to confirm the benefit of your body’s natural impulse to take a break. The Industrial Revolution has stretched both time and resources as thin as possible. Yet our time is finite, and the western way of doing more with less is likely giving us exactly that – less.
As early as the 50s, researches such as William Dement and Nathaniel Kleitman discovered the “circadian rhythms” of our sleep. These typically 90-minute cycles, it turns out, continue into our waking hours. We can generally give our full focus and energy toward an assignment or project for about an hour and a half before our bodies demand a break. Instead, many of us reach for an artificial stimulant to keep on going. What we don’t understand, is that the additional work that comes from plugging on yields increasingly diminished returns.
In his NY Times article, Relax! You’ll Be More Productive, author Tony Schwartz cites Professor K. Anders Ericsson and his colleagues at Florida State University, who have studied elite performers – musicians, athletes, actors, etc. They discovered that “working in 90-minute intervals turns out to be a prescription for maximizing productivity.”
Many of my readers and most of my clients have discovered the powerful mind-set, skill-set, and tool-set of FranklinCovey’s latest time management offering, The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity. This is by far our company’s most holistic approach to time, energy, decision, and attention management ever. We spend the last “Choice” discussing the 5 Energy Drivers, including sleep, as a competitive advantage in today’s light-speed, gadget-filled world. Our modern lives – filled with infinite possibilities, and yet relentless distractions – must be focused on leveraging our most creative and unique contributions. These can only be realized when our bodies and minds are performing at their peak. So…
Slow down and do more! (more that matters…)
After 13 years, I quit. At least for now.
In 1999 I began traveling regularly and also began staying with the same hotel chain. Out of convenience and the quickly-growing loyalty points balance, I stuck with the same chain, until last week. After several months of sharply waning service at the primary property I’ve been staying with lately and a single straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back moment, they lost my business.
The decision is one that I had pondered several times. But I felt beholden to them, simply because we had experienced such a lasting union. I’m guessing this break-up is sort of like a woman deciding to ‘break up’ with her hair stylist and change to someone new. (I know of what I speak, since my wife is a licensed cosmetologist.) You may have wanted to switch for months – maybe years – but the thought of having to tell your stylist/therapist that you’re leaving is really uncomfortable, right?
My break-up wasn’t quite that hard.
Last week I had such a negative late night experience upon check-in that I immediately checked out and booked a room at the competing chain across the street. The standard post-checkout survey that arrived in my in-box yesterday gave me the perfect chance to explain why I am leaving. I must give them some credit, though. Not 5 minutes after clicking ‘Save,’ I had a voice message from the property’s general manager, urging me to call her and discuss my experience.
My point here is really this: How much is your loyalty worth? In dollars? How much is your undying loyalty worth to Coke, Southwest Airlines, Apple, Comcast, Target, Costco, USAA, Harley Davidson? I recognize I may have just mentioned a brand that you absolutely would NOT patronize, but you understand my point. Over the past 13 years of frequenting the same hotel chain 90% of the time, I estimate that I have stayed over 1,000 nights with this brand. That equates to a grand total of about $100,000 in gross revenue from a single guest! Will they miss me?
I believe the greater lesson here is this. We all need to know how valuable our customers’ loyalty is to our brand. Are we treating every customer interaction as that ever-important last impression? Every interaction has a cumulative impact on the trust your customers have in you and your reputation. Give them a reason to come back, no matter what. Fact: The more likely your customers are to recommend your product or service to others, the more your organization is likely to grow. Of course, the opposite is also true. The less likely someone is to recommend what you have to offer, the more likely your business is shrinking. › Continue reading
As I type, I’m watching a barrage of news coverage on the confession of Lance Armstrong to Oprah Winfrey surrounding his career-long lying about his use of banned substances to achieve hero status as the seven-time Tour de France champion. Was he sincere? Did he come clean? Can we trust what he said? Will he ever recover his reputation? Can he regain some level of credibility?
In his book, The Speed of Trust, Stephen M. R. Covey posits that when trust is lost it can often be regained much more quickly than people think, especially by making and keeping promises. Is Lance’s situation different?
Stephen also defines trust as confidence, born of the character and competence of an individual. These are further subdivided into “The 4 Cores of Credibility:” Integrity, Intent, Capabilities, and Results.
Where are Lance’s ‘4 Cores’ today?
No one doubts that Lance developed his natural capabilities to compete in endurance racing. He had successfully won a string of triathlons during his late teens, arguably clean. His Results speak for themselves. Yes, he’s admitted that the EPO (blood-enhancing steroids) that he used gave him an edge. But it’s likely he still would have been a force to be reckoned with. Some argue that in a sport as dirty as cycling at the time and especially among the elite racers, it was a level playing field.
What I believe will be the bane of Lance’s future attempts to regain his credibility is attempting to recover his bankrupt Integrity and Intent (motives). I believe in the principle of forgiveness. I believe in the importance of righting wrongs to rebuild trust. People generally deserve second chances. But when one intentionally lies to one’s most ardent supporters and harshest critics for as long and angrily as Lance did, integrity will be very difficult to come by. When one blacklists and disparages one’s closest friends, friends’ families, and allies, it’s hard not to question his apparently deep, selfish motives or Intent.
