Observations, Thoughts, Lessons

"I meet thousands of people over the course of a year with whom I engage through work, travel, or social. Each and every one of them has the potential to inspire, teach, and transform others through their words, experiences, and wisdom. These quotes are a collection of my 'take' on those interactions."

Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s not true.

You pick up a book on physics and you don't understand the concepts, do you blame the writer for poor writing. Of course not. You can attribute your inability to understand the material to how challenging it may seem to you. Have you found yourself blaming the "messenger" when you are presented with a new concept or idea to you? An early publishing editor of Paid to THINK emphatically claimed that the Goldsmith Productivity Principle (GPP) was wrong because she lacked the background to quickly grasp its meaning; but was it actually wrong, or did she simply need to take a little extra time to understand a new idea?  If you find yourself feeling agitated or dismissive when you come across the unfamiliar, pause and ask yourself if perhaps you need time to digest the new ideas - which may take hours, days, months or even years to process. Though this lesson may seem obvious, we're all subject to making this mistake. The remedy: observe yourself more objectively by being more open minded when new information comes your way.

Life typically doesn’t reward you for effort; it rewards you for results.

One day while traveling, Lorrie made this comment over the phone. I just loved it, because how often do we feel the pang of disappointment when we work really hard toward a desired outcome and the results just don't pan out as we had expected. While effort is respected, effort alone won't necessarily produce intended outcomes. Life's just not fair that way, sometimes.

Win by a nose, lose by a nose.

The horse racing track isn't the only  where wins and losses occur "by a nose", which is the case when one horse inches his nose over the finish line just milliseconds before another.  Think of a time when another driver reached a prime parking place just seconds before you did, or when you submitted an online bid mere seconds before another bidder and won the prize.

In the workplace, wins and losses often come down to small advantages that inch us toward our goals, meaning that even the smallest improvements to our skills can pay off big. Think for instance what you may actually need to win a sale. Have you always outpaced a competitor by far, or have you sometimes just eked out your win?  In sales, when you lose by a nose, typically you lose everything: the sale itself and all the time, energy, and expense invested in trying to obtain the sale.
Therefore, you don't have to be ten times better than your competition to win, you just have to be better


Location, location, location has been replaced by access, access, access.
While doing research for a presentation at the Terry Lundgren World Retail Conference, I realized that the traditional concept of "location, location, location", specifically as it has pertained to the value of real estate, also applies to  establishing a business venture, but with an updated twist. Now that we live and work in a digital world, value is derived from our ability to gain and grant "access, access, access".

People fall in love with their own ideas.
Beware of the natural tendency to fall in love with your own ideas. It clouds your judgement and prevents you from accurately considering risk or pitfalls when you embark on new endeavors. In as much people try to be objective, I've often found that those who create ideas tend to support them often to a fault. A safeguard: acquire strong thinking and leadership "tools" that channel your ideas and aspirations into reliable processes that 1) move you in the direction of your desired outcomes, and 2) vet and filter for flaws or hurdles that emotions allow us to overlook. For example, a tool like Paid to THINK's ET  New Product and Service Development Funnel serves as a mechanism that produces results and prevents you from falling in love with the bad-boy idea that will leave you high and dry one day.

All things are never equal.

How often have we heard someone lead off with, "All things being equal..." and proceed to make their point? My opinion is that "All things are never equal." No two companies are the same. No two operations work the same way: two organizations' products may be strikingly similar, but one's methods of delivery may be superior; two potential management hirees may be equally impressive on paper, but in reality, one may elicit greater degrees of loyalty and productivity from their staffers. So before you start to look at situations, opportunities, and challenges in terms of "all things being equal", focus instead on assessing which "things" -debt, cash flow, numbers of warehouses, lines of credit, response times, media exposure,etc. -are actually your best options.

I’m not competitive as long as I win.

While we can always applaud collaborative efforts in the workplace and society, tapping our competitive spirit as a means of pushing ourselves to greater degrees can hold value, too. I first came up with this quote back in 1975 as a fun way of expressing how I tap the competitive aspects of my personality to excel in most areas of my life. Since then I've used it hundreds of times as a subtle way of defining how I like to play in life, especially competing with myself to perpetually improve my skills and outcomes.

