Suck It Up Butter Cup and Keep Moving Forward

Loser 1Nothing ever goes exactly the way it’s planned, so get over it. It’s called life – and life is full of surprises. This thing we call life is a work in progress. There will always be mountains to climb, valleys to trudge through and a number of detours to navigate around along the way. You can’t change what was – so there’s no sense wasting your valuable time or energy in trying to do something that can’t be done. If you aren’t happy with the hand you’ve been dealt , then it’s time to suck it up butter cup and keep moving forward. You don’t have to be held hostage by your past if you cut the chains that are you holding you back and chart a new course.

#Worth Remembering … Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. – Joshua J. Marine

The only person getting in your way, of you truly being happy and leading the kind of life you envisioned for yourself – is you. Once you decide to make a change in your life, you’re already half way there. Once you decide you want more out of life – you will find a way. You already have what it takes to be the champion of your life. Motivation is inside out – never outside in. You don’t need any other stimulus to help you accomplish your goals. All you need is to believe in yourself, that you are capable of doing what ever you set out to do. All you have to do is believe.

#Worth Remembering … Don’t let the concept of change scare you as much as the prospect of remaining unhappy. – Timber Hawkeye

Take a moment and write down three (3) things you’d like to change. Three things that you believe would make you truly happy. Take a look at the three things you’ve written down and decide which one is most important to you. Which one will give you the most satisfaction? I want you to write it out in big bold letters and post it on your bathroom mirror. I want you to read it out loud every morning while you are getting ready to take on the day. Do something every day, no matter how small, that will help you reach that goal. You will stumble – everyone does. You will get down on yourself because things aren’t moving as quickly as you hoped. That’s life’s way of testing you, to make sure it’s what you really want to do. Hang in there. Be patient and just keep plodding along. You will eventually make the kinds of changes necessary to live the life you envisioned for yourself.

Copyright (c) 2016. Brian Smith – #Reformed Control Freak. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit

Soft Skills for a Hard Place

millennials-200x192Daniel Goleman in his groundbreaking book “Working with Emotional Intelligence” might have said it best: “We are being judged by a new yardstick; not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how we handle ourselves and each other”.  Times have certainly changed. I think there has been a dramatic shift in people’s attitudes. Their wants and needs are changing. For the first time in our lifetime we have the potential of working with 4 different generations in the same workplace at the same time. Each generation communicates and interacts differently and want to be managed and manage differently. Each generation have a different set of values and career aspirations. For the newest generation – the Millennials – life outside of work is just as important,  if not more important,  then life inside work. Each generation is motivated by different things. What you need to decide now is – will the management style that got you here – be the same style that will sustain you or get you to where you need to go? Is one style of managing and leading others good enough?

Worth Remembering … “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing – expecting a different result” – Albert Einstein

Productivity is still the name of the game and that will never change. One of your roles as a manager or leader has always been to minimize the input and maximize the output. In today’s ever-changing, competitive global marketplace you need to produce more with less. Your survival and your company’s survival demands it. To accomplish both – managers and leaders must change from being task-focused to being people-focused. People like to work with people they like. People like to feel wanted. People like to feel that they are appreciated and respected.

Worth Remembering … “One of the most important things about being a good manager is to rule with a heart. You have to know the business, but you also have to know what’s at the heart of every business and that’s people”. – Oprah Winfrey

Technical skills are important but, for the most part, you can get that out of a book or Google it. What is needed to be successful managing and leading others in the 21st Century are soft-skills, sometimes referred to as people skills. Successful managers and leaders will be those who have developed great soft-skills for a hard place. Successful managers and business leaders are F.O.C.U.S.E.D. (C) on their most important asset – their people.

Friendly: Someone who can smile and say hello. Someone who can make the other person feel important.

Observant: Someone who can recognize those that need help and those that don’t. Someone who will get out of their way and let them do the job.

Consistent: Some who is consistent in the way that they apply policies and procedures. Consistent in the way they treat people and deal with situations.

Understanding: Someone who tries to see things from the other person’s point of view. Empathy is a valuable 21st Century skill to have.

Sincere: Someone who truly wants their people to be successful at what they do. Managing and leading others is a team sport – create win-wins.

Energized: Someone who is enthusiastic. Someone who looks and acts like they want to be there.

Dependable: Someone whose word they can depend on. Someone they can trust. If they can’t trust your word they won’t trust you.

Are you F.O.C.U.S.E.D.?  🙂

Copyright (c) 2013. Brian Smith-PLD. Brian is the author of “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them”. Looking for a speaker? Planning a lunch-n-learn or organizing a workshop? Contact Brian.


You Couldn’t Pay Me Enough to Work Here 3

bxp59950Staff engagement – it’s rarely about the money. They stay because of the people they work with. They stay because it’s a fun place to work. They stay because they see an opportunity for advancement. According to a recent survey conducted by Aon Hewitt, employee engagement in North America is at an all time low – down to 63% of the workforce. If those numbers are accurate that means 37% of your employees are not engaged, they are just going through the motions, or worse yet, they are actively disengaged, and our bent on trying to undermine what you and your engaged employees are trying to accomplish. That means 37 % of your staff have turned off or have tuned out.

