Thursday, November 29, 2012

These lessons will boost success

Education is a stepping stone to success, but some of the most important lessons aren't taught in class. There are plenty of life lessons that we need to know, and the textbooks often do not have chapters on them. Here are some lessons you should learn in order to grow both in your career and in your personal life.

You can't do everything yourself. Control freaks make the job harder and foster resentment among the troops. Learn your limits so you can concentrate on what you do best, and delegate the rest to people (or tools) capable of doing as good a job, or better.

You need to understand finance. No matter what field you're in, a basic understanding of how money flows in and out of your organization will help you stand out from your peers and enable you to make better professional and personal decisions.

You don't always get a second chance. Failure isn't necessarily fatal, but that doesn't mean you'll get unlimited opportunities to try, try again. Learn to distinguish between foolhardy gambles and reasonable risks. Do your best -- but be ready to move on if things don't work out. Failure is not falling down, but staying down.

Your attitude is paramount. Stay upbeat no matter what happens. Employers and co-workers respond to your positive energy and outlook. You'll be more motivated and productive if you approach your work with optimism and a can-do spirit. Your attitude and your aptitude will determine your altitude.

Take your work seriously but don't take yourself too seriously. Starting your day with a good laugh is as beneficial to your health as it is to your mood. There is no place that needs humor more than the workplace. Human resources directors will tell you that employees with a sense of humor are more creative -- and much more fun to be around.

Everyone smiles in the same language. I learned years ago that one of the most powerful things you can do to have influence over others is to smile at them. A smile comes as standard equipment for everyone!

Your boss doesn't have all the answers. Listen to your managers, but remember that they're human, too. They don't always have the best answers, so be prepared to offer solutions. Your job is to help them get things done, not dump problems in their laps. Offer solutions and support wherever and whenever you can.

You never really know it all. Arrogance is one of the deadliest of all human failings and can destroy a business. It is the easiest to rationalize and the hardest to recognize in ourselves. Don't confuse arrogance with confidence, which allows you to perform up to the level of your capabilities. As I like to say about arrogance, I know that you don't know, but you don't know that you don't know.

You have to market yourself. You're responsible for your own success. Most of your managers and colleagues are too busy with their own issues to look out for your career. Look for opportunities to shine. Let people know what you're capable of. And be ready to prove yourself.

Beat rejection before it beats you. Rejection is -- and always will be -- part of business. For example, if it were easy to succeed in sales, everyone would want in. Rejection helps knock out the weak. You can't take it personally. People don't realize that in order to get the yeses, you must hear the nos.

Honesty is the best policy. If truth stands in your way, you're headed in the wrong direction. As the father of three children, one of my rules -- especially when they became teenagers -- was to tell me the truth immediately. That philosophy seemed to work for me, and quite frankly, I've always believed that telling the truth is the best policy. In business, it's the only policy.

You don't always get a trophy. Don't let ups and downs leave you down and out. Handling disappointment is one of life's challenges, and often an indication of how you deal with adversity at work as well. Achievers focus on the road, rather than the bumps in it, to reach their destination. Rough spots sharpen our performance. And more often than not, the obstacles can be turned into advantages. You just can't let your disappointment get in the way.

Mackay's Moral: You learn something new every day -- if you are paying attention.

by Harvey Mackay Nov 25, 2012

These lessons will boost success

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mackay: Let employees know they matter

According to various surveys, seven of eight people go home every night with a feeling that they work for an organization that doesn't care about them. That equates to 130 million people in the United States who go home feeling somewhat used and abused and with a sense that they don't matter.

Enter Robert Chapman, CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, a leading provider of manufacturing technology, engineering and consulting solutions. He is a disciple of Truly Human Leadership, a leadership model that is all about people, purpose and performance. His vision is to send people home every night feeling fulfilled. Barry-Wehmiller has 7,000 team members through 58 acquisitions with $1.6 billion in sales.

Chapman is focused on allowing employees to discover, develop, share and be appreciated for their gifts. Employees are routinely solicited for their ideas.

In the company's leadership model, it attempts to shine a light in every corner of its business and look for the goodness in people.

To help, it has created several award programs. One award is the Guiding Principles of Leadership SSR Award. Chapman is a car enthusiast and had a Chevrolet SSR truck that he offered to one of his plants. The winner gets to drive it for a week. The program worked and expanded, so the company now has 17 SSR trucks.

"Everybody is nominating people," Chapman said. "In a plant of 450 people, we had 120 to 180 nominees. Think of this: People took the time to talk about the goodness in other people."