Everyone wears some “scars” from living; winners persist in spite of them.

No one is excused from facing challenges in life. Therefore, it's up to each of us to gain lessons from our tribulations and see the "light" from our experiences, both good and bad. Originally, this quote was, "The person who goes through life with the least amount of scars wins," but in reality, the wins come from how we choose to move forward despite the number or severity of our "scars".

Don’t think outside the box; rather, gather into your mental zone what you know and synthesize it to create new knowledge.

No one can give 110%.

It’s not about working hard. It’s about working smart to work less.

Mental multi-tasking actually doesn’t exist.

Think before you leap, because the cost of poorly directed busyness can be disastrous.

“Why” doesn’t matter.

Given the choice, people rather make money than to save money.

Consider the ad agency model: charge for ideas and give away product.

When searching for your organization’s gaps, think about how you would advise your competitors to put you out of business.

Relationships are not the most important factor in making the sale.

When your customers brag to others that your organization is great, then your organization is truly great.

Offloading clutter is a sign of having your act together.

Language knows no borders.

Keep a success journal, because we tend to remember our failures and to forget our successes.

You have to look through all the windows.

You’re not going to build and exciting life by watching television; you’ll only experience temporary entertainment.

Assortment, price, and perceived quality are the final variables to consumer and corporate purchases.

Don’t try to raise the water in your glass by trying to raise the ocean.

Great leadership groups are built when you choose your own captains.

Would you rather be pushed by a magnet or pulled by one?

A good strategy executed poorly will create better results than a poor strategy executed well.

Coaches create play books; athletes execute on their plays.

In leadership, someone will always hate your decisions.

The language you use can control almost any situation.

People love change.

People respond more favorably to options.

There’s a difference between being automated and being manually digital, and of the two, automation typically places you in the superior position.

Leaders are always selling.

Executives prefer to hear opportunities rather than to hear about pain.

Your next best move may not be your next best perceived move.

If I called your customers today and asked them if they considered you to be their partner, would they say “yes”?

Projects are the building blocks of organizations.

Your customer is you.

To make great decisions, leaders have to know when and how to push others’ voices out of their minds.

Want to understand how difficult it may be for your stakeholders to learn a new skill? Learn to play the violin.

Marketing is when the sales come to you; selling is when you go get the sales.

Take a fork, give a spoon, meaning when you remove a tool or belief, replace it with a superior option.

Never leave a relationship where you owe something to someone else.

Strategy is where you are going; tactics are how you get there.

Good leaders don’t fight fires; they prevent them from igniting in the first place.

The next frontier of automation—following farms, factories, back offices, front offices—will be the human mind.

You can’t hug and kiss your employees into being motivated.

A truly motivational presenter is someone who inspires behavioral transformation through tools and knowledge, not through rah-rah hype.

The greatest motivator is teaching someone how to achieve their desired outcomes.

Management is a mental game; you must first win over minds before you achieve intended results.

To ensure that customer interactions don’t go awry, play out scenarios replacing “Let me talk to a manager” with “Take me to your leader”.

In every great manager there’s a leader and within every great leader there’s a manager; the functions of the two roles are intertwined.

People follow leaders who take them where they want to go.

When one’s pipeline for new business is shallow, desperation causes them to “beg” for business.

Be mindful of the tendency to make stupid decisions when sales are scarce.

Perpetual sales do not come about by hunting and then looking around as if you’ve done your job. You must always be looking at the next target.

Develop talent quickly by encouraging your people to “steal” ideas and knowledge from each other.

If you wouldn’t be willing to bet your annual salary on your next initiative’s likelihood of success, then you shouldn’t expect your stakeholder’s to bet on you.

The sign of an organization doing everything right is a customer service department that’s free to improve the customer experience, not fend off complaints.

When you make decisions about another person in anger, odds are you’ll only hurt yourself in the end.

You can’t say something stupid if you don’t open your mouth.

It’s not who you know; it’s who knows you.

Before you say something, ask yourself if what you’re saying actually adds value to the conversation.

Building relationships with others comes easiest if you’re more willing to listen to them than to impress them.

