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Preparing Your Thought For The Day

By Paul David Walker – Excerpt from: Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling

We recently did our monthly Open Line web conference on the topic of Preparing Your Thought For The Day. We had so much interest, not only domestically but also globally, that we thought that we would include the audio for this Open Line with an excerpt from the new book, Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling by Paul David Walker. If you’d like to get a copy, please look to the end of the article for the link to Amazon.

Open Line webinar audio, Preparing Your Thought For The Day

http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/openline/032415/OpenLine032415.mp3

Know the Difference

The truth is that anything can cause your conscious mind to let go of comparative thought and find Integrative Presence. It would be impossible to catalog all the experiences people have had. What is important is to know the difference between the two states of mind. Meditation is a practice that will help you find your personal roadmap into this powerful 2049233526_358678b16e_zstate.

When I have asked people to describe how they feel when they experience Integrative Presence, they say words such as confident, at peace, exhilarated, powerful, graceful, focused, and present. Some report a slow-motion effect.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told how the five seconds he had to win the NBA championship with one shot seemed like five minutes. He felt relaxed, as if he had all the time in the world, yet he appeared to move like lightning to the rest of the world—the very definition of Integrative Presence. His creativity, within these few precious seconds, was pure genius. He was integrating the skills he had learned over the years, his desire to make the shot, and the flow of the moment, without interruption from his thoughts.

Most people have experienced this state of mind. The question is what percentage of our life is spent in this state? The art of getting into this state of mind is letting go of thoughts and connecting with the flow of events in the moment. Meditation is practice for your mind and body. An athlete must practice his or her sport; a leader must practice disciplining his or her mind.

Practices & Actions

As in sports, there is no substitute for practice. Knowing how to move from “normal thinking” into Integrative Presence comes from practice.

Take time to connect with your peak experiences and observe how you transitioned yourself. Find ways to still your mental chatter and connect with the present, and you will become a much more effective and happier person.

The following is a simple meditation technique that can help you clear your mind. It will help you establish an inner roadmap to stillness, which enables you to flow with present reality.

1. Find the Right Environment: Find a quiet place and arrange to have no distractions or interruptions, whether it’s a special place in your home or a place out in nature. It is especially important in the first stages of meditation to find the right location. It helps you move toward stillness naturally. Over time you will be able to meditate anywhere, at any time, even as you walk through hallways.

2. Sit Comfortably: You want your body to be at ease. Find a comfortable chair and be sure not to cross your arms or legs. Sit up straight so you will not have to move should one drop of water 578897_640of your limbs fall asleep.

3. Take Three Deep Breaths: When you take these deep breaths, hold the oxygen in as long as you can on each breath, and let the oxygen out suddenly once you can no longer hold the air.

4. Breathe Normally: Return to your normal breathing pattern. Close your eyes and put your attention on your breathing process. Follow your breath in and then out. Notice the rhythm and depth of each of your breaths. Spend two to three minutes just following your breath with your attention.

5. Imagine a Beautiful Place: Imagine yourself in a beautiful place in nature. Each time you begin meditating, come back to this place. It will serve as an anchor for peace and help you to relax each time. When you have felt the peace of this place, use it as a background and return your attention to your breathing.

6. Let Go of Your Thoughts: As thoughts arise in your mind, do not resist them. Practice observing without processing, and then letting go of them. You can imagine them floating up into the sky or being absorbed by nature. As you let go, return your attention to your breathing.

7. Deepen Your Breathing: After you find your natural rhythm, increase the depth of your breathing. Inhale 10 to 15 percent deeper and exhale 10 to 15 percent deeper. Play with this deeper rhythm until it becomes natural. Continue to let go of thoughts as they arise.

8. Notice Stillness: At the moment you fully inhale, just before you exhale, notice that a still point occurs. Likewise, after you have fully exhaled, the same still point happens. One, the inhale, is full and the second, the exhale, is empty. Notice the difference.

9. Fall into Stillness: At times when your total focus is on this deeper breathing process, you will notice the stillness inside you. Let your consciousness fall into this stillness. Let go and don’t be afraid; it is your destination. Stay there as long as your ego will allow. It might take a number of sessions before you achieve this stillness, but it is worth the practice and discipline.

10. Open Your Eyes: After about twenty to twenty-five minutes, gently open your eyes without moving and notice the world around you. Notice your state of mind and journal your experience.

11. Take This State of Mind with You: Practice staying with this state of mind as you get up from your chair and walk, focusing on your breathing as before. Find a rhythm between your steps and your breath. Count how many breaths per step until you find a comfortable pace that is a little deeper than normal. This will help you begin to integrate this state of mind into your daily life.

12. Do Short Meditations: Once you have mastered this practice you will be able to take a few minutes to clear your mind between meetings or even with short pauses during meetings. Meditation creates the same state of being that Florence Joyner and other athletes achieve when they are “in the zone.” Your consciousness will naturally expand and you stones-825374_640will be able to perform more effectively. Once again, there is no substitute for practice. As you continue to meditate, you will find the quality of your thought improving. You will have great ideas and find it easy to solve problems. Creating this space of stillness within you leads to Integrative Presence or being “in the zone.” Meditation is a powerful tool for those who are inventing their future. It helps with idea generation and stress reduction. If you are a leader, you need both to be successful.

With practice, every aspect of our lives will improve. Practice being the stillness in the storm, a person who listens, a person who puts aside personal views and is moving like a basketball player in the zone. Demonstrate real stillness when it comes to the performance part of leadership, in contrast to the bombastic person who is constantly throwing shallow or reactionary viewpoints.

Stillness, and the awareness that come with it, creates wonder and humility. The more we know, the more we see endless possibilities and these create a natural humility. As I have said to many of the CEOs with whom I work, it is hard to criticize humility.

Excerpt from: Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling, Copyright Paul David Walker. To get a copy, please click here.  Or copy and paste this link into your browser:
http://www.amazon.com/Invent-Your-Future-Starting-Calling/dp/0986158518/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1429213324&sr=8-1&keywords=Invent+Future+Starting

Additional Ideas to Consider

• Share this article/audio with team members, family and others.
• Consider this topic for a retreat or management meeting.
• Need a retreat location? You may want to take a look at this location.

Book Suggestions

Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling – Paul David Walker
Unleashing Genius, Leading Yourself, Teams and Corporations – Paul David Walker.
Play to Win – Larry Wilson
The Path to Awakening – Shamar Rinpoche
The Power of Now – Eckhart Tolle

Permission is needed from Paul David Walker to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2015 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years as well as many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include StarKist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the bestselling book, Unleashing Genius, Leading Yourself, Teams and Corporations. and his new book, Invent Your Future Starting With Your Calling. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development. LCS can test in 19 different languages, provide domestic and international interpersonal coaching and offer a variety of workshops – team building, interpersonal communication and stress management.

To order the books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code” please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

We recently launched a new service called Sino-Am Leadership to help executives excel when stationed outside their home country. American managers in Asia and Asian managers in America face considerable business, personal, and leadership challenges because of the cultural differences. This unique program provides personal, one-on-one coaching. For more information visit, http://www.lighthouseconsulting.com/performance-management/talent-development/sino-american-management-style/.

 

Cracking the Strategic Planning Code – Ideas from the Experts

By Larry Cassidy, Marc Emmer, Diana Ho, Brian Oken, Steve Phillips & Paul David Walker

When the topic of strategic planning comes up, some individuals get very excited about the planning process while others consider it just a waste of time. With so many different styles and approaches, we thought that we’d ask a number of experts for how they approach this topic and the top three key points to think about before your next strategic planning meeting.Team activity

Larry Cassidy

Strategic Conversation

My view of so-called “strategic planning” is that today it is less an event and more an ongoing conversation. The most effective organizations are evolving, and for me that moves viable strategic thinking away from being an annual event and toward an ongoing conversation.

The idea that we can somehow nail down where and how things are (and, projected, where and how they will be into the future), and then craft a lasting response, is ineffective. The world in which we operate is constantly changing; thus, we too must participate in that same game, which requires a continuing and continuous conversation.

As that applies to crafting strategy, I recommend frequent sessions in which the “team” comes together to discuss the future. For each session, step one is to identify the most important questions which must be answered; step two is to arrive at agreement on the answers; and, step three is to define action steps based on those answers (what, why, who, how, when, resources and milestones). As you prep for these ongoing sessions, consider:

  1. Inviting more of, rather than less of, your management and supervisory team. Interesting ideas often come from the “less likely” participants. And participation invites a sense of “ownership.”
  2. Requesting from the attendees, in advance, the questions they feel are the most important to the firm’s future. You may be surprised at what you get.
  3. Building each session around a few key questions, using multiple breakout groups to discuss each question, and mixing people and functions within breakout groups for each topic discussion (thus creating fresh energy and different chemistry around each question).
  4. And, inviting a few key outsiders to participate in each session (good strategic thinkers, creative types, folks who will challenge and “stir the pot”). You will find their input tends to raise the bar for those on your team.

