Grey: The New Black

For those of you who have never seen Emperor’s New Groove, Kronk (the big guy) has been ordered by the evil Empress to get rid of the current Emperor, Kuzco (guy in bag down stream), so that she may take over the throne.  That’s where we find our troubled friend.  After he carries out what was ordered he begins to have second thoughts and discusses with his good side and bad side about his decision.

Now I know this is a little corny but have you ever found yourself in a situation where you go back and forth about if something is right to do?  There is a great difference between black and white and sadly most of us can’t seem to keep the two sides separate.  We tend to pick piece of white and black logic and mix them together to create a decision that is “right” for us.  This is the grey area.

When in making decisions in business, there are plenty of decisions made in the grey area.  I see it every day from “making a bluff” to get a client to do what you want to hiring illegal workers for the kitchen of your restaurant.  These decisions seem fine and manageable at first but eventually more grey decisions are going to have to be made to cover for the first.  The worst part is that in time you will be caught.  Then all your work goes down the drain and you are no longer reliable.

Relationships are key in business and you can’t build a network of relationship on grey decisions.  Trust is a must for relationships and grey decision destroy that trust.  Your relationships are also a network; all connected to each other.  One decision can affect the entire network.

Why risk damaging your network and reputation?  As hard as it may be, keep white and black separate and make the right decision.  Grey may look like a third option but it’s just the new black.


The New Guy

Do you remember what it was like to be in Elementary School?  Middle School?  High School?  Do you remember what it was like to be the new guy?  You, like many others, probably did anything to fit in.

Now do you remember starting your first job?  Still have to find a way to fit in, to build rapport with your co-workers.  The same happens for any new position when moving up the ladder in a company.  Whether a floor manager, general manager, district manager, or even as high as the CEO, being the new boss brings the same basic feelings as being the new kind in school.

However, being the new boss tends to bring out the same results.  We feel like we have to show the new crew that we are in charge.  This can lead to frustration and can actually gain you less respect.  Here are some DOs and DON’Ts when you’re the new boss:

  1. DON’T Change Everything – sometimes there are some things that need changing, but most of the time it’s just our selfish way of showing we are in charge.  The company (usually) has been around longer than you have so keep those procedures.
  2. DO Meet Your People – In many companies, the employees feel like they aren’t taken care of.  This happens mostly because they don’t know you.  Visit the offices and meet your employees, talk to them, ensure them you have the companies and their interest in mind.
  3. DON’T Be a Know-it-All – You may be the one in charge now, but even you don’t know everything.  If you don’t know something, ASK.
  4. DO Be Human – Your now Superman, no one is.  Be real with people.  It gives people a reason to trust you.

These are just the basics.  Just remember that you are still the same person, just with a new title.  All the title indicates is that you have more responsibilities.  If you know your company and stay real, your will succeed.


Babysitters for Hire

ImageAgha Hasan Abedi, a banker and philanthropist, once said, “The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.”  This sums up two styles of management:

  1. The babysitter – managers who loom over the work area ready to reprimand any wrong doings.
  2. The leader – someone who guides and shows their employees “how to.”

Management is only effective when your employees respect you.  In order to lead people effectively and gain that respect managers need the following skills: listening, communicating, and empathy.

Have you ever been asked, “Are you listening?” Let me guess: you reply with a wholehearted yes.  Then the dreaded, “What was the last thing I said?” question follows.  Let me guess again: you are left looking foolish and embarrassed because you can’t tell them what they said last.  This is because in all reality, you weren’t listening.  We hear sounds all day: the abrupt alarm that starts our day, the dog barking next door, the sounds of traffic, the click of keys on a keyboard, the cheers of the sports viewers at a bar, the ding of the microwave finishing your late night meal … these all mesh together to create the cacophony of life. Even though we hear these sounds do we really listen?  Hearing is the brain acknowledging that there is noise, listening is the brain deciphering the message within the noise.  College students are very familiar with this difference.  Many times students sit through class and hear the professor’s voice yammer on about why A plus B equals C or the differences in meiosis and mitosis yet when asked about the content of the lecture directly after they cannot give a recount.  This is because they weren’t actually listening.  For management to work properly, managers MUST learn to listen to what their surrounding and people, employees and customers alike, are saying.

Listening is key to being effective and gaining respect but listening is no good unless you know what to do with the information.  One must know how to use the heard information to communicate the correct message for the situation at hand.

