choices

Start, Stop or Continue

Laura Novakowski  -  Aug 13, 2012  -  , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. ~Maria Robinson~

 

 “Stop the habit of wishful thinking and start the habit of thoughtful wishes.” ~ Mary Martin~

 

“Whatever the struggle, continue the climb. It may be only one step to the summit.” ~Diane Westlake~

The Power of Pain

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 26, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Pain is symptom and effect, it is not a cause.  It shows up in a multitude of forms.  Pain slows, staggers and often stops us from functioning.  Understanding that pain presents itself helps to get to the source of deeper issues and problems; this is important for growth and change.

The most obvious pain is physical pain. Early manifestations may show up as mild aches and pains.  If the source of the problem is not identified, the symptoms become more acute and debilitating.

Symptoms such as backaches and headaches can range from slightly annoying  to severely debilitating.  The causes are too numerous to list, but if prolonged in duration it becomes important to medical advice.  Other more subtle symptoms may be overlooked and if not investigated can result in devastating physical problems.

Granted a lot more time could be given to pain in the physical realm, but what I believe is just as important to identify the pain shows up in our offices or workspace as well.   I often say to my clients, we can have this conversation in a hospital room or in a boardroom.  Allowed to go unchecked, undiagnosed and untreated, the power of pain can be catastrophic and cancerous to an organization.

Consider the pain that shows up in the office or workplace.  If left undetected, can fester to the point of irreversible damage.

Examples:

  • Employees come to meeting late, unprepared and non participative and leadership allows it.
  • Employers ridicule and reprimand in public and employees accept and scurry away to try to do better or staying below the radar.
  • Communication is unclear, no one questions or challenges.
  • Departments compete and derail and management lives lost sales and customers.

Obviously, this is a very, very short list. When the source of the pain is not assessed, the affects are lethal.  Turnover increases, firings are rampant and arbitrary. The toxins become like nails in a coffin. Reputations are destroyed. Resources are compromised.

Just as, in my opinion, no physical disease is hopeless, neither is cultural disease.  Using a simple model can ultimately heal the organization.  I’d like to reinforce the power of ACTS  to alleviate pain.

  • Leadership needs to assess the results and identify the gaps.
  • The entire organization needs to create a clear vision and values that people can align their goals and performance.
  • Plans and strategies need to support motivation and innovation to transform problems and obstacles into opportunities.
  • Teams  need to be held accountable through best performance practices and standards to overcome challenges in order to sustain and support success and growth.

Yes, it is uncomfortable when pain shows up. That being said, there is power in pain, if one is just willing to investigate and diagnose the true causes of cultural disease.

Make This a Refresh Your Business Day

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 18, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Business is organic and dynamic. Always changing, shifting and moving. Two quarters have past and half  of 2012 is gone and no matter how spectacular or dismal the year has been now is the time to rejuvenate.  Why bother you ask? Well, take it from a reformed workaholic, I am more effective, productive and valuable when I take a day to refresh instead of staying buried under piles of work. Believe me, the work will still be there tomorrow.

I’d like to make 7 suggestions to refresh, renew and revitalize your business. To let go of the weightiness of what is sometimes overwhelming work and that feeling of always pushing up hill.

