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Ryan’s Journal: What Motivates Us?

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017


I touched on this a bit last week with regards to what motivates people. It’s different for all of us of course, but there is something that drives us.

Whenever I am particularly candid with myself, I find that fear of disappointing others is always high on my list. But I also have a drive to be unique.

Sometimes I look at lists that show how only a few people have achieved something and I make it my goal to join that group.

A bucket list item of mine is to climb the seven summits. These are the highest peaks on each continent. Very few have done it as it requires an immense amount of time and money. I figure if I can accomplish that then I have done something right in other areas if my life. Enough about me though.

What motivates others?

I had a conversation today with a fellow sales rep. She has been successful in the past couple of years and has accomplished some life goals. One was paying off debt. That’s a big one. She also had her eye on a few personal objects, one being a Rolex.

Last year she said she had the ability to finally buy one and not feel guilty. I realize most out there probably have other priorities, but this was hers.

As she began her search for a Rolex that would fit her tastes she was surprised to learn that her company had went ahead and purchased one for her as a gift.

Her boss had overheard her saying how she wanted one and decided to reward her hard work by giving the Rolex as a gift. My friend said this was the most meaningful item she had ever received in her career.

When I asked why she said it wasn’t because of the watch. It was the fact that someone took the time to listen to her, remember what she said and care.

Her boss didn’t have to give the gift, but they understood that we are all motivated in different ways. For my friend that motivation was to feel validated.

As I go about my week I am going to take the time to see what motivates those around me.

What motivates you?

Image credit: hypo-physe

Ryan’s Journal: Why Does Culture Matter?

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

http://www.fairwarning.com/For those of you who may have read my introduction I stated that my main question I want to always ask is ‘why’.

I learned this mostly through trial and error as I entered the workplace. I had the opportunity to see this inside of companies and organizations and better understand what made them succeed, or fail. The simple answer was and continues to be culture.

Why have some companies with all the talent in the world failed? Why do some people address hardships with a will to succeed rather than sit back and wallow? Why do those who have made it to the top of their profession continue to push themselves? I think it boils down to the mindset of the individual, who then influences the greater group.

I work within the MedTech industry, specifically within the cybersecurity sector. My company, FairWarning, looks at user behavior to determine who the bad actors are, so that you can have confidence that when you seek treatment your records will remain confidential.

You would expect that due to the fact that our mission is to determine who is stealing data and identify it our leadership would treat most people with suspicion. It is only natural, we see bad actors everyday! However, that could not be further from the truth.

I had an opportunity to speak with our leadership about why that is. How is it that the organization which only exists to prevent abuse and misuse of confidential materials can not have a negative outlook on life and people?

The answer surprised me. My company is privately owned by our CEO who founded it. He has the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps through hard work” mentality. He told me that his outlook on life stems from the fact that as an individual you can always make a choice to do the right thing moving forward.

A person always has the opportunity to start today with a clean slate moving forward. The expectation is that every day should be better than the last. Now this doesn’t mean there are no consequences for actions, but it does mean that there are no lost individuals. That at the root of it is the culture of my company and it influences every action I and my teammates make everyday.

Why does that one mindset impact the rest of the group?

Part of it, of course, is the fact that he started and led the company successfully. The other part though, which, in my opinion, matters more, is that he has remained consistent and transparent.

If he only applied that mindset to people selectively or didn’t live it himself then it would not truly be culture. It would be some mission statement that sounds great but has no impact.

As I continue exploring this topic I will speak to others about what influences their decisions and how they came to those conclusions.

Until next week continue asking and seeking.

Image credit: Marko / Zak

Golden Oldies: A Simple Productivity Secret for Managers

Monday, June 20th, 2016

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time.

We all know change is the only constant, but is change linear? Does everyone see changes the same way? Does it even matter? And if it does matter, how does it affect your work as a manager? Read other Golden Oldies here

jump_vectorsThe other day I said to a friend that I’ve turned into a real wimp. He thought I was kidding and said that I was the last person he associated with wimping out on anything.

