Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mackay: Never forget to express your thanks

A university professor began reflecting on the people who had a positive impact on his life. In particular, he remembered a schoolteacher who had gone out of her way to instill in him a love of poetry. He hadn't seen or spoken to her in many years, but he found her address and sent her a letter of thanks. A short time later, he received this reply:

"'My dear Willie, I cannot tell you how much your note meant to me. I am in my 80s, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely and, like the last leaf of autumn, lingering behind. You will be interested to know that I taught school for 50 years, and yours is the first note of appreciation I ever received. It came on a blue-cold morning, and it cheered me as nothing has in many years."

The teacher's note brought the professor to tears - and then he began searching for others who'd shaped his life, just to say thanks.

If only more people held onto gratitude the way they hold a grudge!

None of us got to where we are alone. Whether the assistance we received was obvious or subtle, acknowledging someone's help is a big part of understanding the importance of saying thank you.

It's more than just good manners. Saying thank you - and meaning it - is never a bad idea. It appeals to a basic human need to be appreciated. It sets the stage for the next pleasant encounter. And it keeps in perspective the importance of receiving and giving help.

Walmart founder Sam Walton wrote 10 rules for success, and Walton didn't mince words when it came to being thankful. The fifth of Walton's rules is, "Appreciate everything your associates do for the business."

I wish I could convince every business owner and manager to adopt that attitude. If you have hired well and provided the necessary tools that allow your staff to perform their jobs, and they have achieved accordingly, the next logical step is to acknowledge their efforts.

The cost of praising someone is nil, but a recent study has found that the payoff can be huge. Employees want to be seen as competent, hardworking members of the team. Good managers want satisfied, motivated and productive staff members. What better motivator than thanking employees for their contributions to the company's success?

A Personnel Today survey of 350 human-resources professionals found that the greatest factor in workplace productivity is a positive environment in which employees feel appreciated. According to the survey, two-thirds of the respondents said they felt a lot more productive when they received recognition for their work, while the remainder said they felt a little more productive.

Just feeling productive can be motivating in itself. When workers don't feel productive, frustration sets in, according to 84 percent of the survey respondents. Here's a startling result: 20 percent said they felt angry or depressed when they weren't able to work as hard as they could.

How to praise effectively? Try these ideas:

- Be sincere. Give praise only where it is due. If the employee feels the praise isn't genuine, it could have a negative effect.

- Give public praise. The goal is to encourage employees to keep up the good work, while simultaneously encouraging others to put out greater effort. Praising in public raises general morale.

- Be specific in your praise. Identify exactly what the employee worked on and what he or she accomplished. Don't just say, "Well done, Maggie."

- Provide some lasting recognition. Consider a letter in the employee's file or a simple celebration for the department that overcame a tough challenge. Appreciation is not a one-shot event. It needs to be ongoing.

A smart manager will establish a culture of gratitude. Expand the appreciative attitude to suppliers, vendors, delivery people and, of course, customers.

All links along the chain are essential to your success. It's so easy to ignore the person who delivers office supplies, the tech who unfroze your computer or the customer who referred you to a great new account. Big mistake. They all deserve acknowledgement, especially if you want to preserve the relationship.

And while you're at it, don't forget your favorite teacher.

Mackay's Moral: An attitude of gratitude should have wide latitude.

by Harvey Mackay Aug 28, 2011

Mackay: Never forget to express your thanks

Mackay: Only losers succumb to short fuses

Lately, it seems like every night when I watch ESPN to get the day's baseball scores and highlights, I see another pitcher throwing a temper tantrum in the dugout after a poor performance.

San Francisco Giants star relief pitcher Brian Wilson had one of the more visible meltdowns when he was pulled from a game in the ninth inning. He proceeded to storm into the dugout, where he picked up the water cooler and heaved it against the bench. He grabbed a bat and pummeled the water cooler and then punched a cardboard box.

What was more alarming was what Wilson said afterward: "Give yourself 30 seconds to completely lose it, then come back and be part of the team."

Did I hear that correctly?

