Winners Want the Process, Not the Prize

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“The summit is for the ego, the journey is for the soul.”

You know when you’ve had a long day, or an argument with a family member, or even when you’re celebrating a promotion and you circle around the dessert table and after about seven minutes you pick up a brownie and take a bite and then you keep eating it and you don’t even know why and you don’t taste it anymore (it doesn’t even taste good!) and you’re only feeling pissed at yourself for having taken that first bite in the first place!?

You know what I’m talking about. And you know why you get so pissed eating that brownie? Because you let your mind win! You had goals, needed to stick to your nutrition or training plan, and you talked yourself out of it. You gave in. You didn’t earn it. You broke.

We live in a world of instant gratification and overnight successes. There is an illusion that the faster, easier, less complicated way is better. But it’s not. I guarantee that if I gave you all $1 Million right now you might appreciate it for about an hour (okay, maybe a week); you will think your dreams have been realized and that you got the feeling of success you were after – but that’s just not true. You didn’t earn it. If you don’t earn it, it doesn’t feel nearly as good. In fact, you may even get depressed or frustrated by being handed what you thought you wanted. What you were really after was the growth, the learning opportunity, and the experience, not the cash!

Let me give you a couple of examples. Did you know when people win the lottery, that they are in a worse off financial position after 10 years than before they won!? It’s because they did not earn the right, they did not become who they needed to be in order to handle that kind of money. The same happens to professional athletes. Have you noticed how many go bankrupt? They are handed million dollar contracts without having gone through the girt and grind of building a financial model or the financial knowledge in order to manage it properly.

Whether you eat a brownie that you weren’t supposed to, had an unexpected windfall, or took off three unplanned days of workouts, it might feel good in the moment, but you are going to be kicking yourself later.

Being handed what you think you want is never really what you want.

Success is hard; it’s a struggle. This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this, but I think it bears repeating. Those “overnight” successes? They worked their asses off. You have to choose your struggle. Choose what you will say no to, and consequently, choose what you will say yes to. When you look back ten years from now and see the struggle, the grind, the success, the failure, the results, the setbacks, etc. that you had along the way you will be thankful for those experiences and the journey. I never fear losing money or going bankrupt, because I know that I have the knowledge and skills to build it back up again, no matter how fall I’ve fallen. Because I’ve done it before. If success had just been handed to me, I wouldn’t be able to say that, nor would I have the confidence to go out there, take risks, write checks, and break necks.

You’ve got to earn the right to success. Sure, it gives you more credibility in the marketplace, but more so, it gives you the confidence you need to get shit done and to weather the storm. On your journey you must find models (and role models), systems, and rules to guide you which all starts with daily habits and activities. It’s not going to be easy, but nothing really worth having ever is. Find the biggest and best habits to support your journey, your struggle, your growth, so that when you do get there, when you do earn that right, you’ll be able to enjoy every bite.

 

Lessons From the Finish Line: What I Learned From Completing My First Ironman

Well, my first Ironman has come and gone. Nine months of discipline and training for 10 hours, 50 minutes, and 43 seconds of pure execution. People keep asking me what it felt like to cross that finish line. Did I feel relief? Or euphoria? Or pride? Or a sense of accomplishment? Or joy? I guess I felt a little of all of those things. I was honored to be able to run into the oval and see my coach, John Spinney, my beautiful wife, Sarah, my parents, my brother, and my friends. But as I stepped over the finish line, and before I even clicked STOP on my watch, I mostly felt like I needed to sign up for another Ironman. I feel like I have more to do, more to accomplish. I’m not done with Ironmans, yet. And yes, I’ve already registered for the Lake Placid 2018 Ironman.

So, let me take you on a little journey through Ironman #1 and what I learned along the way.

PRE-RACE PREP —> All around me people were crazy nervous getting ready to plunge into Mirror Lake. Right before the swim, I sat down to stretch my feet and the kid next to me was shaking. Nervous energy comes out in weird ways for people and was pouring off the people around me. I stayed calm. I actually slept really well both nights prior to the race and was just grateful to be there, to be racing with all these incredible athletes, to just be physically able and ready to compete. I credit a lot of my calm state to my mediation practice. I’ve been practicing TM for several years now and it not only helps clear your mind and calm your body before you put your face in the water to swim 2.4 miles, but it helps in any business or life situation. Meditation helps you stay calm, which enables you to gain clarity and solve problems faster. We all know that when life hits, it’s about how you overcome those obstacles – either on the race course or in the board room, it doesn’t matter. Ironman training has given me a unique structure to push me to the next level of my emotional fitness, which ultimately just makes me a better father, husband, leader, person.