I was surprised, but as we discussed it I realized that what I saw as wimpiness he saw as strength.

That got me to thinking how often what one person calls wimping out may be another person’s greatest act of courage. Likewise, what moves one person can leave another cold.

It’s all relative depending on your MAP, the circumstances and even the mood you’re in.

Sounds obvious, but it’s important knowledge, not information, but knowledge—maybe even wisdom—for any person responsible for motivating others, whether at work or in everyday life.

Image credit: nookiez CC license

Ducks in a Row: Culture and Moods

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014


Good mood; weird mood; bad mood; silly mood.

We all have moods and those moods affect everything we do.

Moods are affected by all kinds of stuff, such as the weather.

Good weather = good mood; bad weather = bad mood.

In turn, our actions reflect our mood, rather than reflecting the real world; take online restaurant reviews

“The best reviews are written on sunny days between 70 and 100 degrees,” researcher Saeideh Bakhshi concluded. “A nice day can lead to a nice review. A rainy day can mean a miserable one.”

Likewise, the culture created by each boss actively effects moods, thus having a profound effect on workers creativity, productivity and a slew of other attitudes.

Bad cultures create negative moods.

Negative moods can lead to a procrastination doom loop, in which an individual perpetually delays important tasks while waiting for an angel of inspiration to visit.

When you’re the boss, no matter what you say or how you squirm, the culture that exists in your own organization is a direct result of you.

Flickr image credit: kuhnmi

Kip Tindell and The Container Store

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014


The hourly base wage for fast-food workers in Denmark is $20USD, yet McDonald’s, Burger King, etc., are still profitable.

Try to sell a minimum wage increase to just $15 and you’ll be told that it would destroy jobs and close businesses.

But, as the song goes, it ain’t necessarily so.

Despite starting out with just a $35,000 investment in 1978, The Container Store founder and CEO Kip Tindell has grown his business to one that has 67 US locations and rings up annual sales of nearly $800 million.

Equally impressive is the fact that he’s done all that while paying his retail employees nearly twice the industry average.

So what does Tindell know that other bosses of retail businesses don’t? You get what you pay for…

  • “The 1=3 rule,” i.e., one great employee is as productive as three OK employees, so he gets three times the productivity of an average worker at only two times the cost.
  • Turnover is lower substantially reducing hiring and training costs.
  • Annual raises up to 8% of their salaries, based on performance, but
  • encourages managers to evaluate employees based on their value to the company.

The result is the average Container Store retail salesperson makes nearly $50,000; about double the national average for retail.

When it comes to wages, Kip Tindell is the Twenty-first Century’s Henry Ford.

Ford astonished the world in 1914 by offering a $5 per day wage ($110 today), which more than doubled the rate of most of his workers. (…) The move proved extremely profitable…

The minimum wage war should become a lot more interesting when Tindell takes over as chair of the National Retail Federation.

It’s a lot harder to argue with success.

Flickr image credit: Tomer Gabel

Ducks in a Row: Brains and Performance Reviews

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Performance reviews are a frequent subject of management gurus, the media and pundits of every variety, myself included.

More recently the focus has been on what’s wrong with reviews and how they often act as a demotivator.

A new article in strategy + business uses brain science to look at exactly why and how reviews demotivate.


On another front, it’s Leadership Development Carnival time and the offerings are excellent. Click on over and I’m sure you’ll find information that will be of active use both at work and in your non-work life.

YouTube credit: strategy + business

Are You a Great Boss?

Monday, September 8th, 2014


What makes a great boss?

What traits do they have in common?

Obviously, great bosses are

  • excellent communicators
  • good at hiring,
  • superb motivators,
  • world-class team-builders, and
  • caring mentors

Beyond those basics, with almost no exceptions, all are egalitarians.

That basic MAP trait permeates their actions and is apparent in their communications.

Great bosses, no matter the level of interaction, speak and act with the same respect, interest, appreciation, and consideration that they would want in similar circumstances.