Marc Emmer

Strategic Planning: The Entrepreneurs Dilemma

There is one thing that almost all entrepreneurs have in common; they want to grow. Yet determining where and how to grow can prove elusive, even to the most savvy strategists.

Which wayOften, management teams face gut wrenching strategic choices. While growing a core business incrementally offers a high probability of success, companies with a singular focus are subject to concentration risk that inhibits enterprise value. The more the company grows, the bigger the problem becomes. A diversification strategy reduces concentration, but growth far afield from one’s core competency, increases the probability of failure.

Often, entrepreneurial companies also lack the talent to focus on transformational business model innovations that could drive competitive advantage. Unfortunately, many companies create a 12 month forecast within their core business, and pass it off as a strategic plan. A well thought out vision balances the short term and the long term and clarifies the company’s value proposition and strategic priorities.

Here are some success factors to consider before engaging in strategic planning:

  1. Market Analysis-A thoughtful review of trends in the industry that will impact future demand.
  2. A level of preparedness on the part of the participants so that they are in a position to make fact-based strategic decisions.
  3. A process that enables execution on strategic objectives.

As we approach the time of year when many companies formalize their business strategies, it is important to structure a framework that ensures that management takes the time to think, both about the core business and potential disruption. Great companies weave strategic thinking into their management DNA and then convert strategies into actionable measurable tactics that drive results.

Diana Ho

The Art of Strategic Planning

Strategic planning has fallen in and out of favor numerous times since my earliest days as a planning facilitator. While my experience base and process toolbox has grown over the years, so has my “beginners mind.” Rather than bringing a methodology that works for all, I approach each planning engagement as a blank slate, pay attention, listen deeply and design each process based upon the unique characteristics of the client organization.team mtg

Every organization has a strategic plan whether they know it or not. The opportunities embedded in a “strategic planning process” include a) making the plan explicit, b) aligning expectations, c) leveraging resources and d) building a skilled planning- and accountability-minded team. The process of planning is equally as important, if not MORE important, than the resulting “plan;” and the effectiveness of any planning process is directly correlated to the extent that it is aligned with the leadership/power structure of the organization. So design the process well, Grasshopper!

When considering external resources, decide where your needs lie along the continuum of “expert” (who will tell you what your process and strategy ought to be) and “facilitator” (who will leverage your organizational resources, ask questions, provide options, build capacity and hold your feet to the fire).

Three things to consider before having a strategic planning meeting:

  1. What is the organizational “appetite” for planning; should we be thinking in terms of a “planning meeting” or a “planning process and mindset?”
  2. Who needs to be at the table?
  3. What are the organizational and personal rewards and consequences for planning or not planning?

Brian Oken

Strategic Planning for the Rest of Us

If you’re like most of us, you’re leading a small to medium-sized business with limited resources, no time and a million things you need to get done. To get the best results, I believe you should narrow your focus, engage your team and make your efforts count.

But before you proceed with any group planning activities, you should:

  1. Be clear about what you want for your business. Do you want to grow market share, sell in the near future, build a legacy…?
  2. Have a competent management team in place.
  3. Decide whether you’re going to use an outside facilitator or Do-It-Yourself.

Here’s my approach to strategic planning:

Be focused and realistic. It’s impossible for any group to successfully accomplish more than 1 or 2 strategic goals a year because of all the associated projects and tasks. If you global-teamtry to do too many things at once, it will dilute your focus and compromise your results. Remember, you want to actually achieve these goals.

Generating great financial results is a team effort. Your plan and strategy (and the reasons for them) must be presented in such a way that everyone in your company can easily understand them. The plan must also connect daily activities to company goals. This is the only way your employees will feel connected to your overall vision. People need feedback and need to know their efforts are making a difference. Be transparent about your results and celebrate your successes!

Implementing a strategic plan is a methodical approach and an ongoing process to help you and your team work smarter and get better results. But in order for this to happen, your plan must drive the agenda of your staff meetings and be referenced and updated on a regular basis. Once you see how an effective plan can help you achieve your goals, I doubt you will ever operate without one again.

Steve Phillips

The Strategic Planning Meeting – Turbo charge your approach!

Strategic planning is by its nature, time consuming and hard! Assessing the environment and the company and then positioning and aligning resources takes tons of effort. So much effort that many Fortune 500 companies just don’t do a good job. And… it’s these companies that rarely hit their potential. But true strategic planning, (like what McKinsey or BCG does) can easily cost $1M or more. So what is the answer? How does a company do great planning at a small fraction of the cost? I think a turbo charged approach meets most everyone’s needs. It’s quick, uses your best people, gets everyone bought in to the implementation of the plan, builds-in an accountability system, and gets it mostly right. Think of it as a leveraged approach.

So what is the process for a turbo charged approach? It’s easy! I find it most useful to use a third party (not the CEO) to organize the process, collect and analyze the data, set the objectives and outcomes for the meeting (with the CEO) design the agenda, and to facilitate the meeting. In this way, people can do their work and the third party can do all the leg work. Then when it’s most important, everyone can meet and use their time together wisely.

So how to approach turbo charged strategic planning?

  1. Pick a third party to organize and drive the process. It can be a senior level consultant (like me 🙂 ) or an internal specialist but it should not be the CEO or President. They have much better things to do than the leg work that it will take to make the meeting effective.
  2. Collect valid data. Some folks like to collect both external data and internal data but some are fine with just picking the brains of their top folks on what we really need to do next to be most successful. (Remember, this is a leveraged “turbo charged” approach). I suggest the third party personally interview participants for about 60 minutes each. This should be plenty of time to assess what should be done next year.
  3. Create a specific and detailed agenda based upon what you learned from your data analysis. This should also include the specific outcomes and objectives for theteam lightbulb meeting and detailed agenda items. Too many times people just put topics on the agenda without ever fully considering: the type of item, the champion of the item, the outcome of the item, the process for the item, the time line for the item, the pre-work needed to be ready to efficiently use time, etc. Creating a great agenda is an art and time consuming. There are many considerations and it often takes much longer than anyone expects but when done right, huge amounts get accomplished in the meeting seamlessly and the group actually enjoys the process (and if I have my way, walk out of the room a more effective team. See #5).
  4. Use a professional facilitator for the meeting. I am not just saying this because I am one. I am saying it because it works a thousand times better than not having one! I would much prefer to be maximizing everyone’s time and using each person’s brain in the room rather than have one of those folks worrying about lunch, the air conditioning or making sure the conversation stays on point. A pro will pay for themselves a hundred times over.
  5. Use the strategic planning meeting to tune up your team. There is no question that teams outperform groups of individuals on complex tasks about 99% of the time. It used to be that we did “teambuilding”. Now I find the best way to build your team is while they are working on a real project. A professional will know how to do this seamlessly and effectively and at the same time you are setting up your plans for the future. It’s a win win win win. Better strategy, alignment, direction, and teamwork!
  6. Do quarterly follow-ups to create a built-in accountability system, adjust the plan as needed, speed up the team, and continue to develop toward high performance. It only takes about 4 hours for the quarterly meeting to meet its objectives but most groups try to leverage or maximize their precious little time together. High performing teams will rotate who is in charge of each meeting and give them total freedom to run the session where and when and how they see fit. They can be at client sites, hotels, new offices, wherever will work for the theme of the day. Most groups put in place a ¾ day or all day quarterly meeting and use the extra time to develop everyone, either with team building, leadership development, site tours, or expert panels or guest speakers. It is a day everyone looks forward to. And then once a year, usually 4th Q, we do a longer retreat to close the year formally and kick off the next, all in alignment with the executive committee and shareholders meetings.

So there you have it. A leveraged approach to your strategic planning. Pick a third party to run the process, collect and analyze data, create a specific and detailed agenda, hire a professional facilitator to run the meeting, and create a built-in accountability system that ensures people stay on track and in alignment. This process works like crazy, takes very little time, is not terribly expensive, uses your people where they are best and does not waste their time. It creates ownership and buy-in, decreases resistance and makes full implementation almost assured, creates strategic alignment, builds your team and helps them to achieve and stay at high performance. It gives you a full opportunity to participate as a leader, makes everyone smarter and leaves your organization aligned, agile, collaborative, and highly productive.

Paul David Walker

Understand Present Reality

There are flows of intelligence that manifest as multidimensional streams of cause and effect at every level of life. These flows have momentum and move forward with or without you. In business these flows are formed by market wants and needs. As you consider your business strategy, it is important to understand these flows and position your window of opportunitycompany to use these flows, like a surfer at the sweet spot of a wave, to move forward accurately. It is pointless to try to swim against the current. As you ride these flows forward you will be able to see opportunities as they emerge before your competitors. The objective is to find emerging trends that lead to a window of opportunity, as we do with our clients illustrated here.

The Right Plan For You

It is dangerous to develop a strategic plan that does not take into account your companies true capabilities. If a surfer chooses a wave that is too big for their skills they will be drowned or seriously hurt, the same is true of a company. It does not serve well to develop a business strategy that requires more resources, talent, or momentum than the company can realistically achieve. Find a place in the flow of your market that acerbates you, not one that will drown you and your company. Once you succeed and gain power and skill, develop a bigger plan.