SWIM —> My swim time sucked and I’m committed to improving it for Ironman #2. I got caught in the middle lane and got slapped around a bit, but generally it wasn’t too bad except for when my goggles got kicked off on my second lap and I had to stop. Don’t ever stop in the swim lane! I learned that real quick. It was hard for me to get back into a rhythm on my second lap, but I just kept grinding and pushing through. Because that’s just want you do. I was very excited to get back on land where humans belong.

BIKE —> The first transition is long, but a great little run to get your legs ready for the bike. The bike ride was amazing – not much wind, perfect conditions, and closed to traffic. I felt super strong on both laps of the course and the time flew by. I had 3 or 4 bad patches during the hour and 20 minute swim, and only one bad patch during the five hour and 20 minutes of biking. Not bad! I was anticipating these bad patches – I knew they would show up and I knew they would go away, so I was able to keep working until I hit a good patch again. That’s such a great analogy for business and life. Rough patches show up and it’s about how we overcome them – do we show up, handle them, and push through or do we retreat and give up? Some days the wind is blowing in our favor and sometimes it’s a shit storm. Are you working constantly on your mental and emotional fitness so that these bad patches don’t derail your business or your relationships? I know I am.

RUN —> I was fired up and feeling strong after the bike and the first 5k of the run is mostly down hill so I was flying. One of the QT2 coaches basically stopped me and told me to slow the f*!k down. I looked down at my watch and I was at a sub 6-mile pace. So, yeah, I had to put on the brakes and back down to around 8 which is what my coach had set for my opening mile pace. Control my speed and maintain. Running a marathon after already swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles can be daunting to think about, so I broke it down into manageable tasks. In my mind – 26 miles just became 26 sets of one mile runs (thank you to Tim Snow for that little piece of advice!). I’m not going to lie, the run hurt. But I just focused on what I had practiced in training and just executed. The training, the practice, and the emotional fitness is what makes a top business leader. It is what makes an Ironman.

Overall, the Ironman was a day of celebration. My mantra throughout the day was, “My fitness will carry me through.” I was saying that a hell of a lot, especially on the second lap of the run when shit got real tough. I wasn’t nervous because I had practiced my emotional fitness, meditated, and put in the time. I knew I wouldn’t give up. It wasn’t even an option. The cool thing with Ironmans is that there isn’t any magic here. You’re not going to show up the day of the race and all of a sudden be a different person or be 10 times better than you were in training. Instead, you create who shows up on race day based on the level of intensity and disruption you create during your training days, weeks, and months. Actually, the biggest mistake people can have at Ironman is trying to be someone they are not on race day – going out too hard, thinking you can go harder than you can, instead of focusing on the execution of each activity. Being able to access your preparation and potential on race day is critical and that happens from mental control and emotional fitness. If you get too hyped up on the big day and put too much external pressure on yourself (like hitting a specific time) you can get paralyzed. It’s about the emotional fitness and the execution.

The emotional fitness and the mental challenge during nine months of intense training is much harder than it ever is on race day. Race day, the adrenaline is flowing, you’re excited, you have your family and 18,000 random people cheering you on, and you are about to compete. This is what it’s all about! The race is the easy part! It’s the six 100+ mile bike rides, the 20 mile runs, the 5000 yard swims week after week that suck. You’re all by yourself. No one is cheering you on. No one is motivating you. Embrace it. It’s a freaking grind and requires extreme amounts of focus, discipline, sacrifice, and time. But that is where athletes are made. They are not made at the finish line. They are made long before that, during the hours of training. Testing your limits, getting outside your comfort zone, experiencing the next level of you is what life is all about.

And by the way, this is what business is all about. It’s the day in and day out of how you show up. The number on your tax return or your next promotion are purely a result of the daily activities that you do. This is the grind, the hustle, the ability to be fearless and relentless, not for a short period of time, but every. damn. day. If you focus on your execution, you’ll be able to access the drive and clarity that you need. You’re not as good as you think you are on your best day and you don’t suck as much as you think you do on your worst day. You are who you are (physically, mentally, emotionally) in that moment based on the person you created through daily habits. You shape and control who you become. It’s easy to see it in the physical world, such as sports, but we sometimes lack clarity or vision to see it show up in our social, financial, spiritual, and professional self. This is why the daily activities, the daily habits are so important. Daily habits are who you are!

Want to know the secret to success in the Ironman, in life, or in business? Focus on the daily habits and activities that you can control. Commit to them and practice them over and over again over a long period of time. And when it’s time to step into the arena – draw upon all of your training and execute.

5 Tips to Keep New Hires Engaged Before Their Start Date

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Finding talent is hard (which is why I attend and teach a course several times a year designed to teach me how to recruit and hire). Keeping them excited and engaged when you’ve got them on the bench for five years is even harder (and the topic for another post). But, what I want to talk about today is what to do once you’ve made a hire, but there is a delay in their start date (for example, if they are moving across the country, need to give 30 days notice at their current job, or are waiting for a major bonus before making the move).