Does that mean it's OK for your teenager to come home and trash the house after a rough day at school - just for 30 seconds? Or should the employee who blows up at work be forgiven for knocking over the water cooler? That takes only five seconds. How about people who go crazy verbally and cuss a blue streak? A lot of very nasty and damaging words can be uttered in half a minute!

Is this out-of-control behavior acceptable?

Absolutely, definitely, positively, most certainly NOT! When you blow your stack, you add to the world's pollution. These hotheads don't understand that every time you lose your temper, you advertise yourself - and you're not selling a positive. Nothing cooks your goose more than a boiling temper.

I spend a lot of time on the golf course, and I've seen more than my share of temper tantrums on the links. As an avid golfer, I understand frustration, and a temper is the first thing a golfer has to control. A little white ball shouldn't tee you off to the point of ugliness.

Since golf is half mental, those who take grim delight in being temperamental usually are more "temper" than "mental." I always say, if you lose your head, what is the use of the rest of your body? Maybe this is why baseball Hall of Famer and Cubs great Ernie Banks said, "Baseball reveals character; golf exposes it."

But back to work. Keeping your temper in check is not just essential, it's the mark of a professional. Where two or more people work together, disagreements are an ever-present part of the landscape. There are plenty of ways to be unhappy about a situation without being unpleasant.

Consider these ideas:

- Figure out what you're really angry about. Are you upset at the current situation, or is your discontent a carry-over from previous events?

- Count to 10 - or 20 or 30, if necessary. Just as you can't unring a bell, taking back angry and hurtful words is next to impossible.

- Excuse yourself for a few minutes if possible. Walking away from a volatile situation gives you a chance to collect yourself and measure your reaction.

- Take care of your health. Studies show that people who eat properly, exercise and sleep enough are better-equipped to handle stressful situations.

- Share your concerns calmly. It takes two to tango, but things slow down if one of them does a waltz instead.

- Give the other side a break, even if you think they're wrong. You may discover there are unrelated factors at work that are guiding the discussion. Diffusing the tension can lead to a better resolution.

- Choose your battles according to how important the outcome would be. Never fight a battle just so you can say you won. You won't be perceived as a winner; you'll be labeled a bully.

- Accept that some things are beyond your control. As competitive as I am, I have come to realize that I can't have my way in everything.

Mackay's Moral: When a person's temper gets the best of him, it brings out the worst in him.

by Harvey Mackay Aug 21, 2011

Mackay: Only losers succumb to short fuses

Compressed 02 on Vimeo

Compressed 02 on Vimeo

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mackay: It's what you do for a life that matters

It all started with an innocent question at a conference where I was speaking. After I was introduced to one of the organizers, I asked her, "And what do you do for a living?"

"Wrong question, Harvey!" she replied. "It's what I do for a life that matters!"

Her 10-second answer was enlightening: She loved and cared for her family and friends, worked as a systems analyst for a small startup, took harp lessons, volunteered at the history center and took her faith very seriously. This was a woman who had her priorities in order. She valued every minute of every day. She was determined to live the best life she could.

I realized a long time ago that you have to grab hold of life.

You can't sit there and let it pass you by. You have to make things happen, not just wait for things to happen to you. But we all know that's easier said than done.

Philosophers through the ages have tried to define the meaning of life, and I'm not about to try to pick up where they left off. But I've heard some creative comparisons, simplistic to be sure, but clever nonetheless:

- Life is like a canvas. You fill in the picture.

- Life is like a mirror. We get the best results when we smile at it.

- Life is like a bank. You get out what you put into it with interest.

- Life is like a cafeteria. You must help yourself.

- Life is like a garden. Plant good seeds and tend them, and the bounty is plentiful.

- Life is like a chocolate-chip cookie. It's best enjoyed hot and fresh.

Let's face it: It is a lot easier to create analogies about life than it is to explain it.

Maybe we should adopt one of Benjamin Franklin's habits. Every day of his adult life, he set aside time to examine two questions. In the morning, he asked himself, "What good shall I do today?" Later in the day, his question changed to, "What good have I done today?" This process is sure to produce more than philosophy.