  1. Clear your calendar.  The competition will keep nipping at our heels. The economy will continue to fluctuate. Clients will lose interest. Partners will depart. Time continues and flies by.  The fact is, we cannot control our competitors, the economy, partners, or clients. Nor can we control time – the clock will continue to tick, the sun will rise and set. Work and life goes on and we have totally missed the joy of it all.  Treat yourself to whatever gives you new energy and new ideas just for one day.
  2. Go on an adventure.All to often, we slog through work just to get it done.  Slogging doesn’t really generate quality work. It’s rote and dull, leaving us and everyone around us less than inspired too.   You don’t have to leave town.  It’s amazing how much there is to discover in your  community if you just decide to explore.  Markets, art galleries, corner pubs, parks abound. It’s amazing to Learn the local culture,  art and resources right in your own back yard.
  3. Visit a play ground. Kids are wonderful to watch. Find a bench and enjoy the laughter and screams of joy.    Children are so limitless and courageous.  Just watching them communicate, interact, compete and share is so much fun.  They don’t worry about dirt,  heat,  or even time. They are so in the moment.  They don’t concern themselves with the next deal,  the next crisis, the next challenge. They are just in the moment. Better yet, join in if you can.
  4. Take a walk in nature.  Trees and flowers abound this time of year.  Notice the vibrant colors.  Appreciate how plants and scrubs reside in close proximity. If you can find a stream, lake or the beach that’s terrific too. All the tides of the ocean to put you back into the rhythm of life.  There is no competition or fighting and  beauty abounds.
  5. Play music.  Rock and roll. opera, rap, country, jazz. Play it loud or soft. Allow the music to wash over you. Turn off phones and move away from computers, unless they are your source of music.  I find that music works great to help me refocus and recharge. Keeping ipods and cd’s handy are great energizers even for short breaks and car trips.
  6. Listen to audio books.If you normally listen to audio books for work or self improvement. Put them away.  Pick up a mystery, murder, sci fi, romance, comedy, historical fiction. Books are wonderful detractors,  taking you places that you might have only dreamed about.  I always travel with audio books, the trip is amazing and provides a brief respite from business conversations.  Safer too.
  7. Plant a garden. At the very least visit a nursery, green house or market and pick out one plant.  Notice their leaves, flowers, scents and textures.  Plants are so great and once you carry one back to your office or company, they will become a friend for life. They filter our air, love us unconditionally and only ask for water and gentle handling. And, they serve as a great reminder for the time you took for yourself – that break so needed – that one cannot help but smile.

Seven suggestions, low cost, huge value. You are so worth the time you invest in a refreshing your business day. For those who might struggle with full days, consider starting with an hour, that’s what I do and it makes all the difference in the value that I can add to my work and my life. Enjoy and be refreshed!

 

 

Want Customer Loyalty – Provide Extraordinary Customer Service

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 11, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Amazing how companies want,  even expect customer loyalty.  However, the problem is that business often becomes so wrapped up in making money, their idea of the ultimate, that providing extraordinary customer service as almost an after thought. The real reason customer loyal creeps, crawls or crashes away is because companies does treat customer service as a top priority.

What does customer loyalty look like any?  Loyal customers become a company’s best ad agency. They refer, they recommend, and they set up introductions.  They invite you to important networking functions, seek your advice and proactively share with you recommendations to help to improve your products and services.

Seth Godin makes a fabulous recommendation regarding how to build extraordinary customer service:

“Most of your competition spend their days looking forward to those rare moments when everything goes right. Imagine how much leverage you have if you spend your time maximizing those common moments when it doesn’t.

Tips for providing extraordinary customer service:

  1. Be sure that you are offering value.  After all you wouldn’t be in business if your customers weren’t helping you pay your bills. In today’s economic environment, everyone is scrutinizing every dollar.  The company that offers products or services that their customers believe that they cannot live without is the company that can and will weather any storm.  The value has to not be not just in the direct product or service but also in the ongoing support, interest and benefits received.
  2. Make it right. This should be a standing company policy. When a mistake, misstep, or misunderstanding occurs everyone, and that means everyone, responsible needs to on top of how a customer is treated. How amazing would it be to receive a call, note or email from an supervisor, manager or executive to follow up to ensure that the customer is satisfied with the outcome.  Making it right is more than apology, it could be additional service, reduction in a bill or eliminating the bill totally.  This always shows the customer that how much service is valued.
  3. Help employees to “fess up.”  The standing company policy needs to include that appreciating employees make a mistake, there will not be blame but action to support to correct the situation . Helping employees to use the problems as learning experiences goes a long way to  ensure customer as well as employee loyalty.  After all, aren’t employees our best internal customers?
  4. Meet customers needs. A great movie is Miracle on Thirty Fourth Street. Remember the story, the hero, Santa Clause, works in Coles, a department store.  He helps customers find the gifts they are seeking at Christmas by referring them to competitors if the item is not available.  At first, management is appalled and almost fire this Santa.  But, the customers are so impressed that they tell  the store manager that they now are loyal to Coles because Coles cared about them. Honest, creative, concerned service almost always leads to extraordinary loyalty.
  5. Display concern. The economy has affected everyone. Clients are no exception. Rather than browbeating and threatening for payment, consider working with your customers.  When you stay in touch with customers, they will let you know if they are struggling. Rather than lose the business, after all you can’t get blood from a stone, offer ways to help them, even if it means forgiving part of the bill. This has gone a long way for me. And, goes back to tip number one, I’m not saying to just give value, be value. Showing that you want their company to succeed is a valuable service and message to send.