Explosive Targeted Actions

After understanding your place in market trends, build a simple focused strategic plan. Then eliminate all activities that do not support that plan. Make sure every executive understands that this is not a drill. It is a road map for all actions. Paint a compelling picture of the outcomes at every stage in your plan and develop the courage to act. Teams with clear missions, a sense of urgency, the stillness of a master, and explosive targeted actions are the ones that will win in the 21st century. Those that hesitate will lose. To summarize:

  1. Understand present realitytarget road
  2. Develop the right plan for you, not a grandiose fantasy
  3. Commit to explosive targeted actions

 

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Larry Cassidy has been a Group Chair with Vistage International (formerly TEC International) for over 27 years. He currently works monthly with more than 50 Southern California executives, in three chief executive groups and one group of key executives, regarding all aspects of their businesses. Larry can be reached at hndicapper@gmail.com and 714-460-3090.

Marc Emmer is President of Optimize Inc. a management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning. Marc is the author of Intended Consequences, Design the Future you Wish to Create. Marc can be reached at marc@optimizeinc.net or at 661-296-2568.

Diana L. Ho is a seasoned facilitator/executive coach, percussionist, book-binder and kick-ass project manager. She began her career in retail merchandising and was Vice President and division head in a Los Angeles management consulting firm before founding Management Arts in 1995. Contact her at DianaHo@ManagementArts.com or 310-475-6563.

Brian Oken has a 20 year track record as a successful President/CEO, having effectively guided organizations through aggressive revenue growth to sustained profitability. Throughout his career, he has been involved in managing, operating and strategically positioning companies in the public and private/family sectors. He is well known for improving the profitability of organizations while also creating great places to work. Prior to opening his own firm, Brian spent two decades running manufacturing and service based businesses as President and CEO. His accomplishments include significantly growing income and cash, being listed on the Inc. 500/5000 fastest growing company list, engaging in international strategic alliances and the launching of numerous successful new products. CEOs, Presidents and business owners call on Brian as a trusted advisor to help grow their companies, make better decisions with greater returns and create the highest performing workplace cultures. Brian can be reached at boken@informalcowboy.com or 310-466-2804.

Steven Phillips, Ph.D., Founder and CEO. In his relentless effort to deliver uncommon results, Dr. Steven L. Phillips has built an enviable reputation for his senior team consulting service that focuses on results-driven off-sites for senior leadership, strategic planning, and executive leadership. Dr. Phillips has helped thousands of individuals and organizations establish new levels of teamwork, transformation, and performance, all specifically targeted toward bottom-line results. Dr. Phillips has extensive experience as an Organization Development professional. For many years he served as a SVP Chief Talent Officer for a privately held 1B company with 10,000 employees. As a consultant, he has worked with Senior Executives at Microsoft, PepsiCo, Viacom, Mattel, Boeing, and many others, helping individuals, teams, and entire organizations successfully implement change. Steve also works one-on-one with Presidents and CEOs helping them strategize for powerful and successful leadership. Additionally, Dr. Phillips creates customized team development activities for executive teams designed specifically to shorten cycle time to high performance. Dr. Phillips’ best-selling books are used in corporations throughout the world. His latest book, The Senior Leadership Off-site Playbook, is soon to be released. Steven can be reached at sphillips@phillipsassociates.net or 310-456-3532.

Paul David Walker, Founder & CEO of Genius Stone Partners was part of building the first leadership firm to align Strategy, Structure and Culture, and has been a business leadership adviser to the CEO’s of Fortune 500 and midsize companies for over 25 years. He is the author of Unleashing Genius: Leading Yourself, Teams and Corporations, two other books, and will publish a new book called Invent Your Future. He has succeeded by unleashing the genius of the people around him and is known to be a visionary leader and master of collaboration. Paul can be reached at pauldavidwalker@geniusstone.com or 562-233-7861.

 

Inspiration and Techniques for Building Championship-Level Performance
Lighthouse clients have one thing in common – all are committed to boosting the performance of their organizations. So, we are pleased to introduce our clients and friends to Boaz Rauchwerger — speaker, trainer, author and consultant.  We highly recommend Boaz to you. Ask him to deliver one of his inspirational programs at your next executive retreat or strategic planning session.

One of our favorite Boaz programs is “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”. It helps you build on the strengths of everyone’s individual differences. This program helps you discover five steps to get everyone to join the building crew and resign from the wrecking crew. This is a very powerful and inspirational program that receives rave reviews every time.

• Master five techniques to inspire others to perform like champions
• Six recognition techniques including the powerful “good finder” program
• Learn four ways that your team can gain a competitive advantage
• Identify the three prerequisites for maximizing the team’s results
• Learn the two forms of keeping a daily score so everyone wins

Who is Boaz?
Over a 30-year span, Boaz, author of The Tiberias Transformation – How To Change Your Life In Less Than 8 Minutes A Day, has conducted thousands of seminars internationally on goal setting and high achievement. He has taught over half a million people how to supercharge their lives, their careers and how to add Power to their goals. His innovative program, for individuals and corporations, is a simple and highly effective process for high achievement. He was voted Speaker of the Year by Vistage, an international organization of CEOs and business owners. How to contact Boaz – Want more information on Boaz’s Power Program, including “Playing Like a Championship Team Every Day”? Just click here and we’ll be in touch.

 

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

What Are You Listening For?

By Paul David Walker

As a leader, what you do not hear or misinterpret can be the difference between success and failure. As a sales person, or in relationships, the same is true. Listening to what people are actually saying is the starting point of every successful interaction. Not understanding what Listening1someone is saying is like giving someone directions to your office before you know their present location.

As a CEO Coach and business advisor, I have learned many lessons about listening. I am excited to share some of those with you today. After hearing the lessons, the most important thing for you to do is practice. So I will also provide some exercises to develop your listening skills.

Listening to Tell Your Story

I found that in sales situations I tended to listen only enough to start constructing my story, or sales pitch, in my mind. I would even start taking notes, outlining my response before the client had finished talking. Worse yet, I was deciding which of our standard programs I was going to pitch. I was an excellent leadership consultant, but my sales effectiveness was weak. After listening to my sales approach, my partner suggested a three-day sales and listening course.

One of the first “don’ts” was listening to tell your story, which they explained is the first mistake of all bad listeners. Typical stories were: listening to…

  1. Develop an answer … bingo!
  2. To be right about your view.
  3. To tell your story.
  4. To judge the speaker’s story.
  5. Thinking about something else.
  6. Thinking you already know.
  7. Thinking about your next meeting.

I was guilty of many of these bad habits. The fact that I was processing in my mind while the person was speaking prevented me from hearing their entire story, and so my responses were never on target. The lesson was: don’t think while you are doing intake.

Content is Only 7% of the Story

The meeting leader then asked: once you are not processing while you are doing intake, what are you listening for? If you are listening for content only, then you are missing most of the message. Studies have shown that only seven percent of the message is in the words or content. Thirty-three percent is in the vocal tone, and the balance is non- verbal’s.

In addition, people who are talking to you are struggling to communicate something they may not fully understand themselves. They may be repeating themselves to find just the right way to say something. So, in addition to not processing, I had to learn how to listen beyond words.

Connection and Rapport

I found that if you learn to intake the entire message, and listen beyond words, your level of rapport goes up dramatically. Most people do not listen well, and so when you do, you connect with people at a deep level and they feel heard. One of my clients said, “The main reason I work with you is because you hear me.”connection

In real estate there are three things that are important: location, location and location. In leadership, selling and life, the three most important things are: rapport, rapport and rapport. If you fall out of rapport and start telling your story, you won’t be heard and worse yet, you may be distrusted. No one likes to be sold to. Establish rapport and keep it before you present your story or service.

Integrative Presence

The instructor said that the simple summary of this course is that you have to be totally present while listening and you will naturally integrate everything. After three days of the course, I had a sales call with a CEO, so I decided to practice my new approach. When I walked into the office, since I was totally present, I could see both the CEO and the SVP of HR were in a bad mood. They said to me, “How are you doing?” I told them that I was stressed after driving in LA traffic. They laughed, expecting the standard “I am great answer.” They proceeded to tell me about the events that led to their lousy mood, and we laughed together. The CEO said in jest, “So we all agree that life is crap, at least today.” We were clearly in rapport.

I then introduced myself and asked him to tell me a little bit about his situation and why he had called. I then put all my thoughts away and I felt present as I listened to his story for about ten minutes. When he seemed to be finished, I asked if there was anything else? He went on for another five minutes, and then said, “How could you help us?”

I paused and then said, as my teacher had suggested, the first thing that came into my mind, which was a summary of what I had heard instead of my solution. He was visibly shaken and said, “I had not thought of that, but you are exactly right!” I had heard something he had not fully understood. He went on to tell the HR SVP to have me talk to all his staff. When I explained that I would have to charge him, he said, “You two work it out, but I want you to hear what my team has to say. I achieved rapport, “Integrative Presence,” and heard beyond his words.

That year I won the Sales Leader of the Year Award for our Leadership Consulting firm. The lesson here is that you do not have to consciously process your answers. If you do full intake, your brain is able to synthesize and say the right things.