Or we can practice the thinking of Charlie Brown of "Peanuts" fame, who said, "I've developed a new philosophy. I only dread life one day at a time."

I love Charlie Brown, but I feel sorry for the kid. With such a glum outlook, he's missing all the good stuff.

What makes for a good life? Most people would say people who love you and whom you love, work that you find rewarding and productive, comfortable surroundings, adequate food, good health and, for many, faith.

Because you are often defined by the work you do and you depend on that work to provide many of the things you need, I think it's absolutely essential that you find a job or volunteer opportunity that aligns with your values and ethics. And always remember, you have to give before you get. Put your heart into it.

My friend the late Norman Vincent Peale agreed with my thoughts: "By the good life, I mean one that is intensely interesting, even exciting. It is a life that is full of meaning and rich in satisfaction. ... The good life is based on a definitive value system in which job and enthusiasm serve as both cause and effect."

Today, I'm offering a Mackay's Moral bonanza - some gems that you can learn from and carry with you when life seems to be handing you proverbial lemons:

- Life is 10 percent how you make it and 90 percent how you take it.

- Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most people don't use enough of their gears.

- One of the greatest truths in life is that "no" is a complete sentence.

- The stumbling blocks in life are nothing more than stepping stones.

- The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.

- Every day is a gift. That's why it's called the present.

Mackay's Moral: It's never too late to become what you could have been.

by Harvey Mackay Aug 14, 2011

Mackay: It's what you do for a life that matters

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Harvey Mackay: Books are important to the shaping of lives | Tulsa World

Our lives basically are changed in two ways - by the people we meet and the books we read.

My friend the late Charles "Tremendous" Jones shared this notion with me several years ago, and as an author, I took it as a compliment and a challenge. In fact, I thought it was so powerful that I use it in all my speeches.

I have firsthand experience on the importance of books in our lives. My first book, "Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," sold a lot of copies. But the best part was the feedback from readers: Thousands told me the book had changed their lives. Again, I am honored and daunted. That was an enormous responsibility to assume.

Let me share the biggest secret of a really life-changing book: If you have found a book that taught you a tremendous amount, you need to go back and read that book three, five, seven and 10 years later, after you've had different experiences. It is not enough to simply read a motivational self-help book. You have to study it, underline it, highlight it and take notes. Good books should never be put away permanently.

Whether you are a paper-and-ink fan or a Kindle/Nook devotee, books are your ticket to places you can only dream of. A good read can stretch your imagination and spark your creativity. Books inspire, comfort, teach and entertain. Inscribed on the Thomas Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress are the first eight words of a quotation by famed American author Henry David Thoreau, "Books are the treasured wealth of the world ..."

Reading researcher Kylene Beers says something happens to U.S. kids as they make their way through school. "About 100 percent of first-graders walk in on the first day and are interested in this thing called reading," she says. "Eighty percent of graduating high school seniors tell us they will never again voluntarily read another book."

J.K. Rowling is credited with reviving interest in reading with the fabulously popular "Harry Potter" series, and the "Twilight" books hooked legions of fans. There is no lack of good reading material. And yet statistics tell us that the average person reads just three books a year.

Three books! Not only am I an advocate of reading everything I can get my hands on, but also I am a huge proponent of lifelong learning. When your career or family schedules preclude enrolling in a class, books provide another avenue. Read to expand your mind. Read for fun. Read because you are interested in something - and read to become more interesting. You'll never waste your time if you are reading!

American writer Clarence Day said: "The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall; nations perish; civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."

by Harvey Mackay Aug 7, 2011

Harvey Mackay: Books are important to the shaping of lives | Tulsa World

Boss should use powers wisely

Question: My boss continuously manages his subordinates through carrots and sticks. He routinely threatens employees' jobs and also dangles perks to motivate. Otherwise, he is incompetent in providing the needed resources, guidance or expertise in leading us to success. What do you have to say?