Five simple strategies to provide extraordinary customer service that leads to customer service.

In closing, here are some wise words from Jeffrey Gitomer:

  Customer satisfaction is worthless.Customer loyalty is priceless.

12 Rules for Self Leadership

Laura Novakowski  -  Jul 04, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Source: Unknown

1. Set goals for your life; not just for your job. What you think of as “meaning of life” goals affect your lifestyle outside of work too, and you get whole-life context, not just work-life, each feeding off the other.
2. Practice discretion constantly, and lead with the example of how your own good behavior does get great results. Otherwise, why should anyone follow you when you lead?
3. Take initiative. Volunteer to be first. Be daring, bold, brave and fearless, willing to fall down, fail, and get up again for another round. Starting with vulnerability has this amazing way of making us stronger when all is done.
4. Be humble and give away the credit. Going before others is only part of leading; you have to go with them too. Therefore, they’ve got to want you around!
5. Learn to love ideas and experiments. Turn them into pilot programs that preface impulsive decisions. Everything was impossible until the first person did it.
6. Live in wonder. Wonder why, and prize “Why not?” as your favorite question. Be insatiably curious, and question everything.
7. There are some things you don’t take liberty with no matter how innovative you are when you lead. For instance, to have integrity means to tell the truth. To be ethical is to do the right thing. These are not fuzzy concepts.
8. Believe that beauty exists in everything and in everyone, and then go about finding it. You’ll be amazed how little you have to invent and much is waiting to be displayed.
9. Actively reject pessimism and be an optimist. Say you have zero tolerance for negativity and self-fulfilling prophecies of doubt, and mean it.
10. Champion change. As the saying goes, those who do what they’ve always done, will get what they’ve always gotten. The only things they do get more of are apathy, complacency, and boredom.
11. Be a lifelong learner, and be a fanatic about it. Surround yourself with mentors and people smarter than you. Seek to be continually inspired by something, learning what your triggers are.
12. Care for and about people. Compassion and empathy become you, and keep you ever-connected to your humanity. People will choose you to lead them.

 

Attitude – Leads to a Field of Dreams

Laura Novakowski  -  Jun 27, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

In the movie Field of Dreams, Kevin Cosner heard a voice whisper – “If you build it, they will come.”

More than a decade ago I was sitting in one of our numerous corporate meetings rehashing cutbacks, shrinking reimbursement and quality challenges and my mind started to wander.  “Why does every meeting have to be this way?” heart and soul seem to be shouting.  Suddenly, I heard a voice  whisper – build CASTLES – “Create Attitudes and Strategies Tapping Limitless Energy for Success.” 

Grabbing a napkin on the table in front of me – I scribbled these words down and passed it over to a colleague and dear friend.  She smiled indulgently and asked “So?” I answered without hesitation, “This is the focus on my company.”

Leaving the meeting, I gathered up reports, notes and my napkin.  Back in the office, I filled and tossed papers, somehow the napkin made it into my top drawer.  Moving up in the organization, I now was much more focused on working with building attitudes for success.  Sometimes it happened, sometimes it didn’t.  A great organization just not the place for me.

Several years and countless meetings later, I left that organization and opened my own business.  My vision and  focus were on creating those attitudes and strategies tapping limitless energy for success.  I just wanted to build CASTLES.