For every nominee, the company sends a letter to the employee's home, saying, "Your husband/daughter/son/brother/mother was nominated for their goodness. And let me tell you what people said about him or her."

Then, it's a secret when the winner is picked. The family is invited to the ceremony as a surprise.

Chapman said he's interviewed about 300 people who have won this award around the country. They tell him it's so significant because it's from their peers.

Award winners are often asked about their SSR truck by friends, and they describe the leadership award they won. And every time, people say, "I wish I worked for a company like that."

Chapman was visiting one of the company's recent plant acquisitions in Green Bay, Wis. He asked an employee what he thought about the new leadership model.

He said, "I'm now talking to my wife more."

Chapman said, "I don't understand."

The employee explained, "Do you know what it feels like to work in a place where you walk in in the morning and you punch a card to verify that you came in on time? You walk to your workstation, and people tell you what to do. They never ask you what you think. You do 10 things right, and you never hear a word. But you get one thing wrong, and you never hear the end of it. You go home and you don't feel very good about yourself. And when you don't feel very good about yourself, you're not really there for your family."

When the recession hit Barry-Wehmiller hard in 2008-09, Chapman had a tough decision to make. Orders dropped 35 percent. Employees were concerned about layoffs.

So the company and employee leaders came up with a plan where all employees would take off four weeks without pay. The company also suspended its 401(k) match.

"Employees didn't feel they did it to make the company more profitable," Chapman said. "They felt they did it to save somebody else's job. It was a gift. It was not a sacrifice."

True to form, when the company rebounded more quickly than anticipated, the company not only reinstated the 401(k) match but paid back the missed company match.

Just another way to reward employees.

Mackay's Moral: People are judged by the company they keep. Companies are judged by the people they keep.

by Harvey Mackay Nov 18, 2012

Mackay: Let employees know they matter

Archduke Joseph Diamond Sells For $21.5 Million, Setting Record

GENEVA — Christie's auctioned off the Archduke Joseph Diamond for nearly $21.5 million Tuesday night, a world auction record price per carat for a colorless diamond.

The Archduke Joseph Diamond was the first of two out-of-this world diamonds being auctioned off this week in Geneva. Sotheby's on Wednesday will auction what it calls an exceptionally rare fancy deep blue briolette diamond of 10.48 carats expected to get up to $4.5 million.

Christie's kicked off Geneva's jewelry auctions, held in five-star hotels along the Swiss city's elegant lakefront, that seem a continent if not a world away from the grim austerity gripping much of Europe.

The Archduke Joseph Diamond went for $21,474,525 including commission at Christie's auction. That was well above the expected $15 million and more than triple the price paid for it at auction almost two decades ago. The 76.02-carat diamond, with perfect color and internally flawless clarity, came from the ancient Golconda mines in India.

The seller, Alfredo J. Molina, chairman of California-based jeweler Black, Starr & Frost, said immediately afterward that there were two main bidders and that he was delighted with the result. Molina said the winning bidder, who wished to remain anonymous, is going to donate the diamond for display at a museum.

"It's a great price for a stone of this quality," Molina told The Associated Press. "It's one of a kind, so it's like saying `Are you pleased when you sell the Mona Lisa?' Or `Are you pleased when you sell the Hope Diamond?' It's all what the market will bear, and the stone sold for a very serious price."

Named for Archduke Joseph August of Austria, the great-grandson of both a Holy Roman emperor and a French king, the diamond passed to his son, Archduke Joseph Francis, who put it in a bank vault, then to an anonymous buyer who kept it in a safe during World War II. From there it surfaced at a London auction in 1961, then at a Geneva auction in 1993, when Christie's sold it for $6.5 million.

It wasn't the only mega-diamond to go under the hammer at Tuesday's auction in the hotel room packed with well-heeled bidders. Beneath a row of three enormous chandeliers that cast panther-like shadows on the ceiling, the participants eagerly pounced at the jewels while competing with bidders from around the world calling in to Christie's employees seated in rows on both sides of the room.

But perhaps the buyers weren't entirely immune to the harsh financial climate in Europe – or at least some Geneva version of it. Two plus-sized diamonds did not sell Tuesday night. A yellow diamond with 70.19 carats failed to sell because the final bid was 2.8 million Swiss francs, just slightly below the reserve price. A 12.16 carat pink diamond didn't sell because the final bid was 1.8 million francs, well under the reserve price.