- Sabina R., Phoenix

Answer: There are essentially six main powers vested in a boss. An appropriate mix of these powers and using the correct power for a given situation is a managerial skill learned and perfected through experience. Your boss needs training in using these powers more effectively.

Here are the powers:

Legitimate Power: This is the power granted to bosses by their position. They can approve resources, expenses and projects, and assign priorities. Proper use of this power requires knowledge of the business, the technological capabilities, the competitive environment and the staff's capabilities. Incompetent managers will misappropriate this power and decide by their bias, closeness to employees, etc.

Connection Power: Managers often have more connections to the important people in the company or the industry. They can help their employees by making appropriate use of this power. The bosses who continuously drop a lot of high-level names are misusing this power by trying to influence others.

Expert Power: This is the power enjoyed by a boss who is an expert in a given field. Managers in technology fields often enjoy this power. Subordinates want to work for these people because of their expertise.

Referent Power: This a power enjoyed by a boss who is likeable. People want to work for this boss because he or she is nice to work for. Likeability is often a good power, but any power taken to an extreme can be bad. If the boss is becoming likeable because he or she does not deal with poor performers and lets everyone slide while the projects are failing, he or she may be a nice boss but a poor performer.

Power of Reward: A boss has the power to reward the employees with bonuses, raises, promotions, perks or praise. Excessive use of this power is considered negative and seems to be the case with your boss.

Power of Punishment: A boss has the power to punish, demote, withhold merit raises from or fire an employee. Judicious use of such power with non-performers is a necessity, but managing by using such threats, as in your boss's case, is a misuse of the power.

The best managers use a combination of all six powers in moderation. Excessive use of any one power is not good. And removing any of the powers from a manager's toolbox would compromise his or her management ability. I have been learning and practicing the appropriate use of these powers all through my business career.

Your boss can learn and can get better. But motivating or requiring him to get help is a difficult task. Discreetly slip this column under his door.

One more caution - don't try these powers at home with your spouse or kids. It does not work.

by Steve Sanghi - Aug. 7, 2011 12:00 AM

Boss should use powers wisely

Mattel weighs options after $309M Bratz judgment | Detroit Free Press | freep.com

Art of the 2010 collection of Bratz dolls. A federal judge ordered Mattel Inc. to pay rival MGA Entertainment Inc. more than $309 million on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, a sum that dwarfs the $88 million awarded earlier this year by a jury.
Art of the 2010 collection of Bratz dolls. A federal judge ordered Mattel Inc. to pay rival MGA Entertainment Inc. more than $309 million on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011, a sum that dwarfs the $88 million awarded earlier this year by a jury. / MGA Entertainment/AP

SANTA ANA, Calif. — The first salvo was fired years ago when toy giant Mattel Inc. sued MGA Entertainment Inc. over ownership of the hugely popular Bratz fashion doll line. The turbulent legal chapter has now ended with a federal judge ordering Mattel to pay its rival more than $309 million.

Mattel said it was disappointed with the decision Thursday and was evaluating its next steps. The El Segundo-based toy maker can appeal.

U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter reduced a previous jury award from more than $88 million to $85 million but then awarded Los Angeles-based MGA an additional $85 million in punitive damages for trade secrets misappropriation. He also awarded MGA, the company's Hong Kong affiliate and its Chief Executive Officer Isaac Larian $137 million in legal fees related to copyright and trade secrets issues.

The total, which also included more than $2 million in legal fees on trade secrets claims, was more than $309.8 million, according to court papers and MGA lead counsel Jennifer Keller.

Mattel first filed a lawsuit in 2004 alleging that Bratz designer Carter Bryant was employed at Mattel when he created the Bratz dolls. The dolls with pouty lips, hip hop-style clothing and oversized feet were aimed at "tweens," or girls ages 9 to 11, and flew off the shelves when they debuted in 2001.

In 2008, a federal jury in Riverside sided with Mattel and awarded it $100 million — but the verdict was overturned on appeal and the case sent back for retrial.

