October 27, 2011

How to Develop Talent

Talent is defined as a special natural ability or aptitude. Sometimes talent is labeled as potential, yet if undeveloped it becomes wasted. Once talent is identified, it's vital to develop it into a strength.

Let's use the show X-Factor as an example:

Coach/Mentor - Find someone more successful than you and ask them to mentor you. Since they are where you want to be, ask them to help you refine your talent. Talent needs to be invested in and nurtured. A coach can help you see your "blind spots" and keep you humble. All the top athletes hire coaches to perform at their highest level, why not you?
Measure it Against the Best - Talent never gets tested without stress and competition. Surround yourself with others as good or better than you. You'll never know how good you are in isolation. If you want to be the best you need to compete with the best. Strength and accountability rise in numbers.

Challenge Yourself - Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. There's nothing worse than underachievement. Even with additional help and perspective, it still comes down to how much effort you put forth. No one can force, motivate or push you harder than you can. Ultimately, it's your responsibility to develop your talent into a strength.

Malcolm Gladwell argues in his book Outliers that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become successful (that's 2 hours a day for 10 years!). If that's the case what are you waiting for? Make sure you find a coach, compete against the best and push yourself to greatness. Practice may not make perfect, but it definitely makes better. If you don't do the hard work, there's always someone hungrier ready to take your place.

October 20, 2011

Mind + Body Connection

Performance in sports is about 80% - 90% mental. Is work performance any different?
Athletes spend more time training and resting before they perform, what if you did the same?

Strong Mind + Strong Body = Strong Performance

As "Corporate Athletes", you and I need to train our mind and body if we want to perform at our highest level. Here's an easy way to remember how:

Visualize. Imagine your ideal outcome. What is your goal? What are you going towards? Positive thinking has a huge effect on our energy. What we choose to focus on usually happens. Add in routine breaks while you work so you can muster up short bursts of high quality productivity. Visualizing means reprogramming your mind towards the desired outcome.

Initiate. Your ability to manage (cope) your emotions will either drive or drain your energy. How will you respond to situations and circumstances that come your way? Ever see athletes listening to music before a big game? Music can be a "pre-routine" to calm yourself. Emotions exude in your body language; the way you carry yourself. Surround yourself with a support system of friends. To initiate means preparing yourself for the stress and unexpected ahead.

Perform. A combination of exercise, eating and sleeping habits (all physical). Did you know that working out in the morning actually boosts your mood for the next 12 hours? What you eat and when you eat adds to or takes away from your daily source of energy. Lastly, studies show you need 7 - 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. That may seem impossible (especially if you have kids), but it's something to shoot for. Performance is the sum total of your preparation. (Remember to give your mind and body a break after 90 - 120 minutes of sustained activity or your productivity declines.)

Performance is all about managing your energy. V.I.P. (visualize, initiate, perform). How you prepare determines how you will perform. So start thinking and training like an athlete today!   

October 13, 2011

What DWTS and Your Career have in Common

Each week a celebrity couple gets excused from the competition, but is it just me, or are the wrong people getting sent home? When you add "America's Vote", it no longer becomes about competence, but popularity. How is this similar to your workplace?

Skills are vital, but politics and popularity rule. Look around your workplace to see who gets "promoted." In DWTS, the judges play a more objective role, yet the viewers ultimately keep couples around each week. In the workplace, you are judged on more than just performance. How well do you get along with your co-workers? Do you stand out to other department managers? Have you given your supervisors a reason to look your way? Politics and popularity are part of the game. You may want to sit on the sidelines, but I suggest you participate.

Playing the game isn't about selling your soul or going against your morals. It means your job isn't just about you. It's about the organization. You can be the most skilled worker, but if you can't get along with your co-workers, do you think they will want to help you? It's important to be socially and self-aware. For example, my wife and I are frequent Disneyland visitors and it never ceases to amaze me how unaware people are in the parks. Whether they stop right in front of a crowd or let their kids run wild, they're blind to how their actions affect others around them. Today, take a step outside of yourself and think how your actions affect others. 

Your career is much more than experience, skill set and performance. Those are all very important, but remember how much "people" are involved. Some of the best leaders don't carry a big stick. They don't need to be the best performer or the smartest. Think of the best leader you've had...they were probably great listeners, cared for people, humble, confident, etc. Instead of thinking of how you can get ahead, pause and ponder how you can help others around you. What will you do to raise the level of your team?

October 7, 2011

How Zappos Changed the Game

A couple of years ago, my wife and I took a tour of Zappos in Las Vegas because I wanted to meet their coach at the time, Dr. Vik. I was impressed how they picked you up at your hotel, dropped you off for a 1-hour tour of the company and brought you back for free! You may have heard of Tony Hsieh, CEO and author Delivering Happiness. What you may not know is Zappos started as a shoe company, but what turned them into a billion dollar company was their core values.

Take care of your employees and they will take care of your customers. Simple, yet revolutionary.

Currently I'm working with a business development team, Status Gro, and they're helping me formulate a business plan. Since I've never tackled the hard questions about my business, it's a challenging process, but I understand the importance. As for all the things we've worked on so far, I'm the most satisfied with our core values.

Relationships First by valuing our relationships with employees and customers first, we will create long, genuine relationships that are about more than making a profit

Be Uniqueacknowledge and express the unique contributions your strengths and style can make

Be Efficientwe will constantly evaluate our work processes and priorities to work smarter

Create Freedomit is important that we allow enough flexibility for our staff to get things done, their way

Constant Growthwe will encourage our employees and customers to constantly challenge themselves to continue setting goals and pursue learning opportunities

Creating a culture before you hire employees attracts the right type of people. My core values are centered around my strengths. Core values are behaviors that shape the organizational culture. Whether it's your personal or company brand, core values matter. Don't wait until you need them, think about them now. What are your top 3 - 5 core values?