There is No Substitute for Practice

Remember, your thoughts block your intake. The following is an exercise you can try with a friend. As you listen to a friend try to tell you something important to them, try the following:

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As you start to develop the habit of letting go of your thinking, you will notice a sense of integrative presence in yourself, as will others. You do not have to do anything but let go of your thinking. Integrative Presence is a natural state of mind that is interrupted by your thinking. Also, do not take this, or your thoughts, too seriously.

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include StarKist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Leadership: How to Listen To Your Inner Compass

By Paul David Walker

Cause and Effect Moves With or Without You

The flow of cause and effect move events, stimulate ideas, and drive consumer wants and needs because everything is connected. This flow has a powerful momentum, and moves like the multi-dimensional currents in a powerful river. This force moves forward with, or without, our conscious compassinvolvement. We are all connected to it even if we are not aware of our connection. The more we are consciously in sync with what I call “The Life Force,” the faster, more targeted and powerful are our actions. Like an athlete “In The Zone,” we accelerate our performance with grace and ease.

Imagine how difficult life would be if you are not aware of these flows. Many of us are not. It would be like hiking through a wilderness fog without a compass. Even if you knew you needed to go North, you could not tell which way it is. Likewise, we need an “Inner Compass” to navigate within the flows of cause and effect that influence every moment of our lives, a way to understand where we are, and where the flow of history is going. But what is, and what is the practical use of, our inner compass? A story best illustrates.

What Is Your Inner Compass?

When I was working as a leadership consultant to Don Ross, Chairman and CEO of New York Life, during the summer of 1987, many people were coming to me questioning the Chairman’s actions. He had asked the investment department to slowly move all investments out of the stock market into conservative investments. This frustrated his investment team because the stock market was at an all time high and their competitors were using “High Yield Bonds” and stocks to create gains much greater than New York Life’s. They wanted to play in the game, and Don Ross was telling them to step back.

Many came to me, as Don’s coach, to suggest I persuade him of the foolishness of his actions. I explained that I was his leadership coach and had little knowledge of the financial markets, but encouraged them to speak directly to Don. However, no matter how people pleaded, he would not change course. Several key players resigned and went to more “progressive” companies.

In October of 1987, while I was on site at New York Life, the market crashed. It was the biggest crash since the Great Depression. But New York Life had moved most of its investments out of the stock market and had not invested in any “High Yield Bonds,” known later as “Junk Bonds.” Don Ross was now considered a genius. The financial gain was enormous.

A week or so later, I asked Don how he knew to pull all of the company’s investments out of the stock market three months before the October 1987 crash. He said, “I just knew it couldn’t last.” Everyone in his world thought he was wrong, yet he had the wisdom and courage to do what he felt was right.

Knowing the Difference

When I pressed him to tell me more, he went on to explain that, as Chairman and CEO, he was continuously bombarded with “experts” trying to convince him of completely different lady on compassstrategic directions. Each had incredible credentials and a good story, yet each recommended different directions. The only tool he had to make the final decision was his instinct, or intuition. He said, “Whenever I have gone against my intuition, I have regretted it.”

Don Ross explained to me, “The key to wisdom is to know the difference between your wild hopes and fears and common sense, intuition or true wisdom.” They often seem the same, but they are not. There is a distinct difference in the feeling. One comes from the Ego and insecurity, and the other comes from Wisdom. Great leaders learn the difference and, given this knowledge, develop the courage to act quickly. Don had found ways to live in the present like an athlete “In The Zone,” but with an easier more sustainable feeling I call “Integrative Presence,” or at least he was able to find that state of mind when he needed insight. When I met with him over the years, he was often in the state of Integrative Presence. He was warm, yet seemed to be able to see through people. Insightful, yet he moved with grace and ease.

Courage To Act

All the great leaders I have worked with know how to achieve the state of Integrative Presence, even though they may not understand the nature of this state of mind. They have experienced being connected to something that supercharges their own knowledge. They speak reverently about this connection in private, but rarely talk about it to the press. It just seems too outside the norm for stockholders and the public. But knowing and connecting to wisdom through Integrative Presence is essential for leaders in business today. Markets move quickly, often with little warning, and the wise leader can feel the moving currents. At each moment, like a surfer, the conscious leaders are so present they take advantage of trends as they emerge.

Know How It Feels

When I have asked people to describe how they feel when they experience being “In The Zone” or Integrative Presence, they say things like: confident, at peace, exhilarated, wavy road peoplepowerful, graceful, and present. Some report a slow motion effect as time slows. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told how the five seconds he had to win the NBA championship with one shot seemed like five minutes. He felt relaxed, as if he had all the time in the world, yet he appeared to move like lightning to the rest of the world–the very definition of Integrative Presence. His creativity, within these few precious seconds, was nothing less than pure genius. He was integrating the skills he had learned over the years, his desire to make the shot, and the flow of the moment.

It Is A Natural State of Mind

As I have experienced and studied athletes in the zone or integrative presence. I have found that this state of mind, though not often reached, is a natural way of living. It seems we have lost touch with true presence overtime. Ironically, the art of getting into this state of mind is letting go of what we think we know. As you let go, this state of mind just takes over. You don’t need to train yourself to experience Integrative Presence, you merely need to “let go.” This state takes over your consciousness and supercharges your performance because it is in our nature to live this way.

Sports create highly charged environments. They are designed to bring out the best in people. But can this state be achieved outside this arena? Certainly, if these states of mind that seem to create super human results can be created in one area of life, they should be able to be created in others. While the environment is particularly right for this kind of performance in sports, it is not beyond or separate from this “real world” we all operate within.

The Present Is The Only Portal To The Future?

You might ask, “If you are in the present, “How do you create the future?” Here is my answer. Imagine the world is a dance floor and the rhythm and flow of the band is “The Life Force,” which infuses everything. The multidimensional flow of the band seems irresistible to some, yet others stand against the wall not knowing how to jump in, and many are not even aware of the dance. They have heard people talk about it, but can’t seem to hear or feel the flow of the music. Those who feel it deeply dance like gods and goddesses in the middle of the floor creating a vortex of energy and motion that draws new dancers into their circle.

The band, which represents “The Life Force,” naturally lures people onto the floor to dance in a rhythm and harmony that seems to come from outside them. Of those out on the floor, many dance out of rhythm most of the time, but have moments of grace. Others have a routine that they have worked out over the years which works for them, but only captures a small part of the rhythm. Some have a routine and experiment momentarily with new movements, but mostly go back to what they know. Those who feel the music deeply dance adding rhythms and counter rhythms and seem to be an extension of “The Life Force” that passes through the band.

Without knowing, many start to follow the waves of energy coming from the leaders and the overall quality of the dance improves. At some point in time, magic occurs. The beauty and energy of the lead dancers is so compelling that the band itself is drawn into the dance creating new rhythms and flows as the Life Force, the band, and the dancers join and create new realities.

Start With The Present Moment

“The Life Force” creates Life and Life influences “The Life Force,” just as the band creates the rhythm and flow and changes, because the lead dancers’ energy becomes dancingpart of the rhythm and flow. The only way to create the future is to engage, like the dancers, with the rhythm and flow of the present; and by doing so you become a co-creator. It is not about wishing and hoping as the popular book “The Secret” would suggest. The various rhythms and flows of business markets are subsets of the rhythm and flow of “The Life Force,” which animates everything. Both can be influenced in the manner just described. Great leaders have discovered and mastered this secret.

There Is No Substitute For Practice

The flow of market wants and needs is like the complex themes, harmonies, and rhythms in music. Your team must spend lots of time dancing with those rhythms to know how to influence the flow of the dance. Your team, products and services must dance first with the rhythm and flow of the present, then lead. There is no substitute for this kind of presence in your target market, and like dancing to a good band, or being in “The Zone” in sports, it is a blast! The energies of the market will feed you and your creativity will lead the flow of the market.

Your inner compass lets you know the difference between your thoughts about the flow of cause and effect, and the actual flow. We have to practice to know the difference between the feelings that come from our thoughts and ego and our natural wisdom. Knowing how to access our natural wisdom is the inner compass. Having this compass helps us walk with the wind of “The Life Force” at our backs and in our hearts.

Your Inner Compass & Hiringgear people

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC (www.lighthouseconsulting.com) and author of new book, Cracking the Business Code, creating a foundation for strong leadership requires the right people. Hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional information on hiring, please click here to see an article on this subject.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include Star Kist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Why Meditation Improves Performance

By Paul David Walker

As business leaders we need to have a clear picture of present reality in order to make effective decisions. Meditation is a practice designed to clear the mind of stress and distortion, and allow you to experience present reality.

Over time our minds become filled with thoughts and beliefs that were placed there both consciously and unconsciously. We have defined experiences and recorded them as wavy star peoplebeliefs. Thought patterns have developed over the years, some of which are helpful and others are not. We are bombarded with ideas, advertising and images from TV and movies that stick in our memories. These thoughts often circle in our minds causing fear and stress.