After a second trial, this time in Santa Ana, a jury in April rejected Mattel's claims and instead awarded MGA damages in a counter-claim. The smaller toy maker had alleged that Mattel used hired gumshoes to spy on its toy designs and marketing plans at trade shows and stole its trade secrets.

Mattel filed motions asking for a new trial and challenging whether the 26 trade secrets MGA alleged it stole actually qualified as trade secrets under the law.

The judge, however, denied the motion for a new trial and rejected Mattel's arguments on the trade secrets.

"Mattel's Chief Executive Officer, general counsel, two in-house counsel, three former high-ranking executives and a current employee all admitted under oath that employees misrepresented themselves to access competitors' private showrooms and gather information about unreleased products," the judge wrote. "Every one of these individuals acknowledge that the conduct was sanctioned by senior members of Mattel's corporate hierarchy and that it was improper."

Carter lowered the original $88.5 million in damages to $85 million after finding the jury made a mathematical error and awarded damages on one claim twice. But the judge then awarded an additional $85 million in punitive damages.

"We are disappointed with the recent rulings on the post-trial motions. Mattel strongly believes that the outcome at the trial level is not supported by the evidence or the law," Mattel said in a statement. "Additionally, we remain committed to finding a reasonable resolution to the litigation, and are focused on our primary goal — to make and sell great toys."

Keller, the MGA attorney, said the ruling was a huge win for the smaller company.

"I think Judge Carter was very, very careful in everything he did to really give Mattel the benefit of the doubt," she said in a telephone interview. "His rulings were really right down the middle."

The case has been tremendously costly for both sides.

Larian has said he has spent as much as $170 million on legal fees, while analysts estimated Mattel's legal fees at $400 million shortly after the April verdict.

In the particularly heated trial, MGA attorneys accused Mattel of trying to crush Bratz because the sassy doll line was giving the venerable Barbie doll a run for her money, while Mattel accused MGA of stealing its idea for Bratz and then working to cover up any hint the concept wasn't theirs.

At one point, Mattel alleged in court papers that the trial was tainted because Larian testified that Mattel caused the stress that led to his father's death and destroyed his family, among other things.

Jurors ultimately rejected Mattel's claims of copyright infringement and instead found that Mattel stole 26 of the 114 trade secrets MGA listed, resulting in the more than $88 million in damages awarded to MGA

by Gillian Flaccus Associated Press Aug 5, 2011

Mattel weighs options after $309M Bratz judgment | Detroit Free Press | freep.com

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How technology has changed negotiations

I recently attended a seminar in which a technology expert suggested "the mobile platform [of smartphones and tablets] will rule" much of our future activities, and he may be right.

But one thing I know for certain: This technology revolution has already significantly changed how we should prepare for, engage and improve our negotiations.


Access to strategic intelligence on our counterparts

One of the first things I do when I learn the identity of my negotiation counterpart is find out as much as I can about their backgrounds, reputations and specific tactics they have used in the past (like who has consistently bluffed, walked out but then kept coming back, caved at the end, played good cop/bad cop, etc.).

This used to be exceedingly difficult to discover.

You had to make a lot of calls and hope you connected with several individuals who had previously negotiated with that person or company.

It's exponentially easier to access this information today with Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, corporate websites, industry association list serves, and the list goes on.

And this is just the information obtainable to anyone with an Internet connection.

Today, you can also efficiently reach out to your personal and professional networks via e-mail and postings in search of specific style and strategy data on your counterparts.

Organizations can also now capture this intelligence in easily accessible and searchable internal databases that can be used by any colleague who may be negotiating with that counterpart in the future.

This used to be tough and expensive. Now it's simple and cheap - and extraordinarily valuable.

Industry standards

When I was in law school 20 years ago and preparing for job interviews, I spent a lot of time in my law school's career-services department and library researching salaries, benefits, markets, positive and negative elements of places to live and work, legal and industry trends and other things that factored into my negotiation with potential employers and my ultimate decision. This took a lot of time. Today, this information is usually just a few clicks away.

Many negotiations revolve around similar information and standards like market value, precedent, tradition, efficiency, costs and profits, and professional industry standards.