It almost seems that as much time that has past since the lying began must yet past before we can begin to measure what Integrity and Intent has been regained. Can he rebuild his credibility? Ask me again in 2025.
Everyone loves a hero who overcomes. We especially were mesmerized by the cancer survivor who came back to win the Tour de France 7 times in a row! But over this decade-plus long history of use and aggressive lying, so many of us were eager to come to his defense. Now we all have egg on our faces. More like a full omelet.
No words can adequately describe the horror that ensued last Friday morning at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. I even felt sheepish in attempting to blog about any part of this inexplicable tragedy. Yet being a father of a 7 year old myself, I felt compelled to share a few simple thoughts I’ve had that many of my readers may relate to. It is the simple experience of seeing my 1st grade daughter in a new light and hugging her tightly before she got on and after she got off the school bus today.
Politicians will posit new ways, including gun-control measures, to prevent such future failures to protect our children. Parents will demand answers that only one person could have given completely – answers he unfortunately took with him to his grave. The 24-hour news cycle will introduce experts from every angle, willing to prescribe possible motives and solutions. All of this doesn’t improve anything in my immediate circles.
One thing that I do know, however, is this: I can choose to cherish every moment with loved ones that I am permitted to go on living.
My heart grieves when I consider the pain and anguish that the Newton community is going through. I will not allow their loss to be in vain. If nothing else positive comes of Friday’s events, every parent, grandparent, sibling, child, teacher, coach and friend should be ever more sensitive to the needs of those around him or her. I resolve to be more patient. I will take the time to listen, without prejudgment. I will relax when the house isn’t perfectly clean, and probably take a few minutes to mess it up with my kids. I will never let my loved ones pass out the door without knowing how much I love them and remind them of the same upon their return.
If you love ‘em, hug ‘em!
I saw a news story today that featured an educational program for children that discourages any ‘screen time’ until the age of 3. The argument is that kids (and adults, for that matter) are bombarded by so much virtual screen stimulus that they are deprived of interacting in the real world. The author of the program cited studies that show kids are at risk of becoming obese, lacking in interpersonal skills, and failing to develop physically when they spend too much time in front of the TV, on the computer, or drawn into other forms of virtual media such as tablets, PCs or laptops.
The prescribed program encouraged more reading of board books, interaction with mom and dad, other toddlers, and the real world of more tactile stimulus.
This past week we took the kids to Disneyland. Sure, it’s arguable that Disney is one of the foremost purveyors of ‘screen time’ media, yet the original park/resort offers an abundance of opportunity for kids to communicate more interpersonally, to get some much needed exercise (how many times did we crisscross that resort, anyway?) and to feel the world around them. In fact, the very first activity that my 4 year old son and I experienced was the simple pleasure of touching a goat in the petting zoo.
In what ways is your screen time pulling you away from more important activities? How is it potentially preventing you from experiencing the ‘real world?’ In what was has this virtual addiction become a substitute for the relationships that really matter? Perhaps the end of another year is the perfect time to reconnect with the basics in life: family, friends, a walk in the park, the touch of a furry pet, the warmth of sunshine on your face.
After all, the basics are called that for a reason. They are the basic experiences, essentials, building blocks of a rewarding, fruitful, and effective life. Let’s all go back!
Tomorrow my friend and colleague J.D. Frailey will accomplish an amazing feat of human greatness. He will complete a goal, now 30 years in the making. Sometime during the early afternoon hours on Sunday, November 11th, he will cross the finish line in the Marshall University Marathon in Huntington, West Virginia. No, this isn’t his first. This will be J.D.’s 50th marathon in all 50 states!
Check out this cool story on him in his local newspaper.
We all aspire to do great things. Our collective confidence grows when we see others pull off big goals like this. So, in J.D.’s honor, what big goal has been lurking in the back of your mind that you can begin today? No matter how long it takes, we’ll all be there to cheer you on, too.
Last week I had the privilege of delivering a good-news presentation on behalf of a regional client to their larger corporate, North American counterparts. They were gathered together, in part, to learn about the client’s great success with improving employees’ trust in management over the past 4 years. Prior to engaging FranklinCovey with the solution, this client location’s ‘trust in management’ scores had been in sharp decline.
Together, representatives from the client’s HR and management team, along with a group of dedicated consultants and sales professionals at FranklinCovey, mapped out a potential process to turn the culture and scores around. Senior management devoted countless hours to kick-off speeches for each group of workshop attendees. Hundreds of frontline and mid-level managers completed a 10-week-long program to study and implement trust and leadership skills and tools. They specifically committed to improving one or more challenges in their areas of responsibility. Participants finally delivered formal presentations to senior leadership on their own ‘case study’ and shared improved 360-degree assessment scores.
Bottom line: This client saw a more than 17% increase in trust scores on the latest plant-wide employee engagement survey.
A 10% increase in trust scores has the same effect on employee satisfaction as a 36% increase in pay.
You can imagine the client’s satisfaction with the new scores and their counterparts’ intrigue with the possibility of replicating those results back home.
Another researcher who is referenced in Stephen’s video found that trust was the key driver of employee engagement.
Are you part of an organization whose trust is suffering? Are you responsible for influencing the level of trust within your organization? Would you like to see more trust working for you, generating measurable, bottom line results? I’m waiting by the phone to talk…