All these thoughts and beliefs were filtered by our mood at the time we experienced them. If we are in a good mood, we tend to record a more positive message; if we are in a bad mood, it will be more negative. When we recall this information it is also filtered by our mood at the moment of recall. The bottom line is our mind is full of highly distorted information that is often conflicting.

Meditation helps to clear the mind and leave room in our consciousness to experience the reality of the moment. The flow of cause and effect is highly complex and, in order to be successful business leaders, we need to be able to see present reality with a minimum of filtering from the thoughts and images filling our minds.

When working with teams of engineers, I enjoy asking if anyone has invented a successful time machine. Of course, they always say no. Then I ask, “So you are certain that no one can travel to the past and the future?” They laugh and agree. Therefore, there is no reality outside of the present moment. The future is a speculation, and the past is what we have recorded in our memory or in writing, which is, as I said earlier, highly distorted.

Yet how much of the time do most leaders spend traveling to the past and the future in their mind? I would suggest, too much. The best leaders realize that being able to live in the present moment is the secret to both personal power and strategic advantage. They learn to see through false realities and connect with true reality.

An Example from Sports

After watching Florence Joyner win the hundred meter dash, the TV interviewer showed a super slow motion playback of her run. She was about equal with the field through the middle of the run, and then she leaped out way ahead of the field to win the race. The interviewer played the run again, and just as she put distance between her and the field, the interviewer stopped the tape and pointed to the screen and asked, “What happens right here?” Florence answered, “I just let go.”

She stopped thinking about the race and slipped into what sports coaches call “The Zone” and, of course, her performance accelerated dramatically. She was integrating all her training with the reality of the present. Being able to find your way into “The Zone” is critical for success as an athlete. Some respond to pressure by “clutching” and thereby reducing performance, and others slip into “The Zone.” Michael Jordan was famous for performing better under pressure, as are many successful athletes. As a leader, is this true for you? When the pressure is on, do you call for the ball?

Integrative Presence

Sports coaches realize that if athletes think too much about the past and the future, they will miss the reality of what is happening in the present. The future extends from the present, not from the cognitive frameworks in your mind. Those who can let go of their thoughts will find it easier to integrate their actions with present reality. In business, I call key to weatherthis “Integrative Presence.”

If an athlete can create this state of mind, so can a leader. If these states of mind that seem to create super human results can be created in one area of life, they should be able to be created in others. While the environment is right for this kind of performance in sports, it is not beyond or separate from the business world. The most effective leaders have mastered Integrative Presence.

Integrative Presence unleashes genius in any endeavor. Integrative Presence, as I define it, is collaboration with the natural flow that extends from the present integrated with the knowledge, intention and consciousness of an individual or group. Integrative Presence allows you to integrate all the realities of the moment simultaneously while combining them with your intention. Those who master this will Unleash Genius within themselves, and the people who follow them, to create new realities once unimaginable.

Business is much more complex than sports, but the state of mind that creates Integrative Presence is as important for leaders as it is for athletes. The best leaders are able to achieve this state at will. In a board meeting or when closing an important deal, the best leaders can be in the present while integrating their knowledge and all the events that are happening around them simultaneously.

The truth is anything can cause your conscious mind to let go of comparative thought and find Integrative Presence. It would be impossible to catalog all experiences people have had. What is important is to know the difference between the two states of mind. Meditation is a practice that will help you find your personal road map into this powerful state.

eye of lifeWhen I have asked people to describe how they feel when they experience “Integrative Presence” they say things like: confident, at peace, exhilarated, powerful, graceful, focused and present. Some report a slow-motion effect. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told how the five seconds he had to win the NBA championship with one shot seemed like five minutes. He felt relaxed, as if he had all the time in the world, yet he appeared to move like lightning to the rest of the world–the very definition of “Integrative Presence.” His creativity, within these few precious seconds, was nothing less than pure genius. He was integrating the skills he had learned over the years, his desire to make the shot, and the flow of the moment, without interruption from his thoughts.

Most people have experienced this state of mind; the question is what percent of your life is spent in this state. The art of getting into this state of mind is letting go of thoughts and connecting with the flow of events in the moment. Meditation is practice for your mind and body. An athlete must practice their sport, a leader must practice disciplining their mind. Meditation is a time-tested form of practice.

There is no Substitute for Practice

As in sports, there is no substitute for practice. Knowing how to move from “normal thinking” into Integrative Presence comes from practice. Take time to connect with your peak experiences and observe how you transitioned yourself. Find ways to still your mental chatter and connect with the present, and you will become a much more effective leader and a happier person.

Meditation Technique

The following is a simple meditation technique that can help you clear your mind. It will help establish an inner road map to stillness, which allows you to flow with present reality.

1) The Right Environment: Find a quiet place and arrange to have no distractions or interruptions. A special place in your home or a place out in nature. It is especially important in the first stages of meditation to find a special place. It helps you move towards stillness naturally. Over time you will be able to meditate anywhere, at any time, even as you walk through hallways.

2) Sit Comfortably: You want your body to be at ease. Find a chair that is comfortable and sit up straight; be sure not to cross you arms or legs. Sitting up straight in a way that you will not have to move should one of your limbs fall asleep is important.

3) Three Deep Breaths: Take three deep breaths and hold the oxygen in as long as you can on each breath, and let the oxygen out suddenly once you can no longer hold the air.

4) Breathe Normally: Return to your normal breathing pattern. Close your eyes and put your attention on your breathing process. Follow your breath in and then out. Notice the rhythm and depth of each of your breaths. Spend 2-3 minutes just following your breath with your attention.

5) Imagine a Beautiful Place: Imagine yourself in a beautiful place in nature. Choose a favorite spot or create a spot that would be ideal for you. Each time you begin meditating come back to this place. It will serve as an anchor for peace and help you to relax each time. Once you have felt the peace of this place, use it as a background and return your attention to your breathing.

6) Let Go of Thoughts: As thoughts arise in your mind, do not resist them. Practice observing without processing, and then letting go of them. You can imagine them floating up happy jumping guyinto the sky or being absorbed by nature. As you let go return your attention to your breathing.

7) Deepen Your Breathing: Once you have found your natural rhythm increase the depth of your breathing. Inhale 10-15 percent deeper and exhale 10-15 percent deeper. Play with this deeper rhythm until it becomes natural. Continue to let go of thoughts as they arise.

8) Notice Stillness: Notice that at the moment you fully inhale, just before you exhale, there is a still point. Likewise, after you have fully exhaled, there is the same still point. One, the inhale, is full and the second, the exhale, is empty. Notice the difference.

9) Fall into Stillness: At times when your total focus is on this deeper breathing process, you will notice the stillness inside you. Let your consciousness fall into this stillness. Let go and don’t be afraid; it is your destination. Stay there as long as your ego will allow. It might take a number of sessions before you achieve this, but it is worth the practice and discipline.

10) Open Your Eyes: In about 20-25 minutes gently open your eyes without moving and notice the world around you. Notice your state of mind and journal your experience.

11) Take This State of Mind With You: Practice staying with this state of mind as you get up from your chair and walk, focusing on your breathing as before. Find a rhythm between your steps and your breath. Count how many breaths per step until you find a comfortable pace that is a little deeper than normal. This will help you begin to integrate this state of mind into your daily life.

12) Do Short Meditations: Once you have mastered this practice you will be able to take a few minutes to clear your mind between meetings or even with short pauses during meetings.

Meditation creates the same state of being that Florence Joyner and other athletes achieve when they are in “The Zone.” Your consciousness will deepen and widen and you will be able to perform more effectively. Remember, there is no substitute for practice.

As you continue to meditate, you will find the quality of your thought improving. You will have great ideas and find it easy to solve problems. Creating this space of stillness within you leads to Integrative Presence. Meditation is a powerful tool for those who are creating the future. It helps with idea generation and stress reduction. If you are a leader, you need both to be successful.

For more tips, please click here listen to our teleconference audio link.

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include Star Kist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Are You Lost in The Game of Life?

By Paul David Walker

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]H[/dropcaps]ave you ever wondered, “Is this as good as it gets?” Even though you are successful, does something seem missing? We buy new cars, homes, boats, clothes and jewels; but after a momentary thrill, that pointless empty feeling arises again.Find the cheese

We struggle to succeed, work all our life to be recognized and feel powerful or beautiful in the world, and often find that stress overwhelms our body and mind. We push through and reach our goals. Yet somehow, again after momentary thrills, we feel unsatisfied. Some pretend to be happy, not wanting to seem like a failure or disappoint their friends and family, but their face tells a different story.

I discovered years ago, while listening to a tape by George Pransky, that one of the reasons for this is that we have confused life with the game of life.

Life Itself

Eckhart Tolle said, “We are not living life, we are life.” Yet we seem to get lost in “The Game of Life.”

Life is moments of profound beauty. Life is looking into the eyes of a child, a moment by a river when everything seems to flow together, or when suddenly what seemed mundane now seems beautiful. It is moments of love where you feel deeply connected to someone, being “In The Zone,” or biting into a fresh sweet strawberry and responding with gratitude.