Worth Remembering … “Get to know your people, what they do well, what they enjoy doing, what their weaknesses and strengths are, and what they want and need from their job” – Robert Townsend

What are you doing to retain the talent you have? Every organization has an identity – a culture that is best described as the values, beliefs and attitudes that are shared by everyone in the company. It starts at the top and trickles down. It never starts from the bottom and trickles up. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos believes that if you get the culture right, then a lot of really amazing things happen on their own. What are you doing to engage the hearts and minds of everyone in the company? Answers to exit interviews conducted by the Saratoga Institute and outlined in Leigh Branham’s book “The Seven Hidden Reasons Employee’s Leave” may hold a few clues. According to those surveyed “Workers felt devalued and unrecognized, workers suffered from stress due to overwork and work-life balance and there was a loss of trust and confidence in senior management”

  • You’ve got to give people a reason to stay.
  • You’ve got to make them feel part of the process by soliciting their input.
  • You’ve got to communicate often by letting them know how well they are doing
  • You’ve got to let them in on your plans for the future, where they fit in and where the organization is going.

Worth Remembering … “One of the most important things about being a good manager is to rule with a heart. You have to know the business, but you also have to know what’s at the heart of business and that’s people.” – Oprah Winfrey

What are you doing to attract new talent? Everyone is competing for the same recruit. Why would someone want to work for your company instead of your competitors? And remember it’s not about the money. You just can’t sit back and throw money at them. At some point you won’t be able to pay them enough money to stay. According to a 2012 Bersin survey, $720 million per year is spent on employee engagement without much of a return on that investment.  If you want to attract new talent then you need to understand what they are looking for in the companies they choose to work with and commit to changing the way you communicate and interact. Life outside of work has become just as important, if not more important, than life at work. Especially among Millennials who will make up 50 % of the workforce by 2020. What are you doing to promote a healthy balanced life-style?  Advancement should be based on merit not on seniority. What training dollars are you willing to invest in their future? If you aren’t willing to invest in them, then don’t expect them to invest in you. Do you have a mentorship program? Have you identified your next crop of managers and enrolled them in your management development program? Can they work at home or do you offer a flexible work schedule? Company mission statements, values and code of conduct should be more than just fancy platitudes. You and everyone in the organization need to “live” them.

  • You’ve got to give people a reason why they would want to work for you
  • You’ve got to make them feel part of the process by soliciting their input
  • You’ve got to communicate often by letting them know how well they are doing
  • You’ve got to let them in on your plans for the future, where they fit in and where the organization is going.

I hope you are starting to see a pattern here? People are people – it doesn’t matter what generation you are from – we all want the same thing. We want to be seen and treated as partners. We want to work for an organization that wants us to be successful and are willing to invest time, energy and resources in us. And we want to work for an organization that makes us feel valued and trusted. 

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith – Reformed Control Freak. Looking for a speaker? Planning a lunch-n-learn or training session? Let’s talk. To find out more about Brian and what he can do for you and your organization visit –

The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century 3

images (1)It doesn’t matter what environment you work in – retail, manufacturing, construction or the corporate world, the challenges remain the same. New leadership skills are required for the workplace of today and the next decade. Your success as a manager or business leader is no longer dependent on your technical ability alone. Soft-skills – your ability to communicate and interact more effectively with others, now plays a more pivotal role in your success and the overall success of your organization. It doesn’t matter what book you read, the workshops you participate in, or the seminars you attend, know for certain that there are no silver bullets here. Unless you are committed to a new way of managing and leading others you will get left behind. The workplace is changing and if you don’t adapt to keep pace with those changes you stand the risk of falling by the wayside.

Do you feel at times that your staff are turned off or have tuned out? Is it getting more challenging to motivate others? Are you finding it difficult to attract or retain talent? You are not alone. Gallup’s ongoing survey findings indicate that 70 % of workers are not engaged. According to Gallup   “Millennials are most likely of all the generations to say that they will leave their jobs in the next 12 months if the job market improves”. If you want to re-engage the disengaged and attract new talent then you need to master the art of managing and leading in the 21st Century.

The Four Step Leadership Development Model (C)

I believe the key to retaining and attracting new talent is to develop and fashion your leadership style around these four easier said then done disciplines:

Congregate: People work for people they like. Learn how to build collaborative teams and develop those all important relationships.  No one is successful by themselves. Together everyone achieves more. Always keep in mind that you need your people a great deal more than they need you.

Communicate: If you can’t communicate, then you can’t manage or lead others. If you can’t communicate in a language that others will understand – then whatever you say will mean absolutely nothing. You can never communicate too much. Be open and receptive to what others have to say. Give your people a voice.

Educate: People aren’t born knowing what they need to know – it’s a learned behavior. It’s your responsibility as a manager or leader to teach them the skills needed to take the organization to where it needs to go. Take the time to discover what your people do well and then put them in positions where they can play to their strengths.

Delegate: Surround yourself with people who do some things better than you do. You’ve got to give up control to get control. If you aren’t sharing some of your responsibilities with the people around you  – you are robbing them of their opportunity to grow. Resist the urge to micro-manage.

Copyright (C) 2013. Brian Smith. Excerpts taken from Brian’s soon to be published second book – “Leadership Lessons from a Reformed Control Freak – The Art of Managing and Leading in the 21st Century” (C) To find out more visit