On Wednesday, in addition to the blue briolette diamond, Sotheby's also is putting on the block a conch pearl, enamel and diamond Cartier bracelet that formerly belonged to Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain that's expected to sell for up to $1.4 million.

The Archduke Joseph Diamond joins a long list of other fabulous jewels, watches and other luxury goods sold in Geneva. Here's a look at the city's most eye-popping diamonds put up for auction in recent years:

ROYAL CONNECTIONS

In May 2012, Sotheby's sold the 34.98 carat Beau Sancy diamond to an anonymous bidder for $9.7 million. Marie de Medici had worn it at her coronation as Queen Consort of Henry IV in France in 1610. Then the diamond passed among the royal families in France, England, the Netherlands and Prussia. It was sold by the Royal House of Prussia.

Sotheby's also sold for $3.87 million the Murat Tiara, a pearl-and-diamond tiara created for the marriage of a prince whose ancestors included the husband of Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon's sister. Christie's auctioned off a 32.08-carat Burmese ruby and diamond ring that sold for $6.7 million, a world record price for a ruby sold at auction.

PEAR-SHAPED

In November 2011, the Sun-Drop Diamond of South Africa, a giant pear-shaped yellow gem weighing 110.3 carats, sold for more than $10.9 million at auction, beating previous records for a jewel of its type. Including commission, the unidentified telephone bidder paid almost $12.4 million for the gem. Other lots at the $70 million sale included a white cushion-shaped diamond weighing 38.88 carats that sold for almost $7 million, including commission.

HEART-SHAPED

In May 2011, Christie's fetched $10.9 million for a 56-carat heart-shaped diamond that was internally flawless and $7.1 million for a 130-carat Burmese sapphire. Sotheby's got $12.7 million for a rare emerald-and-diamond tiara that a fabulously wealthy German prince, Guido Henckel von Donnersmarck, commissioned for his second, Russian-born wife around 1900. An intensely pink 11-carat diamond from the mines of India sold for $10.8 million.

INTENSELY PINK

In November 2010, a rare pink diamond smashed the world record for a jewel at auction, selling for more than $46 million to well-known London jeweler Laurence Graff. Four bidders competed for the pink diamond, which was last sold 60 years earlier by New York jeweler Harry Winston. The seller chose to remain anonymous. The 24.78-carat "fancy intense pink" diamond immediately became known as "The Graff Pink."

By John Helprin Associated Press Nove 13, 2011

Archduke Joseph Diamond Sells For $21.5 Million, Setting Record

Street smarts pave road to success

You learn how to be book smart in school, but you'd better not forget that you also need to be street-smart. There's an old saying about how the "A" students in school end up working for the "B" and "C" students in life. I've always been amused by that notion.

I succeeded because I have street smarts. Here are some street-smart ideas that have worked for me over the years. If one or two of them work for you, that's terrific.

Idea 1: Take time to think about important situations that arise before taking any action. Unexpected problems come up in life. No matter what you are hit with, memorize these six words: "I want to think about it." All my life, I've seen people react instantly to events that took them by surprise, and they opened their mouths and hurt themselves. So practice: "I want to sleep on it. I want to think about it." You won't be sorry.

Idea 2: Agreements prevent disagreements. Whenever you have a meeting of real importance, summarize your understanding with a brief note back to the other party. I guarantee this will save you from a lot of "he said /she said" ... "I thought you meant" ... or "We never talked about that."

Idea 3: Leaks don't just come from faucets. Just remember that the walls have ears, or as I now say, the world has ears. Don't discuss private important business or personal matters where it can be overheard by other parties. Many deals have gone down in elevators. Smartphones and recording devices are everywhere.

Idea 4: Always let someone else set the table for you. Let other people talk you up. The sound carries farther when someone else blows your horn.

Idea 5: Dial up your telephone skills. Never, never just leave your name when you call someone. Always leave the exact time frame you can be reached to avoid playing telephone tag.

Also, whenever you do reach a customer, client, VIP or key person in your network, immediately ask them, "Is this a good time to talk?" Don't blow a deal just because of inconsideration.

If you have an assistant who takes your calls, you will always make a solid impression if your assistant says you are expecting their call.

Lastly, and this is a tough one, but try to only take phone calls at a specific time of day. This is a huge time-saver. Of course, there will always be VIP exceptions.