Fortunately, I have been blessed with a family and friends that supported positive thinking.  The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale has been one of the mainstays of my library.  My company’s name – Positive Power Strategies, Inc. is a constant affirmation of using a positive mental attitude.

The secret for me is in the belief that every person, every business, every community is an opportunity to build CASTLES.  With each client and company that I am engaged, I have the opportunity to discover wonderful creativity and opportunities that can be tapped leading to limitless energy and success. Together we discover tools and techniques that translate into action and extraordinary results.  I have the honor and privilege to share obstacles and opportunities, dreams and goals with so many people.  People whom given the time, tools and assistance with clarifying their vision and discovering their talents have the capacity to build their own amazing CASTLES.

My secret is an attitude that I am  building it and they will come.

Where is your field of dreams?  What would you like to build so that they will come?

Networking

Laura Novakowski  -  Jun 21, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

In an ever changing world, time, money, resources to knowledge are at a premium.  Learning how to build a powerful network is essential to overcome challenges and obstacles or capitalize on opportunities for you to succeed.

Networking is first and foremost about building relationships. Whether we are in a nine-to-five job, an entrepreneur or student – healthy, strong relationships become essential to achieve our dreams and accomplish our goals.

In the book Leadership and Self Deception published by the Arbinger Institute, there was a story about a new lawyer who was assigned to a huge project with a large team.  Life events caused him to him to disrupt his life and move.  When he arrived to work with the new project, most of the team was located on the 25th floor. He, however arriving later, was located on the 21st floor.  Feeling a little put out, he moved into his office and decided to dig in.  If he worked really hard someone was sure to notice. The project moved along. He missed lunches with the team because he didn’t travel to the 25th floor (free lunches were provided for the team daily and there was a team understanding that everyone was invited). Changes were made in the project, but because this young lawyer was isolated (mostly self imposed),  he didn’t incorporate changes, causing him to look ill prepared and his reports to be substandard. Another time, he was “chewed out” for being hard to find, although he was in his office working.   If he would have taken the time network internally, he would have avoided a lot of grief and anguish.

A young woman moved far from home. She wanted to learn a new industry and put her talents to good use. She had identified where she wanted to live and she moved. Jobs were limited. Her temporary job was over, but she decided to stay rather than move back home.  She worked six part time jobs, one of them in a restaurant.  One evening she was talking to one of the customers who shared with her that his company was looking to fill a new position. The more he talked, the more he described a person with her exact qualifications. When he asked, “Do you know anyone?”  Her response, “That sounds like me.” Within weeks she was interviewed at the corporate office and was hired for the job.  She “networked” her way into her “dream job.”

Relationships are imperative to our success. Limiting our contacts and our experiences greatly hampers our growth. Conversely, putting ourselves out there greatly influences our ability to capitalize on our talents and potential and get what we really, really want out of life. Networking is one key to opening many doors.  Network!

Rules of Engagement for a CULTURE of Success

Laura Novakowski  -  Jun 13, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

A business of the future will not be successful because of a fat the bottom line,  behemoth size,  community or political power. Instead, the  business of the future will be successful because of the culture.   Culture is defined asthe attitudes and behavior that are characteristic of a particular social group or organization.” (Source: www.wordnetweb.princeton.edu)

Often, organizations espouse that they  deliver high quality products or services to  their clients, engage in superior relations with their stakeholders and  employees, and are always, always in touch with their environment and community needs. That being said, does every “attitude and behavior” support such an espousal?

Without a positive and powerful culture, even the best business strategy will certainly fail.  As with any plan, knowing and implementing the best rules of engagement can certainly set the stage for success.

Here are 7 rules of engagement for a CULTURE of success

1. Communication.  John Milton, author of the 17th century epic poem Paradise Lost, once wrote,  “Good, the more communicated, the more abundant grows.” Organizations, misguided as they sometimes can be, still have intention of doing some good, adding some value, making a contribution. The rule of communication is to convey the strategy, philosophy and principles of the organization thus affording each individual the opportunity to buy in and participate at a much more significant level.  Engaging communication includes at a minimum the following:

  • A clearly defined vision
  • Clearly defined values which are described in terms of attitudes and behaviors

When this information is shared, the culture can rally around a common cause.

