Three Steps To Lighten Up Your Life

Photo Credit:  Renato Ganoza, Creative Commons

Photo Credit: Renato Ganoza, Creative Commons

I got a new work bag.
I love it.

It’s light, and mostly empty.
My old bag was heavy and filled with junk I never used, but carried around everywhere.
Why did I do that?

I let the inertia of the old junky stuff drag me down everyday.

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I learned three things about this experience:
1. Unload the junk.
When I changed bags, I only moved the stuff I use, my iPad, a folder and a portable hard drive. That’s it. All the magazines, and receipts and loose change can get lost.
2. Keep it up
I bike to work a couple times a week and use a waterproof backpack. So on a regular basis, every week, I transfer over my three items, cleaning out anything that accumulated in the bottom of the other bag. This keeps me on the straight and narrow.
3. Don’t look back.
My burden is lighter as I travel to work. I don’t travel very far, so I can imagine if I did how much more of a difference it would make.
Now I have also taken this attitude to the rest of my life. What other junk is laying around my house that I need to get rid of? There is plenty I need to work on. Or also how much debt is dragging me down? All of this feels the same, lightening my burden by reducing the unnecessary.

I feel more in control of my life since my wife and I started purposefully eliminating our debt, since I changed work bags, and since I realized I can simplify one step at a time.

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What are you carrying that is unnecessary?


Hiring For The Antarctic, Or: Ask For What You Want

Antarctic Expedition

When I revamped my hiring process this spring, I had to change so many things. First and foremost was my attitude about who I wanted on my team. I then had to decide how I would attract those types of people.
I learned about the attitude I should have in hiring from another book I have referenced before, Start With Why by Simon Sinek.

One of the author’s themes in this book is that you have to appeal to people who believe what you believe.
Simon shares a story that demonstrates the right way to recruit.

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In 1914, an adventurer named Ernest Shackleton set out with a team of 27 men to cross the Antarctic continent, which had never before been done. They didn’t accomplish their mission. After many storms and being trapped in the ice on their boat for 10 months, they traveled hundreds of miles in their life boats to find help.

Eventually they were saved, and all of them survived the ordeal. Simon, in his book, says that this wasn’t luck, but an example of a great hiring process in action.
Before the expedition, Shackleton ran an ad in the London Times for his crew. He didn’t offer benefits. Simon says that he didn’t offer paid time off or amazing pay. This is what Shackleton’s ad said:

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“Men wanted for Hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in case of success.”

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If you advertise for the right type of people, the others will weed themselves out.
Ernest Shackleton got the right men for the job because that’s who he asked for.

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Who do you want on your expedition? Are you asking the right questions?


3 Indispensable Recruiting Tricks I Learned From Dave Ramsey

Photo Credit: thetaxhaven, Creative Commons

I have owned my own business for 5 years and I thought I knew how to hire people. Then I looked back at my record, and realized how wrong I was.

I learned a lot from Dave Ramsey and his team this spring. My wife and I went to his EntreLeadership course in Tucson in May.
One of the biggest things I learned was a hiring process.

In my past, I had hired and let several people go in my few short years in business. I never felt (with a couple of exceptions) I had the right people on board. I had learned early on, that if someone didn’t fit, that I shouldn’t hold onto them for too long. I knew they could do a lot of damage to my business. But I almost always ended up in the same situation a few months later after we had hired somebody else.
To borrow a metaphor from Jim Collins, I was good at getting the wrong people off the bus, but I kept inviting their friends right back on.
Dave Ramsey teaches in his book and lectures entitled EntreLeadership, that business owners need to:

1. Take more time hiring. Three or four times as long. And make it an involved process.
So what if you miss out on some opportunities on the way, because guess what: if you hire the wrong person too quickly, you will have to let them go and then start over anyway. I learned that I should take the time up front and avoid the turnover I had been experiencing.
Dave Ramsey also explains his process in-depth in his book, but I will share a couple of my favorites:
2. Do you like them?
I had hired people before that I did not want to invite over to my house. I didn’t want to spend extra time with them. Hello! If that wasn’t a clue, I don’t know how much clearer a sign I needed. Don’t waste time working with people you don’t like, especially if you hired them.
3. The spousal interview
In my last round of hiring, my wife and I took out our final candidates and their spouses to dinner. A double date, essentially. It was great, we got to see them interact in a social setting, and we got to see that they weren’t married to “crazy” as Dave Ramsey puts it.
We have worked hard in our business to develop a certain culture and we wanted to introduce new people who would respect and improve it, not drag it down. We succeeded in that regard so far, and actually like to have our team over to our house occasionally.

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What successes or failures have you had hiring or being hired?

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Three Leadership Lessons From A Horse Whisperer

Photo Credit: @Doug88888, Creative Commons

I met a horse whisperer tonight.

I have actually known him for years, but had never really talked to him about what he does and how he does it.
We were at a social function and I was standing there, with Larry the cowboy, chatting about nothing in particular. Then I asked him about his work.

His eyes lit up and he talked non stop about his passion and his work with animals and people for 30 minutes at least. He told me things about horses and leading them that I had learned elsewhere about leadership in general.  In fact, he uses them to rehabilitate people who are challenged in life for one reason or another. He teaches them to develop a healthy relationship with a horse in a day, and then they can take those lessons and use them with people for the rest of their lives.
Three of the leadership lessons I learned from him tonight are:
1) Look the horse in the eye. You have to build a relationship of trust with the animal, and the eye is the portal to trust.
2) Become the horse’s friend. Exude positive energy. Be positive in your interactions. Smile, laugh, praise often, and reward positive responses.
3) Have boundaries. Don’t let the horse be too familiar. Draw a line and let them know you are still their leader and need respect.

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Now I know most leaders don’t lead animals, but lead humans. There is a difference. But I had never thought of the similarities before now.
As Larry was passionately describing his philosophy, I kept thinking how much he loves his work, and how he helps horses and their owners with his teaching. The more he told me, the more I learned about horses and about leadership.
Maybe we’re not so different after all.

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How can you apply these lessons to those you lead?