More and more the education world is realizing how important communication is.  There are classes on public speaking, debate, everyday communicating, verbal versus non-verbal communication, etc.  Dr. Mark Rutland, the President of Oral Roberts University, always says that “Any word sounds funny if you put the emphasis (em-FAW-sis) on the wrong syllable (sill-AH-ble).”  Without knowing it, many people do place incorrect emphasis on the wrong place in their messages.  The number one way this is done is with tone.  Take this sentence for example: “What do you want?”  Now, re-read this question aloud with a frustration-free, actually interested attitude.  Ok, now re-read this question aloud with an irritated, busy attitude.  Hear the difference?  These feelings and more come through with our words with our tone.  Tone, among other verbal and non-verbal signals, can distort our message we wish to communicate.

Now let’s say listening and communicating are strengths for you, but you are still having trouble gaining respect and managing your crew.  A possible hindrance could be you lack empathy.

STOP!  Don’t finish that thought.  You’re probably thinking that empathy seems a strange NEED in skills for managers; that empathy has no place in the business arena.  Think again.  Many misconstrue empathy as being soft and feeling sorry, pity, or bad for an individual.  That definition is sympathy.  Empathy is being able to identify with or experiencing vicariously another’s thought, feeling, or attitude.  This skill is what gives you respect.  The number one situation empathy is used is when mistakes are made.  Babysitters reprimand the individual for their mistake, not caring to listen to the other side of the situation and understand why the employee did what they did.  Leaders take in the situation, listen to the other side of the story, and place themselves in the employee’s shoes.  When managers place themselves in the employee’s shoes, they are empathizing with the employee.  They feel and think what the employee felt and thought.  This gives them an opportunity to teach and correct the mistake instead of a slap on the wrist and giving the employee a subconscious fear of any similar situations.  Empathy is what makes a manager a leader instead of a babysitter.

What management style are you?  Remember that babysitters are feared but leaders are respected.  Your management will show more positive results when you gain respect with your employees by listening to the information they have for you, communicate your information clearly, and show empathy in all situations.

Are you looking for babysitters or leaders?

Life Is Limited

Can you imagine?  What if our speed limit signs looked like this?  I am someone who loves to drive fast.

What about you?  I bet, whether you drive fast or not, have days when traffic is too slow or you’re running late and wish you could go as fast as you would like.

Life can sometimes feel like we are held back by limits.

Society has a mentality that we should rid the world of limits; limits hold us back from our full potential.  While this can be true about some aspects of life, limits are also there to keep us safe.

Going back to the speed limit analogy, while it is fun to drive fast with the sunroof down and the wind in your hair, some roads are too dangerous to drive as you please.  If a turn is too tight, you could tip the vehicle.  If the road you are traveling is too narrow, you might misjudge the distance between you and the cross-traffic vehicle and hit them.  If in a neighborhood with lots of kids, you might not have time to react to the child who crossed the street without looking both ways.  Speed limits keep us safe.

Life has limits.  Don’t focus on how to get rid of them.  Focus on how to use them to succeed.  When you take the time in life to slow down, you usually make something extraordinary.


Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Christina Aguilera, Liam Neeon, Katy Perry, Charlie Sheen, Lindsey Lohan, Kim Jong Il, Dr. Laura: What do all these people have in common?

Fame.   According to the dictionary fame is a widespread reputation.  All the names above are known for something specific: Obama Barak – President of the United States, Donald Trump – accomplished and rich businessman, Christina Aguilera – talented vocalist.  All these people have positive, good reputations.  On the other hand, fame can be negative: Charlie Sheen – drug addict and player, Lindsey Lohan – partier, Kim Jong Il – dictator and bad leader.  Most people wouldn’t think of one of the last three names when asked name three famous people.  Why is that?  That’s due to the fact that fame is commonly accompanied by another attribute.

Success.  We all have different ideas on what determines success.  The dictionary says that success is the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.  Many times fame is said to happen when one is successful.  While the dictionary is right about the first part of success, I would like to propose another measurement to find success.

Happiness.  A word meaning to have the quality of being happy.  To be happy is to delight in or be pleased with a particular thing; someone characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy.  This is assumed to be paired with success.  However, if success is defined as no more work with the attainment of money, titles, and the like, then happiness is not always in the picture.

The only way you are going to be truly happy and successful is if you are doing that which you love. 

Thomas Edison was someone who knew what he loved.  When asked about his failed attempts at inventing the light bulb he said that he didn’t fail, he found all the ways in which not to make a light bulb.  If Edison had let those mistakes keep him from pursuing what he loves, we might not have the light bulb today.

In short, find that which you love and go after it.  Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  Those mistakes are life’s greatest lessons.  Success doesn’t equal happiness, happiness equals success.