In the past three years alone, Adam Hergenrother Companies has attracted talent from Utah, Florida, Maine, Texas, Colorado, Alaska, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Minnesota, Connecticut, as well as all across Vermont. The majority of these top candidates did not accept our offer on a Friday and start two Mondays later. Nope. Some of these candidates accepted an opportunity at our company and then joined us 30 days, 60 days, or even several months later.

The potential is pretty high for an employee to back out of an offer when they delay their start date more than a couple of weeks. But there are several things you can do to mitigate that risk. You’ve invested a lot of time and resources finding the right hire (or at least you should have!), it’s not going to hurt to put in a little extra time and effort to keep them engaged, excited, and ready to hit the ground running on their first day.

Here are 5 ways to keep your new hire engaged before their first day:

  1. ASSIGN A POINT OF CONTACT —> This can be the hiring manager, your HR coordinator, the employee’s new supervisor, or a team member who’s been working at your company for a while. It doesn’t really matter who it is, as long as the new employee has one point person who can answer all of their questions. These are probably not going to be compensation or job specific question. More often than not the new employee is going to want to know how long it will really take to get to the office in morning traffic? Do people bring their lunches or go out? Who should I email for XYZ? Are ties really optional? Having someone to answer these questions and someone they know will be a friendly face on the first day will work wonders in keeping the new employee connected even though they won’t be starting for 1-3 months. It is also the responsibility of the point person to check in once or twice a week via email, phone, or text to see how they are doing wrapping up their old job/packing up their house, make sure they have given their notice in the time frame they had originally indicated, make sure they are still excited and their mindset is right, as well as communicating any relevant information from the company.
  2. INCLUDE THEM ON TEAM COMMUNICATION —> Once your new hire is made, let the team know that they will be joining and when. In the meantime, start CCing them on everything relevant (and non-proprietary). I think this is a great way to get them feeling included immediately. Not only are you giving a new hire a glimpse into the assignments and projects that they will be working on, but on how the team communicates. Giving the new hire insight into the work load and work flow, gets them thinking about the company as theirs. It may even spark a brilliant idea that they can bring to the company and implement on day one. It also teaches them some of the language and culture of your company. Make sure you let them know that they aren’t required to participate, it’s just a way to get their feet wet as they make the transition.
  3. GET THEM INTO THE COMPANY RHYTHM —> Whenever possible, get your new hires on any calls or meetings that they can be on. One of our companies has a morning power-up and a weekly CEO call. Perfect. Have them dial in and listen. If there are monthly company meetings, either invite them if they are local or have them Skype in. Get as many daily, weekly, or monthly calls/meetings on their calendar as possible and have them jump in whenever they can. They have accepted the offer and want to be a part of the team – so get them connected and experiencing the rhythm of meetings, check-ins, etc. as quickly as possible.
  4. INVITE THEM TO TRAINING —> Whether it’s a live training, a webinar that someone from your team is hosting, or a national conference – get your new hire there. Again, it’s simply another touch point, a way for them to feel a part of the team, to start getting a feel for the work, and to understand the culture. Even better, they will get a jump on some of the company training before their first day. That’s a win-win for both of you.
  5. TAKE THEM TO LUNCH —> Lunch, dinner, cocktails, coffee… it doesn’t matter. Get your hiring manager or the new hire’s supervisor and the new employee together in an informal setting and let the conversation flow. This should be the same person as the point of contact in point 1 (and maybe even bring along a couple of other key team members). If this is a new hire that is relocating, instead of lunch, you could schedule an evening Zoom call when everyone’s relaxed and not distracted by the minutia of the work day. This is the opportunity for the new employee and the supervisor to bond early on and help the new hire prepare for their first day.

Okay, I know… this definitely seems like a lot, but you don’t have to do everything and in fact, your staff will do most of it! Pick one or two things that will work for you and that fit into your company culture. It’s worth the time to nurture your new hire and bring them into the fold, especially when they won’t be starting right away.

Now that you’re armed with these tips, don’t ever let the timing of a new hire stop you from bringing the very best of the best into your world. Top talent will be ready when the right opportunity comes their way. Top employers will wait a few weeks longer for top talent if they have to.

3 Ways To Be Relentless in Pursuit of Your Goals

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I finished Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim S. Grover last week and I can’t stop thinking about the book. So much of what Tim talks about resonated with me – the hunger, the drive, the desire to accomplish more, better, faster.

This quote really stuck out to me: “Being the best means engineering your life so you never stop until you get what you want, and then you keep going until you get what’s next. And then you go for even more.” That’s being relentless.