When we experience life itself, we feel peaceful and exhilarated at the same time. It is often a simple moment when what is coming up does not seem to matter, and yet you are fascinated with the arising of the next moment. When you can feel the love of a child or a parent, you are deeply living life. Its energy enters your being and you cannot help but smile with joy.

The Game of Life

The rules for the game of life are like the rules for tennis, basketball or baseball. They are not innate universal principles, like gravity, the need for water, sunlight to grow crops, and oxygen; we have just decided on them to create a game. In tennis inside the line is a point, outside the line is a point for the other person. Why? It is because we have decided. The rules change over time to improve the game. Likewise, each society in the world establishes rules to govern life within their countries. Each ethnic culture has developed norms of behavior. Like the rules of different games, they vary. If designed well, they will enhance life. But they are not life itself.

The River & The Game of Life

An example of this would be an ancient community that developed around a river that was fed by lakes in the high mountains. The community prospered, using irrigation to develop food production and trade. They developed a game of life that thrived off the river, and the innovations created by the game of life that evolved to meet the community’s needs. This is an example where the game of life was fed by life, which in this case was the river.

Biz winMany of these civilizations disappeared, because for one reason or the other, the springs in the lakes that fed the river could not support the growing demands of the civilization. The leaders became attached to their game, and did not notice the relationship of the game to the rivers ability to support the game of life that formed their civilization.

Likewise, an athlete who develops extraordinary physical skills playing a game has a deep level of enjoyment of life during play. However, many stay involved in a sport beyond their aging body’s ability to keep up with the game, some die and others are crippled. Why? It is because they have confused the game with life itself. They mistakenly assume that the game, not the life force, brought them the enjoyment.

When we lose touch with life itself, our ability to play in the game of life decreases, and like ancient river civilizations, the game of life can destroy our connection to life with terrible consequences.

While playing the game of life you may notice stress and difficulty increasing, yet because you are so attached to the game you cannot stop playing. You lose your connection to life itself and wither without knowing why.

Confusing Life & The Game of Life

The game of life we play in “Post Modern” society is much more complex than ancient civilizations or sports games. It is all pervasive. It seems to encompass the globe. We are part of a game that seems to have no boundaries. Most are not even aware that they are choosing to play a game. Many see the game as life itself, and this is where problems arise. In desperately holding onto the game of life, we lose touch with life. We become stressed, fatigued, depressed and angry. Something is missing. Our consciousness is focused on the game, rather than life, metaphorically, the springs that feed our life dry up, and then playing the game of life becomes more difficult. We lose contact with life, and hence, given “we are life,” we lose ourselves. We are lost in the game of life to the point of danger, and perhaps extinction.

Consciously Connecting With Life

In order to play the game of life well, we need to have practices that connect us with life itself. Without awareness that there is a difference between life and the game of life, it will be hard to take the time to drink from the natural springs that feed our life. So that is the first step to realize the difference.

The second step is to develop practices that help you let go of the game, and open your consciousness to the life giving energy of “The Life Force,” which is a multidimensional river beyond description. Meditation, walking in nature, yoga, listening to relaxing music, and many others similar practices can work. The key is to find ways to slow your thoughts about the game of life. As you do, life will naturally fill your consciousness and feed you, without which you will die, like a flower that is not watered, or a civilization whose river dries up.

There is No Substitute For Practicemeditation inspiration

Now you have an intellectual understanding of the difference between LIFE and “The Game of Life.” The thoughts shared here only point towards the experience of LIFE. In order to truly experience LIFE, you need to practice being present to LIFE. If you take time each day in a meditative practice, you will learn the difference. At first your head will be full of thoughts, but as you learn to let go of them, you will be conscious of LIFE instead of your thoughts about life. With practice, you will be able to be continuously conscious of LIFE every moment of the day. Your happiness will grow and what once seemed drab will be full of color.

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include Star Kist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Do You Worry?

By Paul David Walker

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]S[/dropcaps]tudies show that most things we worry about never happen. Is this because the worry prevents bad things from happening, or is it just a waste of energy? My first wife always said to me, “I have to worry for both of us.” If worry was an indicator of future events, worry would be more predictive than it seems to be. Certainly, people who worry a lot do not seem happy and often suffer from stress. But are they all saving us from tragedies with their collectiveglobe on man worries?

Can Worry Become A Death Spiral?

Worry is a pattern of circular thoughts focused on a particular event or possibility that makes us anxious. We believe that something might happen in the future, like losing our jobs, and we think about that possibility over and over again. These circular thoughts fill our consciousness and we feel more and more stressed. Our state of mind deteriorates and in some cases nervous breakdowns occur. What happens is our consciousness narrows to focus on a worry and filters out everything else, including pleasant sensations that come naturally with day to day living, like a beautiful morning. Additionally, since we seem to have a need to be right about our thinking, we actually begin to select things that prove our worries are justified. We become taken-up by a worry death spiral.

What Are We Missing Because of Worry?

Since our consciousness narrows and becomes invested in being right about our worries, we miss most everything else. We often fail to connect with the people in our lives who are most important to us. A beautiful day seems dark. As the pattern of worry sets in, even wonderful events in our lives bring on the feeling of impending doom, with thoughts like: this can’t last, this is the quiet before the storm, I don’t deserve this. We also are so focused on our worries that obvious solutions to our problems are overlooked as they appear. We go to work in a bad mood and people wonder what is wrong with us. Someone, maybe our boss, might start to become concerned about our attitude, which may lead to a layoff. Then our mind will say to us, “See you were right to worry, you just did not worry hard enough.”

How Can You Stop Worrying?

The first step in letting go of worry is realizing that thought at best is only an approximation of reality, and at worst can drive you crazy. As a poet, I often try to inspire people by describing the deep beauty of the world we live in, but even with my skill with words it is still just an approximation of the beauty I experience. For example:

reaching for starIt seems to me that there is a deep intelligence within the formless that expresses itself in form. You can call it: The Flow of Heaven, The Life Force, The Grace of God, Divine Intention, The Great Intelligence, The Great Spirit or Natural Intelligence.

This intelligence is continuously expressing itself in form. Everything we see around us has arisen from this intelligence: the trees, flowers, oceans, fishes and, yes, each of us as human beings. We are an expression of creation. This “Great Intelligence” is woven into every fiber of our being and drives life itself. It is always there within you and all around you. If you are consciously aware of this reality, your entire being shines from within and your thoughts are filled with joy and wonder. Collaborating with this intelligence, which literally pulsates within you, creates thoughts and actions that we call an expression of genius.

I can tell you that after years of practice as a writer, though these thoughts may inspire you, it is only an approximation of our perceptions. Realizing that thoughts are only an approximation of reality will change the way we deal with them. If thoughts, like the above, inspire you to higher levels of consciousness and happiness, then they are useful, yet only an approximation. If, like worry, they narrow our consciousness and create stress, then they are useless, if not harmful. Just like you naturally pull your hand from a flame when you feel the pain, learn to let go of thoughts that create psychological pain. As we move our consciousness from our thoughts, natural beauty and grace fills us. We don’t have to do anything but let go of our thoughts and we will begin to feel great. It is nature’s, or creation’s, way of directing us … and yes it is that simple! Try it… test it out for yourself.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014 This information contained in this article is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling.

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include Star Kist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Seven Imperatives To Inventing Your Company’s Future

By Paul David Walker – Excerpt from the book, Cracking the Business Code

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]W[/dropcaps]hile helping CEOs and executive teams at mid-sized and Fortune 500 companies throughout the years to align strategy, structure, and organizational culture, I have observed both great and unfit leaders and realized that leaders can literally invent the future of their companies and their lives. biz people with telescopeToday’s CEOs need teams with clear missions, a sense of urgency, the stillness of a master and explosive targeted actions. Like shooting rapids, there is a correct course in the currents of change; there are also those that will run you into rocks and those that will drown you and your company in the Business Industry.

Companies that succeed in today’s volatile business economy must conquer obstacles the way a championship basketball team does in a “FastBreak,” overcoming the insecurities that hold them back and responding instantly to the flow of the game of business.

Before leaders can accomplish anything, they must first understand themselves and the present reality, challenge their own thinking, communicate a well thought-out and concise strategic direction, and define a clear and actionable plan for execution. No matter how much research is done, a leader must make the final call. To make that call with confidence, a leader must know the answer or how to find the answer, and he or she must communicate clearly, simply, and concretely in a compelling manner. Only then will a team have the faith to follow and achieve the company’s objectives.

The following seven imperatives act as a roadmap for surpassing common business hurdles to achieve success and invent a well-designed future for your business or your life. These steps work for everything from building a porch on the front of your house to improving your life, creating a great company, or galvanizing a nation.