Flickr image credit: Celestine Chua

Saying Good-by to a Well-Loved Boss

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Do you like your boss?

Or do you love your boss?

Obviously, the global staff at online luxury fashion retailer Net-APorter loves theirs.

The company was founded in 2000 and MARK Sebba joined in 2003—not the best of times for the dot com world.

During Sebba’s 11 years as CEO Net-APorter grew to €550m sales last year, 2,500 people and a valuation around €2.5bn

When he stepped down from that role the end of July his people found an amazing way to show their feelings.

The comments at YouTube are pretty cynical; saying that he must have known about the tribute, etc., but that’s not really the point.

Watch the faces of the staff and you’ll see emotion that can’t be faked.

Whether he knew or not, his staff’s feelings are very real.

YouTube credit: Diagonal View

If the Shoe Fits: Show Your Love

Friday, February 14th, 2014

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here


Today is Valentine’s Day and a good time to consider how best to show your love for your team.

Basically, there are two ways bosses show their love, either with cool tools or magic minutes.

Think about the old saying, “give a fool a tool and you’ll still have a fool,” which is frequently forgotten in our tech-happy world.

For discussion purposes, the term ‘fool’ denotes an underperforming person or group.

Showing your love by showering them with the latest, greatest technology or apps is unlikely to turn the fools around.

That’s where the magic minutes come in, because the majority of fools really aren’t fools.

They’re more like lost souls looking for a path to productivity, personal satisfaction and success.

Most people want their company to succeed, want to do their work well and want to feel good about what they do.

And whether you like it or not, when you chose to found a company you took on the duel roles of leader and manager.

That means your real job is spending whatever minutes are required to guide them to the path out of fooldom and into becoming an appreciated member of a powerful team.

It’s also one of the most important and satisfying experiences you will ever have no matter what happens to your company.

Image credit: HikingArtist

Entrepreneurs: Craig Bohl Wins without Stars

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/982534Parallels are constantly drawn between business and sports—building and motivating teams, leading in all its many guises and, of course, the importance and power of stars—whether first round draft choice or coder from the hot startup.

I am not a believer in stars and have written numerous times on why they are a bad idea.

I frequently told I’m wrong, especially sports-wise; I’m told that every winning team has stars or they wouldn’t be winning

Not true and thanks to Craig Bohl, North Dakota State’s football coach, I have someone to point who has a very winning team sans stars.

Since 2011, the Bison have posted Division I’s best winning percentage (36-2, .947), slightly ahead of Alabama (33-2, .943) and Oregon (32-3, .914). N.D.S.U. has beaten four Football Bowl Subdivision opponents in four years, most recently the defending Big 12 champion, Kansas State, in this season’s opener on Aug. 30, and is 7-3 against F.B.S. teams since 2006.

Bohl’s understands that with the right attitude and hard work he can build his own star team.

“A lot of our guys come from the farm or hard-working backgrounds, and we’ve leveraged that as we’ve developed our football team. It goes a little counterculture to the way college football is now, with spreads, up-tempo offenses and all those other things. We’ve taken a blue-collar approach on playing hard-nosed, physical, disciplined football, great defense, controlling the football. That’s how we’ve won.”

He’s pragmatic; he doesn’t believe his winners have to walk on water; they just need to be damn good.

“I don’t think there’s a team in the country that would absolutely destroy us, 70-0, or anything like that. Obviously, there are teams that have more talent than we do. I won’t deny that either. But I think we could hold our own with a lot of teams out there.”

Bohl’s approach isn’t rocket science, other than few other coaches want to bother building a team this way or prefer splashier players whose glory can provide a halo effect for coaches and teammates alike.

While Bohl qualifies as a star, and there is constant talk about who will lure him away, he doesn’t seem to be interested.

And he stays for the same reason talented employees always stay.

“When you find a place that fits your value system, the allure of ‘what the big time is’ is not such a big hook.”

Image credit: Ilco

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