Are you in business to fix problems or to make money?

An expert sees the invisible while the leader makes the invisible visible.

A great leader or manager is always adapting new strategies and tactics to reach a desired objective, knowing that the landscape is constantly changing.

Think “challenges” rather than “problems”.

Goldsmith Productivity Principle: 80% of an organization’s performance is driven by the systems and structure put in place by leadership; only 20% is driven by the people themselves. Even the best talent can’t perform optimally without the 80%.

The best way for leaders to “manage time” is to plan their priorities and schedule the night before a work day to hit the office prepared. Besides, you’ll sleep better.

Great leaders and managers work mentally in the future, not in the present.

Management’s job is to solve challenges permanently.

Look both ways before you make a decision.

You would be surprised how much impact one individual has within an organization; a top executive can change the whole in a heartbeat.

The best option may not be your best option.

Create the right model first.

Always deliver overwhelming value.

Everything within an organization must support its higher value.

Volunteers work for a non-monetary fee; to motivate others, leadership must understand what that “fee” is.

The next time you analogize business to team sports, realize that more than 70% of people have not participated in sports since elementary school…and most were not great team players!

Once strategy has been determined, management’s role is to select projects and guide their execution to completion.

If an organization completes no new projects and retains status quo day after day, the organization degrades and eventually peters out.

Management can build or destroy faster than any employee.

If you change the pace, you must upgrade the tools.

Pet the dog, wave to the crowd.

Life situations, unlike math, have more than one right answer.

Assess the big picture before attending to details.

Don’t fix a blame.

There is an “I” in team; I will be responsible, I will contribute, etc.

You’re paid to think.

The “cream” doesn’t always rise to the top; sometimes it simply leaves the organization.

Sub-value is a misdirected effort, whereas higher value is the reason people take action.

Farmers measure what they harvest, not what they plant.

People will think on information and act on emotion.

Work as hard as if you were 24, with the fearlessness of someone who can’t feel pain, and with the wisdom of a sage.

Stop and enjoy someone else’s experiences.

I’d rather be given an average team with a great strategy than a great team with a poor strategy.

People don’t show up to work to screw up; when they err, it’s because they don’t know better.

Be careful what you say, because there may be others who take your advice to heart.

Products can be commodities, but the companies that sell them don’t have to be as such unless leadership believes they are.

An un-competitive industry is a dead industry.

When you’re engaged with someone who needs to save face, give them a “way out” and then move on.

Not everyone has $1M to donate to others, but everyone can make one act of kindness that has the power to touch millions of people in a positive way.

It is a waste of time to address a perceived challenge.

Confirm facts and challenge assumptions before you diagnose a wrong.

Manpower, time, and capital are solutions, not problems.

Opposites often work better together.

Service and quality are ambiguous offerings; be specific to stand out in the crowd.

Less is more.

Always use the simplest form.

There’s always a better way.

Too often, organizations lose more business out their back door than their front door; support your front-line sales personnel by building a strong organization.

To lead others, replace “telling” with “transferring”—transferring tools, information, knowledge, methodologies, etc.

In today’s world, leaders must think “globally”, even if they’re only delivering locally.

Regret is counterproductive; instead, always remember that you made the best decision you could at the time in which you made it.

If leadership thinks in silos, their people will work in silos; silos cheat organizations out of opportunities bred from cross-functional interaction.

What you wear may open the door, but the contributions driven by how you think determine whether the door remains open.

Stakeholders are more likely to fall out of love with organizations that don’t continually improve.

Leaders who perpetually learn and hone their skills make more good decisions than bad.

While hard work is a virtue, make sure that you don’t keep your nose down so long that you miss the wonders around you.

Seize opportunities when you can, for you never know when or if you’ll have those opportunities again.

Transparency and connectivity are sledge hammers to organizational silos.

Once a technology exists, someone will use it.

Sometimes you have to lose to win.

When you reach an impasse, momentarily turn away from your own reality and address others’ realities to clear the path of progress.

Some details are not worth worrying about.

You may soar with eagles yet you know you are not one of them.

If you say you want something and then don’t do anything to achieve it, then you don’t really want it.

A general does not need to know how to drive a tank to use it in battle.


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