1. Knowing the Answer: The first step, of course, is to know the right answer. But more important, you have to know when you know the right answer in business or in life. It is not enough to say, after it is too late, “I knew that.” In any endeavor, there is a correct course to set. That course is based on the realities of the market, competitive analysis, and the true differentiation of the product, service, or team being evaluated. A leader must be fully present in the reality of the moment in order to succeed, rather than being attached to their thoughts and beliefs about that reality. The leader must know the difference between his ego’s hopes and fears and true reality. This involves a deep understanding of yourself and the flow of cause and effect. A leader must learn the art of “integrative presence,” which is like being “in the zone.” The future emerges from the present; the past is distorted by our beliefs, emotions, and the limits of our perceptual abilities. “Integrative presence” allows you to integrate the reality of the moment with your intention for the future; thus responding correctly to the flow of the game. Product cycles are shortening, business is becoming far more complex, and global competition requires speed and accuracy. Without the correct understanding of the present reality and how that it is emerging into the future, you cannot move with accuracy and speed. A leader must dance with the present while simultaneously carrying an intention for the future. As you do this, you know how to move.

2. Communicating a Clear, Compelling Picture of The Future State: You cannot create something you cannot conceive. Once a leader knows the answer or the right course, that leader must be able to conceive and communicate the opportunity and understand how the team can capture that opportunity. Until this team can see, feel, and hear the calling of grp of bizpeople on orangethe opportunity that present reality represents, they cannot truly follow. Without this clear picture, each team member will create his or her own picture of the future, causing friction and slowing the overall progress of the team. The leader’s presence and authentic commitment to the mission draws followers within the company and in the marketplace. The more clearly the picture of the future state is, the easier it is to create. Without a clear picture of the future in the mind of each leader, chaos will ensue.

3. Creating Total Commitment: After the team can see and feel the possibility of the future, their commitment grows.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness concerning all acts of initiative and creation.” — Goethe

First, the leader must be fully committed to the mission and then inspire the same level of commitment in those who follow. Part of being a leader is to challenge teams to face their fears and change their habits. What prevents them from committing is one of the greatest fears of mankind: the fear of the unknown. No one likes to walk into a dark room. As leader, you have to light the future with your vision. To move forward, you must paint a picture of a new reality to give your team confidence and keep them totally engaged. The clearer and more compelling this picture of the future state becomes, the more committed the team becomes. The same is true for the marketplace and your customers.

4. Acknowledging and Responding to Present Reality: Leaders who fall short of their goals have often skipped or distorted this step. No matter how committed a team is to a mission, having the wrong starting point can make plans useless. Knowing the good, the bad, and the ugly about any situation they’re facing allows the team to build plans that are targeted and effective. The challenge here is that people hate to be wrong, and they find ways to make reality comport with their beliefs. This is the problem with the belief in “positive thinking.” It often skips this step and moves too quickly to planning and action. Pessimists, because of their negative beliefs about life, give up at this step, feeling overwhelmed and hopeless. A plan that is not grounded in reality, no matter how clear and committed the team, will lead you over a cliff. If someone were to give you directions to Chicago and thought you were in Los Angeles, when in fact you were in Miami, you would become lost no matter how good the directions. A leader and his team must honestly face their weaknesses and misconceptions to invent the future. It is best to always come back to this imperative.

5. Developing Targeted Action Plans: Having passed through the first four steps, it becomes easier to create targeted plans, which provide a roadmap that enables teams to deliver focused execution. The problem here is often that when things are not going well, leaders change the mission instead of adjusting the action plans. This means that they did bizman walking to targetnot do the work in the first four steps. If you know and are committed to the mission, you will know to change the plan, not the mission. With the right plan, a team will surpass competitors while learning about themselves. Even at the final step, there may be obstacles, doubts, and fears to overcome. Be on guard for hesitation. A leader must not falter due to the team’s fears.

6. Having the Courage to Act Quickly: When you have all of the above steps in place, your fears are less likely to interfere—but they may still prevent you from implementing the plan. Courage to confront your fears and those of the team sets a true leader apart from someone who knows the answer but lacks the courage to act and lead. Once a leader knows the answer, that leader never gives up. With shortening product cycles and limited capital, leaders must first define the markets, enter them, and create excitement. With targeted actions that everyone believes in, the leader forms FastBreak Action Teams that are infused with clarity and confidence to reach the new reality. With good marketing and branding, the marketplace will have the same courage.

7. The Stillness of a Master: In martial arts matches, it is said that a master watching a match can tell who will win as the competitors bow to each other before the match. It is the one who has the most stillness, or the most presence. In moments of stillness, the motion around you slows and you can see, feel, and understand the right course of action. With training, your body will respond. The same kind of stillness is needed as you navigate the whitewater rapids of business and the flow of cause and effect that is challenging your business. Take time to be still and reflect. As in martial arts, presence and balance are important. You must balance all these imperatives.

know the answer flowctOf course this is all easier said than done, but if a leader can take the time to follow through each of these steps, he or she can take full control of the future. Fears and doubts arise during each step; a leader must work to mitigate those fears with possibilities and a compelling picture of the future state with his or her role model.

After the Nazis had rolled over Europe, destroying great armies and cities and killing millions of people, Winston Churchill saw his army defeated at Dunkirk, his air force in tatters, and U-boats sinking his navy and blocking supply lanes. He still had the courage to say, “We will never surrender.” He said this with full knowledge that he and his family would be tortured and killed, should Hitler win. Addressing his divided government and the nation in 1940, two years before the USA joined the fight, he painted a clear and compelling picture of the mission while acknowledging reality.

“… I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: ‘I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat.’

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, ‘Come then, let us go forward together with our united strength.’

Worthwhile business missions are not this dramatic or important, but the courage and clarity represented in this moment in history is a great model for any leader. Practicing the imperatives above will make teams stronger, more confident, and more effective to enhance their companies’ performance in the marketplace. Though business leaders are not at the vortex of history, as Winston Churchill was, each leader who invents new realities in business grows the wealth of the company, the people within it, and the communities they touch.

Don’t believe me. Look back on the successes in your life and see how these imperatives drove your success. Ask yourself which of these are missing from your leadership and your organization.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include StarKist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service, and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, 360s, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. Other areas of expertise: Executive on boarding for success, leadership training for the 21st century, exploring global options for expanding your business, sales and customer service training and operational productivity improvement.

To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Prepare Now To Lead The Way Into 2014

By Paul David Walker

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]S[/dropcaps]pring time is upon us and it is time for house cleaning and planning. Many of you are familiar with the economists, Alan and Brian Beaulieu and how their economic forecasting helped in preparing for the last recession as well as for the financial impact that it had on most companies and individuals. They have presented another opportunity for us to be aware of in the coming future. They are projecting that sometime between the later part of 2013, we will be heading into another connect dotsmuch milder recession that will continue through 2014.

Leadership – Take Market Share Now

During economic changes, relationship is more important than ever, because it is relationships that will hold you, your customers and vendors together.

Together, you can increase market share. If you, your customers, and vendors survive and / or thrive during weak demand, you will rise together as demand increases, which it always does. Here is how you do this.

Recession Value Proposition

Adjust your value proposition to fit the new economic circumstances, and train all people who interact with customers to implant this in the minds of customers. For those of you who are in the B to B space, at some point in time your customer will be in a meeting with corporate leaders asking, “What vendors can you eliminate? How can we reduce our costs and be more appealing to our customers?” At that time you want the voice in the back of your customer’s head to be saying that your company is a keeper for the reasons you have implanted. Likewise, if you sell to the consumer, you want the consumer thinking that your products will help them live better in this economy. The consumer advertising, packaging and PR should be positioning your brand as the answer. Your new value proposition should to targeted and ever present.

One of my B to B customers mission is to provide “Engineered Solutions” that improve the efficiency of their client’s factories. They explain, “We will work with flexibility and expertise.” They are making sure all their customers have this on the top of their minds. Another client, who sells to consumers, vision statement is: “Better Products … Better Life.” They are sure their advertising drives home how their products provide twice the value at lower prices. They are working on getting this message into the scripts of their customer service teams around the world. The most successful businesses during a recession implant their new value proposition at every contact with customers. This makes the relationship strong, and creates hesitation before a customer changes brands. That relationship will benefit all as the tide rises.

Extend Your Team

supportMake it clear to your vendors and customers, that we are all in the same boat floating on a low tide of demand, and that we must work together for mutual success. Continuously reach out to customers to understand their changing needs and wants and make temporary deals with the customers and vendors that will carry all through changing economic dynamics. If your customer needs a price break, ask your vendors to reduce their prices. If they need to reduce their inventories, get your vendors to help you create just-in-time inventory programs. Find out what your customers and vendors need to help their business prosper, and have the flexibility to change your products or services to fit. Do not get stuck in business as usual. Business as usual will be a death sentence. Build a community of strong relationships with your customers and vendors.

Talk about your mutual missions and synchronize them so all can succeed during economic change. Make it clear to all that you and your company are committed to mutual success. Let them see and feel your commitment to mutual success.

Attack Weak Competitors

As your competitors fail to adapt to the changes in the wants and needs of the market place, their customers will be moving. Be sure they move to you. Conduct research to determine your competitor’s weaknesses and focus on acquiring their customers, who will be frustrated with those weaknesses. If your value proposition is right, and being communicated in the market place at every point of contact, they will come to you. The most venerable competitors have the following weaknesses:

  1. Overextended credit
  2. Old technology
  3. Cash flow problems
  4. Poor customer service
  5. Inability to adjust prices
  6. Lack of flexibility

Once you understand the nature of the weaknesses of your competitors, select the three weakest and develop a strategy to acquire their customers.