2. Understanding – “Seek first to understand, then to be understood,” has been attributed to many sources from the Bible to Stephen Covey. This basic tenant is so obvious that it is often overlooked. From the boardroom to the basement, every level the team must fully understand two primary functions:

  • The expectations of the organization
  • Each individual’s  role

There is no way success can be achieved if expectations are not fully understood. All too often, unclear roles encroach and invade. Full understanding cuts down on confusion.

3. Leadership – Former president of ITT corporation once wrote,  “Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitudes and actions.” Leadership has tremendous power. It sets the tone and influences results.  It has been reported that the two primary functions of leadership are to:

  • Set the objectives
  • Set the policy

Without objectives and policies, organizations for employees, stakeholders and even clients it is like setting people adrift in a boat with no destination, supplies or tools and expecting them to be resourceful enough to get there.

4. Teach – “We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover within themselves.” was one of the greatest messages that Galileo Galilei left as a legacy to the world. A teaching culture:

  • conveys that the work environment is a reciprocal one of learning and teaching
  • supports growth and experimentation

Teaching people to treat their jobs as a opportunity for  discovery is a great motivator.

5. Unite – Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Uniting is all about team building. Ford certainly had his own methods for getting people to work together which quite honestly doesn’t work very well. Today’s team needs:

  • to be treated as an asset, not a liability
  • to be respected and appreciated for strengths and talents

Even the assembly line process becomes more effective when the person working on the line shares insights and ideas to enhance existing systems.  The more a culture respects the team, the more the team operates in a synergistic, powerful manner.

6. Responsibility – “Responsibility finds a way. Irresponsibility makes excuses!” provided by Gene Bedley, – National Educator Of The Year.  The surest way to success is to ensure a  culture of accountability. In this culture, the expectations have been defined and two things always happen:

  • positive attitudes, behaviors and goals are rewarded
  • consequences are consistently conveyed and acted upon when attitudes and behaviors are negative and goals are not met

In a professional organization, the responsible employees are valued and valuable. The irresponsible or less than productive employee is held accountable, given support and direction as needed, and when still not meeting the organizational objectives and strategy are given the opportunity to part ways from the organization. This is perhaps one of the hardest rules to follow, but is absolutely the most imperative.

7. Engagement – “Denied The Opportunity To Use Their Talent, Imagination And Creativity For The Benefit Of The System They Will Be Equally Ingenious Working Against It.” from the authors of  Growing Your Own Heroes; The Commonsense Way to Improve Business Performance, John J. Oliver and Clive Memmott.  Gallup published a study in 2005 that revealed astonishing results.  The cost of disengagement as you can see is staggering.

In conclusion, the rules for building a culture for success are simple, they are just not easy.

Focus on Your Strengths

Laura Novakowski  -  May 22, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Dr. Donald O. Clifton, a graduate student in the mid 1950’s, started to look at the “hyper focus on deficits and disease” and wondered “What would happen if we actually studied what is right with people?” This question stimulated some profound research with Gallup that resulted in the late 1990’s created an assessment called Clifton’s Strengths Finder. This instrument has been used by millions of people to discover and develop their talents.

Clifton’s studies showed that “people who do have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are SIX times more likely to be engaged in their jobs and more than THREE times as likely to report having and excellent quality of life in general.” (Source: StrengthsFinder 2.0) This research is profoundly impacting levels of engagement personally and professionally around the globe.

Consider this Strength Finders formula for success:

 

A Positive Power Choice

Laura Novakowski  -  May 15, 2012  -  , , , , , , , , ,  -  No Comments

Page 2 of 41234

  • Subscribe to Our Newsletter via Email

    Enter your email address to subscribe to this Newsletter & Blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  • Contact Us