Some people hear the word relentless and it sparks a fire in their belly and lights them up! Others, hear relentless and immediately conjure up images of destruction and mayhem and ruthless Spartan warlords. Good or bad, being relentless is a core part of my being. And it’s a double-edge sword. Or maybe, it’s just one coin with two sides… Relentless means never giving up until you get what you want, but it also means you may disregard the consequences and hurt some people along the way. Results first. Always.

The author of the book, Grover, worked with professional athletes – mostly NBA players like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. Those guys were relentless. They showed up and did the work and listened. Those were Grover’s only requirements. And that’s exactly what Kobe and Jordan did over and over again. They were not satisfied with one practice a day, they hit the gym three times. They were not content with one championship ring, but kept pushing until their hand was covered with them. Hours after hours of practice at one thing. They did not slack off. They did not back down when it got too hard. They put in the time, withstood the grind, and became unstoppable.

Being relentless means getting results and not settling for good or great, instead spending the time on mastering your craft and becoming the best – becoming unstoppable. The really cool thing is that anyone can be relentless, but very few people ultimately have what it takes to get there. Because it takes time! It’s about who can stay in the game long enough – who can finish the job. Anyone can start something when it’s new and shiny and exciting, but very few can stomach the grind and keep going in order to finish.

Do you have what it takes to be unstoppable? Here are 3 ways you can become relentless in pursuit of your goals:

  1. DO THE WORK —> You don’t have to love the work, you’ve just got to do it and love the results. Believe me, I don’t love getting up at zero dark thirty to train for four hours, but I do it because I love being able to beat my last race time (okay, I also love landing in the top spots in my age group). It sounds so simple, right? Do the work. Put in the time and effort. You’ll get there. Sometimes, you’ve just got to do shit you don’t want to do in order to get what you ultimately want. But it’s the hardest thing to do. The real challenge is being able to combat your voice that tells you to go for the short term reward, instead of pushing through, doing the tough stuff, and going for the long term win. It’s not about winning one championship or building one business. That’s great. Being relentless means doing that six more times. And that requires a hell of a lot of work.
  2. BE OBSESSIVE —> I think the question is, “What are you willing to be the best at and give your all to?” You can’t give your all or be extraordinary at everything. What are you choosing to be the best at? Do you want to be the best father, the best golfer, the best leader, the best guitarist, the best dog rescuer? In brief moments you can be the best at more than one thing – like when you’re speaking to an audience or riding a bike with your kids. But to truly master something, to be the very BEST, you have to get obsessive. One area in your life, one skill, is going to overshadow all the others because that is where you are going to be spending the most time – practicing, studying, analyzing those that have come before you and modeling after them. You will become addicted to learning about that one thing, you become obsessed, and that’s how you become the best.
  3. GET COMFORTABLE BEING ALONE —>  You know that old saying, it’s lonely at the top? Yup. When you’re relentless, you don’t make a whole lot of friends. You’ll have a small inner circle of people you trust and that’s it. You won’t go to office parties and after work drinks with the team or even linger too long in the break room. And you won’t hang out for too long at kid’s birthday parties or family gatherings. You have shit to do. You want to be the best and that takes deliberate time and attention. People are going to thing you’re an asshole or that you think you’re too good for them. It’s not the case. You just have your eye on the prize and you’re not going to let anyone get in the way. You’re running your race – fast – and if people want in, they’ve got to get in the race with you and run along side you. There will be very few people at the finish line with you. And that’s okay.

So are you relentless? Do you want to be? If the answer is yes, then all you have to do is put in the time and do the work, get obsessive about the one thing you want to be the best at, and get comfortable being alone. Everyone has the potential to be relentless, but only a few will actually get to the level of being unstoppable.

What Really Goes on Behind the Scenes in Business

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Over the long holiday weekend, we broke out the classic Wizard of Oz for a family movie night. What a completely different perspective you have watching that movie as an adult. The Wizard was nothing but an illusion and Dorothy had the power within her all along to go home, she just had to believe in herself (and go through a musical self-discovery along the way). One quote really stuck out to me: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Pretty similar to how we think about business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s all pretty and shiny on the outside, like tech apps that are being valued for billions of dollars, but produce no revenue, or the celebrity culture of all beauty and no substance. Nobody wants to talk about what is going on behind the curtain, behind the scenes.

But, let me tell you, as a business owner and entrepreneur, behind the curtain of a new office building, top national rankings, and a dynamic brand, it’s one hot mess. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Appearances can be freaking deceiving. When I’m up on stage receiving an award for our company’s success or asked to teach a class on business building, I often feel like a fraud. Sure, I’ve had some success and I’m incredibly proud of my team and how far we’ve come, but it is a shit-show behind the scenes. When I’m speaking about living a life without limits I make it a point to pull back the curtain and share the failures and struggles we have had. We are no different than anyone else. I am not smarter, faster, better looking, more innovative, or more business savvy than anyone else. There is no secret sauce to success. It’s work. Hard work. And hustle, and grind, and late nights, and a whole lot of messes, and lawsuits, and more work. What does give me an edge, though, is my refusal to give up and my ability to keep pushing through the mess and make it work. That, anyone can do.