Idea 6: Don't be boring. Don't be predictable. Don't be dull. Put some creativity into your life and business. For example, I have various types of letters that I use on a regular basis. I have unique and creative letters of "congratulations" and "thank you," and then I always add a personal message to them. I do a report-card letter where I list 10 or so items and rank each item A+, assuming they deserve it. I'm a big proponent of putting a smile on people's faces, whether it's with creative gifts or personal notes.

Idea 7: Check out who is attending events to which you're invited. I often call the person in charge of an event to try and get a list of attendees and where they will be seated. The cocktail hour is usually not long enough to greet more than 25 percent of the crowd. However, if you have the seating chart, you know the exact table number, plus who's attending. Then you can zero in on the contacts you want to make. If you can't get a list in advance, arrive early and check the name tags to see who will be there.

Idea 8: Many times in life when you are faced with a difficult situation, you should try to apply this philosophy: If you can afford to buy your way out of a problem, you don't have a problem.

Idea 9: Call people who have experienced a setback, demotion or personal tragedy. Everyone calls people on the way up, but not so often on the way down. You will always be remembered for your kindness.

Mackay's Moral: A student of life considers the world a classroom.

Street smarts pave road to success

Friday, November 9, 2012

Mackay: Each employee has a part to play

A sea captain and his chief engineer got into an argument about which one was more important to the ship. Finally, they decided to trade places for a day. After a few hours, the captain suddenly appeared on deck, covered with oil and soot.

"Chief!" he yelled wildly, waving aloft a monkey wrench. "You'll have to come down here! I can't make the ship go!"

"Of course not!" replied the chief engineer. "We're aground!"

This story demonstrates that everyone is important. As I like to say, "The boat won't go if we all don't row." You must be committed to each other.

This concept is not new, but it is more important than ever in these challenging business times. Even as some businesses start to rebound, many of them have come to realize that their departments look radically different than they did prerecession. They understand that workers who have worn several hats have demonstrated better workflow and streamlined operations. As those businesses slowly expand, they see that the old practices and procedures probably needed changing long before.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, coined the phrase "the boundaryless organization." He believed that GE would be much more effective if the cultural, geographical and organizational barriers that separated the employees became more open. He put an emphasis on the boundary's ability to enable business to function, rather than to get in its way. In other words, everyone is important and must be included. Once every plant understood this, employees began talking to everyone across the aisle -- shipping to sales, manufacturing to research and development, and so on down the line.

We have employed this thinking at MackayMitchell Envelope Co. since we opened our doors more than 50 years ago. For example, I am often asked how many salespeople we have. My answer is always the same: "500." "Wow!" is the usual response, followed by, "How many employees do you have?" My answer is the same: "500."

Perhaps that's why they are also amazed when I tell them our company motto: "To be in business forever."

You see, we believe everyone is responsible for selling our company, if not a specific product. We are committed to the notion that the sales force may bring in the orders, but the factory must produce the quality product that our sales force promised. Our customer-service department needs to be in constant communication with the folks who bring in the business and those who work on the factory floor.

And the officers of the company are charged with making sure their departments understand the challenges and strengths of each of the other departments.

It all sounds so simple, but as a company grows, it takes a commitment at every level of the organization.

Howard Schultz, the entrepreneur who bought the original four-store Starbucks chain and turned it into a company that serves 50 million customers a week, wanted to establish a company where employees were respected. What was his inspiration? Memories of his father's life of working one low-paying job after another and going without decent compensation or insurance. Schultz wanted to create "the kind of company that my father never got a chance to work for, in which people were respected."

Schultz was selling coffee machines for a company when he noticed how many Starbucks was buying. He made the move to Starbucks and began to market the growing coffee company. Inspired by the "coffee culture" in Italy, he wanted to make that type of culture available in the Starbucks shops. Eventually, Schultz bought the company.

Starbucks' principles demonstrate exactly how the company views each of its employees:

Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.

Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.

Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting and delivery of our coffee.

Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.

Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.

Recognize that profitability is key to future success.

Those principles include and embrace every worker in the company. The employees know from the start what is expected of them and what they can expect from their employer.

You don't have to be a coffee drinker to appreciate that attitude.

Mackay's Moral: No one is as important as all of us.

by Harvey Mackay Nov 1 2012 Read more: Mackay: Each employee has a part to play

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Can Bigger Be Faster?

In nature, there's a tradeoff between size and speed. Whales are slow. Birds are fast. But organizations today need to be big and fast. Is it possible? Can organizations be both agile and scalable?

There's some good news. Science is revealing that biology doesn't have to rule the marketplace. And new models of leadership are emerging from some unlikely places.

Read more: Can Bigger Be Faster?

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