Position yourself as the life raft for the customers tied to a sinking ship. People in corporations tend to change at a slower rate than people in the market. Be ahead of the wave of change and find competitors who are not.

Business has always been driven by relationship and trust. During high demand it may not be as important because of the lack of supply for surging demand.

During economic and social change when demand is falling, relationship and trust are even more important.

If you have ridden the wave of demand, maximized your profits and weakened your relationships, it is past time to change, but never too late. Do not hesitate, find and communicate the correct value proposition for your business, extend your team to include customers and vendors, and rescue customers from the sinking ships of your competitors.

Final Thoughts

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC  and author of Cracking the Personality Code (www.lighthouseconsulting.com), hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional information on raising the hiring bar, please click here to see an article on this subject.

In our blog, we are sharing more specific ideas in these various areas. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact any of our consultants. Also, if you have additional topics that you’d like us to address either in our Keeping On Track publications or Open Line monthly web conferences, please let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

Paul David Walker is a Senior LCS Consultant and one of the few CEO coaches who has worked with numerous Fortune 500 CEOs and their key staff members for over 25 years along with many mid-cap organizations. Some of the organizations that Paul has worked with include StarKist Foods, Von’s Grocery Stores, New York Life, Anne Klein, Rockwell International countless manufacturing, global utilities, service and consulting organizations. Paul is the founder of Genius Stone Partners, and works with domestic and international companies to improve their bottom line today and planning for the future. Paul is the author of the best selling book, Unleashing Genius and his new book, Invent Your Future – 7 Imperatives for a 21st Century. You can reach Paul at Paul@lighthouseconsulting.com.

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com and our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, workshops and executive and employee coaching. To order our books, “Cracking the Personality Code” and “Cracking the Business Code”, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

 

Planning For The Upcoming Recession!

By Larry Cassidy, Ted Margison, Paul David Walker

[dropcaps type=”circle” color=”” background=””]S[/dropcaps]pring time is upon us and it is time for house cleaning and planning. Many of you are familiar with the economists, Alan and Brian Beaulieu and how their economic forecasting helped in preparing for the last recession as well as for the financial impact that it had on most companies and individuals. They have presented another opportunity for us to be aware of in the coming future. They are projecting that sometime between the later part of 2013, we will be heading into another much milder recession that will continue through 2014.

We thought that we’d share some ideas from our Lighthouse Consulting team, so that you and your organization can begin to prepare and take advantage of the opportunities that could be just around the corner. We’re going to focus in on management, leadership and operations:

Management – Larry Cassidy

I would start with the following caution: whenever times get even a little better, it is an invitation for overhead creep. Put another way, a little bit of success invites a lot of overhead.man looking at maps Given that truth, and the fact that many businesses have experienced at least somewhat better times, it is likely time to grab the pruning shears.

  1. First, I suggest this process: go through every expense on your P&L, and ask the following questions: “Does this expense truly touch our customer and/or make his/her experience better? If not, is it at least critical to our future success?” Prune any expense which does not meet one or both tests.
  2. Second, take a stethoscope to your balance sheet. Get rid of bad inventory (it is rarely a “too much” thing, usually a “wrong stuff” thing). Your first loss is your best loss. Move it! Then get on and stay on your receivables. Both need to come down and cash needs to go up.
  3. Third, be sure you have top people in key positions. You will ask more out of the team in tougher times, so be sure you have quality and you trust the players. Then have the team cross-train all hands. Every employee should be able to do at least one back-up job adequately. This creates flexibility and can reduce headcount.
  4. Finally, make sure your critical systems are operating smoothly. The last thing you will want to do is have to plug “holes” with bodies.

Leadership – Paul David Walker

Take Market Share Now

hands holding up bizpeopleDuring a recession relationship is more important than ever, because it is relationships that will hold you, your customers and vendors together.

Together, during a recession, you can increase market share easier than increasing profits. If you, your customers, and vendors survive and / or thrive during weak demand, you will rise together as demand increases, which it always does. Here is how you do this.

Recession Value Proposition

Adjust your value proposition to fit the new economic circumstances, and train all people who interact with customers to implant this in the minds of customers. For those of you who are in the B to B space, at some point in time your customer will be in a meeting with corporate leaders asking, “What vendors can you eliminate? How can we reduce our costs and be more appealing to our customers?” At that time you want the voice in the back of your customer’s head to be saying that your company is a keeper for the reasons you have implanted. Likewise, if you sell to the consumer, you want the consumer thinking that your products will help them live better in this economy. The consumer advertising, packaging and PR should be positioning your brand as the answer. Your new value proposition should to targeted and ever present.

One of my B to B customers mission is to provide “Engineered Solutions” that improve the efficiency of their client’s factories. They explain, “We will work with flexibility and expertise.” They are making sure all their customers have this on the top of their minds. Another client, who sells to consumers, vision statement is: “Better Products … Better Life.” They are sure their advertising drives home how their products provide twice the value at lower prices. They are working on getting this message into the scripts of their customer service teams around the world. The most successful businesses during a recession implant their new value proposition at every contact with customers. This makes the relationship strong, and creates hesitation before a customer changes brands. That relationship will benefit all as the tide rises.

Extend Your Team

Make it clear to your vendors and customers, that we are all in the same boat floating on a low tide of demand, and that we must work together for mutual success. Continuously reach out to customers to understand their changing needs and wants and make temporary deals with the customers and vendors that will carry all through changing economic dynamics. If your customer needs a price break, ask your vendors to reduce their prices. If they need to reduce their inventories, get your vendors to help you create just-in-time inventory programs. Find out what your customers and vendors need to help their business prosper, and have the flexibility to change your products or services to fit. Do not get stuck in business as usual. Business as usual will be a death sentence. Build a community of strong relationships with your customers and vendors.

Talk about your mutual missions and synchronize them so all can succeed during economic change. Make it clear to all that you and your company are committed to mutual success. Let them see and feel your commitment to mutual success.

Attack Weak Competitors

As your competitors fail to adapt to the changes in the wants and needs of the market place, their customers will be moving. Be sure they move to you. Conduct research to determine your competitor’s weaknesses and focus on acquiring their customers, who will be frustrated with those weaknesses. If your value proposition is right, and being communicated in the market place at every point of contact, they will come to you. The most venerable competitors have the following weaknesses:

  1. Overextended credit
  2. Old technology
  3. Cash flow problems
  4. Poor customer service
  5. Inability to adjust prices
  6. Lack of flexibility

Once you understand the nature of the weaknesses of your competitors, select the three weakest and develop a strategy to acquire their customers.

Position yourself as the life raft for the customers tied to a sinking ship. People in corporations tend to change at a slower rate than people in the market. Be ahead of the wave of change and find competitors who are not. Business has always been driven by relationship and trust. During high demand it may not be as important because of the lack of supply for surging demand.

During economic and social change when demand is falling, relationship and trust are even more important.

If you have ridden the wave of demand, maximized your profits and weakened your relationships, it is past time to change, but never too late. Do not hesitate, find and communicate the correct value proposition for your business, extend your team to include customers and vendors, and rescue customers from the sinking ships of your competitors.

Operations – Ted Margison

Interestingly, the key things a company should do in preparing for a downturn are often the same things they should do in preparing for an upturn.

  1. Streamline and standardize processes; you will need to be able to do more with less. Automate as much as possible in order to respond more quickly to changing bizpeople buildingdemands.
  2. Design processes for flexibility and adaptability. As customers change to accommodate changes in their marketplace the transaction size will often vary dramatically from what you have been used to. As well, new types of demand can arise as companies look for different ways to provide value to their customers, which might result in new types of demands for your business. You should be doing the same by looking for new types of opportunities.
  3. Understand the decision-making processes that drive demand for your product or services. Better visibility on what drives customer demand means better predictability for you. Do this with each of your key customers in particular. Then work with them to make sure you can respond to their changing needs in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Final Thoughts

According to Dana Borowka, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC www.lighthouseconsulting.com and author of Cracking the Personality Code, hiring the right people is key to future growth. If you would like additional information on raising the hiring bar, please click here to see an article on this subject: Cracking The Personality Code: Hire Right The First Time.

In our blog, we are sharing more specific ideas in these various areas. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact any of our consultants. Also, if you have additional topics that you’d like us to address either in our Keeping On Track publications or Open Line monthly web conferences, please let us know. We look forward to hearing from you.

Permission is needed from Lighthouse Consulting Services to reproduce any portion provided in this article. © 2014

If you would like additional information on this topic or others, please contact your Human Resources department or Lighthouse Consulting Services LLC, 3130 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 550, Santa Monica, CA 90403, (310) 453-6556, dana@lighthouseconsulting.com & our website: www.lighthouseconsulting.com.

Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, workshops, and executive & employee coaching. To order the books, Cracking the Personality Code and Cracking the Business Code, please go to www.lighthouseconsulting.com.