The Wizard put on a good show. And don’t get me wrong, things are supposed to look good on the outside – it’s how businesses continue to attract talent, make sales, increase the bottom line, and basically have a business. But you’ve got to remember that behind the scenes shit gets messy. No one who has accomplished anything of significance has it easy. But it’s a hell of a lot easier to just believe that successful people were handed things, because really, who wants to hear that it requires a lot of work over a lot of years? It’s the hard work and the mess that no one really wants to talk about… but it’s actually the mess that means the most.

Let me give you a couple of examples:

  • The mess might be employees leaving – but that just means the ones who stay are loyal and can handle helping you build a massive business.
  • The mess might be customer complaints – but that just means that you need to double-down on your systems and streamline your customer intake process. In the end, better for your team, and better for your customers.
  • The mess might be restructuring your organization for the 11th (or 53rd) time – but each iteration is getting you one step closer to the model that will give you the geometric growth that you are looking for.

Take the time to grind through the mess and refine NOW, and in 3 years you’ll have a well-oiled machine cranking for you. That is what no one wants to see or talk about. Success takes time!

But you can’t be afraid to pull back the curtain on other businesses and most importantly your own. I say, you should pay a whole lot of attention to the man behind the curtain; that’s where the biggest lessons for success (by learning from failures) can be found. You should want to see and hear the truth. Maybe you decide it’s not for you after all and that’s okay. But maybe, just maybe, seeing the truth of what needs to be done to build a business and life you will be proud of gives you the clarity and inspiration you need to keep grinding.

You are not the only one who feels like a fraud. You are not the only one who keeps failing. You are not the only one who has been at it for four years (or ten). You are not alone. There is a whole lot of mess that goes on behind the scenes, but if you can get right with that and keep on pushing, you will win. You will win because you never gave up.

5 Ways to Be a Corporate Talent Scout

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Any football fans out there? You know there are only 11 players on the field at any time, right? But have you noticed that teams have 53 players on the roster, and 46 of them dress for the game? That’s like having three back-ups for every position on the team. Do YOU have that many team members or employees on the bench or in your organization? The concept for building a professional sports team is brilliant. You’re never missing a player, you’re never out of the fight, because you have depth! And the crazy thing is, each team has several scouts looking for people to add to their bench for years. Scouts will start following athletes in middle school to watch their development, analyze their skills, and see how their character develops. Middle school! Most business owners or hiring managers throw out a job ad and hope to be able to secure top talent from the 10 resumes they receive. There has got to be a better way.

Here’s my suggestion: Let’s be corporate talent scouts. Let’s build a bench so deep that we never get our job back and we are never held hostage by our employees. You think if Tom Brady left there wouldn’t be someone else to take his place? Let’s think about our business like a professional sports team.

Here are 5 ways you can be a corporate talent scout:

  1. Build a Brand and Attract Talent —> You have to build a brand (which is nothing more than what the public thinks of when they hear your name). How strong is your brand presence? Do people know who you are and what your company stands for? When you hear Google, Starbucks, Apple, Amazon, GMC, GE, IBM, etc. certain images and words immediately come to mind. Do you think any of those companies have trouble attracting talent? I don’t think so. Those companies know who they are and who they want in their organization. You must work to develop a strong company identity and communicate it often. The stronger the brand, the less you will have to recruit and search for talent, and the more they will just want to come to you to be a part of your world.
  2. Leverage Your Existing Network —> Your friends, family, employees, vendors, and business partners know you better than anyone else. Who better to know who would fit into your organization than them? You must be communicating with them constantly about the opportunities in your company so that you leverage them to be scouting talent for you. The trick here is to make sure you are working with the best business associates, your top talent, and your most well-connected and influential friends. Talent associates with other talent. You don’t want to ask your mediocre attorney who they know who might be talent. You want to ask the best attorney in the state who they know. This is not a one way street. Do what you can to help them in return – send talent their way, connect them with a potential client, cross-promote their business on your marketing platform. The more you engage in this give and take, the more people they will send your way.
  3. Teach and Train —> Talent invests in themselves and their education. When you spend a day training on leadership or time management or sales, who shows up? The people who want to take their business to the next level, the people who are looking to improve their career, and the people who are looking for another opportunity (even if they don’t know it yet). Whether it’s in person or via a webinar – train often. If you have a room of 100 people, and you do this often enough, you’ll be able to quickly identify who is talent. Who’s asking great question and is engaged in the conversation? Who is waiting for the next coffee break and who is staying late to set up a time to talk? Who is connecting with your team in order to find out more about your business? Whenever you can, bring your team to these events. They are another set of eyes and ears to see who stands out. Another great place to teach is at your local colleges – a breeding ground for talent. Give out your email address and see who actually reaches out. You’d be surprised how few do, but those are the people you want to connect with, roll into an internship program, or bring on board. And finally, hold a career night. Those that show up are eager to learn about improving their careers, learn about your organization, and connect with a strong company. From that, you will likely find one or two people who you will want to move through your hiring process.
  4. Create an Internship Program —> See potential talent in action and see if they have what it takes. Some of the most prevalent feedback we get from people in our company or those that have come and gone, is that they have never seen a company that moves as quickly as ours. Someone can tell you all day long that they thrive in a fast-paced environment. But their fast and my fast may be light-years apart. Get them in and get them moving in your world to see what they are made of. Great interns will be eager to learn and aren’t there just to fulfill credit requirements. This is also a great way to see if they could move into an entry-level position in your organization. Scout them young and move them through the ranks.
  5. Build a Bench of Talent —> Between your brand, teaching, and training, internship programs, and your network, you’ve now got a lot of talent on your hands. Too much talent for the number of open positions. So, what do you do? Build a bench. These are people you know you want in your world, you just may not have the right opportunity right now. Tell them that and then put them into a very comprehensive follow-up system where they are getting monthly newsletters about your organization, invitations to career nights and training events, updates on new opportunities, and regular email and phone call check-ins. The word talent feels like a commodity, but true talent is rare. You do not want to miss the chance to bring a talented individual into your world because you met them, and then forgot about them for a year, until you actually needed to pull them on-board. Set up a drip-campaign and stay connected. Remember, professional sports scouts may be in contact with someone for years before the athlete ever get a chance to play. You’ve got to do the same.

Recruiting and finding talent is a long game. You may have your eye on someone for years before the right opportunity becomes available. It’s your job as a leader to identify talent and then make sure you stay connected.

But there is one caveat to all of the above. If you find a true empire builder – someone who will change the trajectory of your organization – then don’t wait. Get them into your world right now. If they are truly an empire builder you won’t have to wait for the right opportunity for them, they will end up creating an opportunity for themselves and for you. They are probably going to scare the shit of you and be more talented than you in a particular area. Identify that, get over yourself, and get them into your world. That’s what a corporate talent scout does.

The 3 Most Important Things a Leader Must Do

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At some point in your entrepreneurial journey, you’re going to wake up and realize that you no longer have a job. Okay, that could be because you built up your company and sold it, but more often than not it’s because you have surrounded yourself with great talent and you are no longer needed in the day to day operations of your company. You might be bored, you might feel inadequate, or you might start causing problems in your business just to have problems to fix (I’m not the only one that does that, right?).

Sure, you may not be working in the business any longer, but it is still your “job” to lead the organization. You are no longer doing the financials, making sales calls, interviewing, writing contracts, etc. So, you show up to the office and do what?

Here are the 3 most important jobs of a leader:

  1. CAST THE VISION >>> Sharing the vision with your team and with the public can not happen enough. It is your job to spread the vision through every conversation, every interaction with the media, through social media, marketing, and branding. Teaching and training is one of the best ways to spread the vision to a wide audience. Some people will love it (and you) and some people will hate it. But by sharing the vision you will attract the people that should be in your life and who will help you grow your business. Casting the vision wide and often is your job. 
  2. PROVIDE FOCUS, CLARITY, AND DIRECTION FOR THE TEAM >>> Now, you’ve shared the vision and it could be ten, twenty years out. You’ve attracted talent who want to be on the journey with you and then see the vision… vaguely. They are excited about it, but don’t quite understand how to get there or how they are going to contribute. It’s your job to provide extreme clarity and focus on exactly what needs to be done that day, that week, that month, to drive the entire organization forward. Cultivate a culture of great questions and allow your team to push you and challenge your thinking. The vision might be crystal clear in your mind, and you’ve got to slow down long enough to explain your vision so that your team can put it into action. And then take it a step further. There are going to be stretches of weeks and months when shit is just hitting the fan. This is when you really need to double down and keep your people on track. Keep them focused on one thing. They will get off track, sometimes daily. Bring them back to the one thing that they have to do. Sometimes this means telling them to set aside a smaller project and extending a deadline to focus all their time and intention on another priority. But tell them. Otherwise, they are trying to do it all, and getting nothing done. Setting the direction and keeping your team focused is your job. 
  3. REMOVE ROADBLOCKS >>> Once your team understands the vision and is focused on the most important ways they can individually contribute to the company goals, then it’s your job to keep the path ahead clear for them to do just that. When your team needs a tech tool to increase their productivity – get it. When your leadership team needs 15 minutes to get your thoughts on a proposal they are about to send out – schedule time. Do what needs to be done to keep the train moving down the track. There is nothing worse than having your team held up because they are not getting the answers they need or they don’t have the correct software or are distracted by a minor project that can wait. Removing roadblocks is your job. 