How often have we justified a price based on its market value or because last year we did that deal at X (precedent)? It's relatively easy to get this information today. It wasn't 20 years ago.

Learning resources

I am amazed at the quality and volume of free online negotiation advice available today to those interested in improving their negotiation skills.

Free resources where you can engage and seek negotiation advice include my ExpertNegotiator LinkedIn Forum with more than 500 members and 30 negotiation professors, Harvard's Program on Negotiation LinkedIn Forum, many YouTube clips, negotiation experts Tweeting away and, of course, a large number of websites and news articles.

by Marty Latz Latz Negotiation Institute Aug 5, 2011

How technology has changed negotiations

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mackay: Accessibility key to great salesperson

I've asked a lot of people what makes a great salesperson. The answers are fairly predictable: passion, persistence, likability, planning, trustworthiness, strong work ethic, initiative, intelligence, good communication skills, sense of humor, humility, good timing, strong relationship building and follow-up (or, as I say, the sale begins when the customer says yes).

My own answer is always the same: hungry fighter. In many ways, that embodies all of the above traits.

Further, I would argue that the second-most-important factor is accessibility. I seldom do business with people who are not accessible.

If I can't reach you immediately, I want to know you'll get back to me within minutes or hours, not days. If you're slow to answer the call, your phone will stop ringing.

Notice I say "accessible" instead of "available" because accessibility includes availability, plus user-friendliness, convenience and more. When you have questions, you want to talk to someone who has answers. If your salesperson doesn't, he or she must be able to find someone who does.

Salespeople, as well as those in customer service, need to understand the importance of accessibility. Woody Allen said, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." That may be true in some businesses, but it falls far short in sales and service. Would you be satisfied if a salesperson were available for only four out of five customers?

Personal story: I fly tens of thousands of uneventful miles every year, but I recently had a frustrating experience with a major airline that sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. Bad weather at the origin of my connecting flight caused my flight to be delayed five times before it was canceled. Instead of putting me on the next available flight, the airline assigned me on the same flight - 24 hours later! But no official announcements came. A fellow traveler got an e-mail on his iPhone and shared the news.

We were told an agent would be at the gate to help us, but after 30 minutes, no one had shown up. The phone lines at the rebooking center were jammed. The computer screens were down. I tried the toll-free number and was told I'd be on hold for 30 minutes. After just a few minutes, the hold message turned into a busy signal. I couldn't reach a human being.

In desperation, I called my travel agent, who found a flight on another carrier leaving within an hour. He also found several other available flights that evening that could have accommodated most of the delayed travelers, but the airline didn't offer any of those options. Note to self: Never fly that airline again. Ever.

We want to be able to count on people in an emergency. That airline doesn't realize that the more accessible you are, the more accessible your entire organization becomes.

I think what frustrates people the most is when they can't reach anyone. As necessary and popular as they are, I have never been a fan of voice-mail or automated systems. That's why we still have a receptionist - a live person - answering calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at MackayMitchell Envelope Co. Our salespeople share after-hours emergency contact information as well. We will never get rid of the personal touch.

Can you be accessible 24/7? Technically, yes. But should you be accessible all the time? Of course not.

But you do have to get back to people promptly, even if just to tell them that you got their message and are working on their request. If you want to depend on your customers' business, you must remember that your customers depend on you.

Perhaps you've seen a variation of the parable of the ignored customer. Its message should resonate with every business that needs customers.

"I'm the person who goes into a restaurant, sits down patiently and waits while the servers do everything but take my order. I'm the person who goes into a store and stands quietly while the salespeople finish their little chitchat. I'm the person who goes into a reception room on time for a business appointment and stands by the desk while the receptionist finishes her personal phone call.

"You might say I'm a patient person. But do you know who else I am? I'm the person who never comes back!"

Mackay's Moral: You can't reach the top if your customers can't reach you.

by Harvey Mackay Aug 1, 2011

Mackay: Accessibility key to great salesperson

Rick Rico Genest Zombie Boy

Rick Rico Genest Zombie Boy

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

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