Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bring it on!

I have now officially attended my first cheer competition.  I am already a veteran "dance mom", and there are some similarities between cheer and dance competitions (most notably the moms living vicariously through their children... but I digress).  As I watched the competition, I could compare the teams as far as which ones stayed together, how many stunts were dropped, and whether I personally liked the choreography.  I was at a loss, however, in comparing difficulties of skills.  I knew that our team had a tough routine (so I had been told), but it was difficult for me to compare.
I couldn't help but notice when a team dropped a stunt - it's like watching a skater hit the ice - it's hard to miss.  Because I am familiar enough with the potential injuries that happen when a stunt falls out, I sat, not hoping for other teams to fail, but for our team to "hit" with greater difficulty.  I wanted our team to win because they were the best, not because other teams had a rough day.
I think many have forgotten this in real life.
In politics, each party hopes for the other to fail, so that they look better.  Instead of working together, they work against one another.  The problem in that, is that we are still one country.  When one party fails, the country fails.  It used to be that once a president was elected, it didn't matter who you voted for, this was your president.  You got behind him, supported him, because he was leading your country.  Now, at any given time, about half the country is working against the president, or the party in the majority.
In real life, you have got to understand that working with a team, a group, a family, with anyone - can accomplish so much more than struggling by yourself, or working against others.
Win because you tried your hardest and did the best, not because others failed.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Psychic Vampires

Psychic Vampires.  Chances are you know at least one.  You know who they are... the ones that are always complaining... always have some crisis happening... always in the middle of some kind of drama...
Hopefully, you try to avoid these people at all cost (and hopefully, this is not you).  But sometimes they are more difficult to avoid .
With the holiday season upon us, I have just a few words of advice:
1- Keep time with the Psychic Vampires short.
2- Avoid "hot" buttons.  Topics, old wounds, etc. that don't need to be brought up.
3- Always have an escape route (whether that means another room, a walk outside, an errand to "pick up ice", or another obligation).
4- Look for the good.  Whether it's your health, that you have enough food, a warm place to be or that you can be together with the non-Psychic Vampires, ENJOY those things.  Don't dwell on the crummy parts.
And maybe a garlic necklace wouldn't hurt - that tends to keep everyone away!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Plan B... Plan C...

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Robert Burns

"Life is all about how you handle plan B." Suzy Toronto
Leadership is all about how you handle plan C and D.

We can plan.  We can forecast.  We can insure.  We can control some things.  But, stuff happens.  For instance, just this week, I was part of a fantastic Holiday Open House event.  There were displays, prizes, activities, food, etc.  It was well attended, we had great feed back, we did solid business, but we had one "oops".  We had planned for an additional activity.  I had personally prepared much of the supplies.  Somehow or another, part of the supplies didn't make it to the venue.  What to do?  Freak out?  Try to put together more supplies at the last minute - during the event?  We chose to let it go for this event.  We put it away.  Of course, we will try to re-work the supplies (when we find them).  But we couldn't let one "oops" color what turned out to be a terrific event.  And you know that others looked to me as to how to re-act.  We were calm, cool and had a great time.  Plan C.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Secret to leadership

The secret to leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow. ~Godin

Do you lead a company, a family, a church, a group of volunteers or a community?  Do you believe in what you do?
Do those you lead share your vision?  Have you shared your vision?  Can you share it clearly?
Are you doing what you need to do, regardless?  Even when it's hard?  Even when no one is looking?

Don't just talk the talk.  Walk the walk.  There's a difference between telling others what to do and inviting them along the journey with you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Franchise opportunity

As I read several blogs and forums relating to direct sales, I'm fascinated by those who complain, complain, complain.  They want something, they get it, but they want it different.  They sign on to a company, but don't like how the company dictates this or that.
Direct sellers - imagine you owned a franchise... let's say "Subway" (Subway is a registered trademark & only being used as an example).  You have your location with the pretty sign, all of your food is purchased through your company, you have a fairly standard menu and you get to choose to participte in national advertising and pricing.  And, you have to sell a significant number of sandwiches to retain your franchise.
As a customer, I know that I can walk into any Subway and get a BMT that tastes almost identical to any BMT I purchase at any other location.  I know what I'm getting.
So what if Subway franchise owners put the name on the door but didn't follow franchise rules?
As a customer, I may have a bad experience and never go back to any Subway.  Maybe 1 Subway offers cheesecake, and then I'm disappointed with the others who don't.  Maybe my BMT has half the meat, or a different combination of meats, or uses a different supplier, so I don't know what quality I'm getting.  Maybe my sandwich is on plain, sliced white bread (horror!).
As the franchise owner, why would I stray from the plan?  Would I try to do my own tv ads, knowing that I can't use the trademark in them (even if I don't care for Jarrod)?  Would I put my sandwiches on Ebay or Craig's list - calling it "catering" - even though my agreement says it must be done through my store?  Is it "fair" for the company to not allow me to deviate from the plan?  What if the franchise owners request cheese soup for the menu, Subway provides it, but complain because they wanted "Wisconsin" cheese soup?  Because I don't like something does it make it OK for me to not honor my (legal) agreement?
I have 2 thoughts:
1- The company invests a lot of time, money, study & effort to provide franchisees with a quality product and plan.  They need to protect their brand to ensure consistency throughout their company.  Do they sometimes have a bad idea?  Sure.  I've seen the menu change quite a bit over the years.  Do they have shipping problems?  More than once, my sandwich has missed tomatoes (or lettuce) due to shortages nationally, shipping problems (high gas prices) or just over-selling the product ordered.  How arrogant, or ignorant, would someone be to think that they could do everything better than a huge team providing them with their franchise opportunity?  And how much more work would it be?
2-  If you're so much smarter (better, faster) why aren't you running your own company?