BONUS: And maybe it goes without saying, but all of the above would not be possible if you are not constantly working on yourself, your personal and professional development, and increasing your leadership lid. You will not be able to serve others or be the leader you need to be if your own tank isn’t full. Read, journal, exercise, meditate, attend conferences, teach. Do whatever you need to do in order to grow and to keep making your world bigger so that  your team and others continue to see you as a vehicle for their success.

This may seem like an oversimplification, but I didn’t say these were the ONLY things a leader must do, but that they were the most important. As I mentioned before, at some point your job will be simply to read or to think, but make sure you are sharing what you read and learn with others. Cast the vision, provide focus, clarity, and direction, and remove roadblocks. That is your job as a leader.

 

It Only Takes 5 Seconds to Achieve Success

5 seconds

 

Last week I read The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with picking food off the floor – though in theory the concept is the same. You have 5 seconds to take action. Five seconds before your mind talks you out of it and it’s too late. This applies to anything in your life – exercise, saying I love you, asking a question in an interview, asking someone out on a date.

Let me give you an example: You see a woman you’ve always wanted to ask out and for the first 5 seconds you are ready to go talk to her. You’re nervous, your adrenaline spikes and then boom – 5 seconds have gone by and you’ve convinced yourself that she would reject you and you decide not to do anything and she walks away without even seeing you. Sound familiar? Here’s the thing though, it doesn’t really matter what the woman says! The gift is that you took a chance, took action and went for it! Maybe the woman turns out to be your soul mate. Maybe you never see her again after that brief interaction. Who cares? You did what 99% of the population doesn’t do. You broke free of the trap of mediocrity and limiting beliefs. You didn’t settle. You didn’t allow fear to paralyze you. You took action.

The problem is that most people wait for the right feeling before they will take action. Newsflash! You are never going to FEEL ready. You’ve got to take action first. Remember your physics lessons? An object in motion stays in motion. The feelings will come over time and will start to align with the action you’re taking, which will make you want to take even more action. Before you know it, you’ll have created a virtuous cycle of good feelings and great results! But the only way you feel good is to actually start moving. I wrote a whole blog about this over a year ago and it still applies. Action precedes motivation and emotion. 

That being said, I didn’t say it was going to be easy. It’s still going to suck getting up at 4:30am every day to work out. But it only sucks for the first 5 minutes or so, and then you feel great! You know what I’m talking about. You only feel great about something after you’ve taken action towards it. Most people are waiting for a feeling before taking action and it just doesn’t work! Most people see those who are taking action and assume that they love taking risks, that they love being vulnerable, that they love staying up until 2am to work on their novel. But that thinking comes from their desire to rationalize why others can do it and they can’t. But you don’t want to be “most people,” do you? Believe me, the people who are sacrificing sleep in order to crush a goal do not love it all the time. But they made the choice to break free from their own mental prison and refused to let themselves talk themselves out of achieving their goals.

Use Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule as a tool to break free from mediocrity. The next time you want something in your life – whether that is to resist the chocolate cake or to get out on the dance floor at a party – take action! 5…4…3…2…1… MOVE! This super simple principle will change your life. You’ve got 5 seconds to choose success. Get after it.

Everyone is Talking About the F-Word. But, Do They Really Know WTF They are Talking About?

fail

Look, I’m just as guilty as the next person to use industry jargon to inspire my team, recruit rockstars (see what I mean?), and share the vision and mission of Adam Hergenrother Companies. I’m playing to my audience and I know it.

Disruption. Empire Builders. Synergy. Unicorns. Talent. Leverage. Grit.
Failure (and all the various versions: Fail. Fail Faster. Fail Forward). 

Buzzwords abound in the business world particularly when you’re talking about entrepreneurship. And while I generally don’t think there is a damn thing wrong with using whatever words you need to to get results, are we really considering the meaning behind these words and using them in the right context? Or are we just tossing words around to sound like we know what we’re talking about?

This week, I want to talk specifically about the F-word: Failure. This one is pervasive. It seems like everyone wants to wear the word like a badge of honor, yet, some people still can’t seem to admit when they’ve failed. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been in an interview and asked the question, “How long would you be wiling to fail before you succeed?” and gotten a noncommittal, aspirational answer like, “I don’t really believe in failing.” Or, “I don’t think I’ve ever failed, I’ve just learned.” Really? You’re telling me that when you got a divorce or when your third business venture went bankrupt, you didn’t fail? Sure, you learned a ton of lessons along the way and are going to be able to apply those to your next opportunity. But you still failed.

Here are two things I really want you to get here:

  1. Just because you failed does not mean you are a failure.
  2. Failing forward means you actually have to FAIL!

Failing is not fun. It’s going to hurt. You’ll know it when you feel it and it won’t be easy to brush off as a “learning opportunity.”

Failure is defined as a lack of success. When you’re failing it feels like you are in the middle of the woods with a dense fog all around you and you can’t see your way out. But just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Take each minute as it comes, each hour. And before you know it, you will have come out on the other side. As long as you don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel, and don’t say, “to hell with it,” you may have failed, but you are not a failure. Keep trying, keep shifting course. It’s the actions that will determine the outcome. You fail at securing a new client? Good. Pick up the phone and close another. You fail at starting an online coaching business? Fine. Take a business course and start another. You fail at finishing in the top 10 of the Tough Mudder? No problem. Sign up for another race and train smarter.

You failed. So what? Success will come if you keep your eye on the prize. As long as you have a clear vision for your future, no matter how many times you may have failed, you’ll keep plugging away until you’ve achieved the objective. It’s in the absence of life goals and a clear vision where failure can completely derail you from ever trying again. And that is the ultimate failure.

Your turn. Time to practice your vulnerability. Share your biggest failure in the comments. What happened? And what did you do next?

 

 

Is There a Lack of Talent in the Marketplace?

chairs

As I mentioned last week, our company is in massive growth mode and with that comes the addition of new team members. The majority of my leadership staff is in the middle of hiring other Executive, administrative, marketing, bookkeeping, etc. talent. Over the past few weeks as interviews have ramped up the frustrations have come out.

I wanted to share the email I sent to my team about hiring and growth, in the hopes that it may help you gain clarity on who you need to hire and let you know you are not alone. Finding top talent is hard!

Hey leadership…

Most of you right now are in the midst of grinding through your daily responsibilities of growing a large company – which in itself is a feat! Nearly all of you are also in the process of hiring people for your team or division and/or the people that you’ve hired are now trying to hire people in order to compensate for our growth.

Awesome.

What I want people to feel and understand and what I sense is a bit of frustration with trying to hire right now is the “lack of talent” that is showing up for interviews. You all know that talent is rare, yet we think that just because we put an ad out there that talent is going to show up! Surprise…they don’t. Some of you whom I’ve hired I’ve known for 20 plus years and others have been in relationship with me for years before we got into business together.

This is why it’s so important that we are always, always looking for talent. You won’t know when you’ll need them and it takes years sometimes to find them! It’s a grind in itself. Talent isn’t hanging around waiting for you – they are off kicking ass somewhere which is exactly why they are talent. They are rare. You all are rare. Don’t lose sight of this as the entire organization grows. You will need the best people on the planet by your side as we go to war! Make sure you’re purposeful on getting in relationship with the best of the best.

The paradoxical challenge is that most people are scared to hire better talent then themselves. Interestingly, it only hurts you and your division when this happens as your own growth becomes stifled by the people you hire and conversely your own growth is lifted up by the people you hire. Your choice.

People are our number one asset. Let’s get in business with the best!

Never give up,

Adam

The conversation following this email was even better. My leadership team shared ahas and additional challenges they’ve had while interviewing. The lessons are great, but the stories are even better (I can’t share all of them here – but suffice it to say, what happened to basic business etiquette and interviewing skills!).

Here are a few of my team’s top takeaways:

  1. Never stop interviewing!!! Build a huge bench.
  2. Always go with your gut, even if the person looks great on paper, in their [behavioral assessment], in their work history, etc.
  3. It’s okay to start over again from scratch. It’s better to know now the fit isn’t quite right than 90 days in when you’ve invested all kinds of energy into getting someone up to speed.
  4. It takes a LOT of interviewing when you have high standards… but it’s worth it!
  5. It is our job to find [talent], get into relationship with them and stay in relationship with them – sometimes for years until the right opportunity becomes available.
  6. Referrals from your SOI, friends, family, past colleagues, other industry leaders, etc. are your best sources for talent.
  7. Do not compromise on your standards or try to make someone fit into a position. You know when it’s right or not.

To sum it up? Do not compromise on your standards. Do not settle for mediocre talent. You will only get mediocre results. Do not hire out of pain. Have patience. Follow the process. Do not get into business with anyone less than the best.

There isn’t a lack of talent in the marketplace. There is simply a lack of focus and time on task. It could take months or years before you find the right person for your company. But if you start looking now, when it’s time to grow, you’ll be ready.