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Apple Business Strategy Illustrates Customer Friction

You know the power of the Apple brand. You’ve seen innovation that transformed how we work, live and communicate. What if the Apple business strategy requires an update? What if the current business strategy leads to a smaller yet still highly-profitable fan base? What if Apple’s closed strategy starts to get holes and customers start to test other approaches.
The article by Emily Ferron is bang on. See here: http://newatlas.com/apple-alienating-fans-disappointing-products-2017/47644/#_=_ And the challenges go deeper than these device issues. As a long-time Apple advocate who converted many, I’m now doubting the customer strategy of Apple.
Take music - I cannot share my own music in my house through Apple TV without buying Apple Music. Then when I buy Apple Music, I don’t have access to all my music on my devices without wifi. Yet the Amazon Fire allows me to plug into the back because it is more open and allows the user to add their music, movies and photos. Closed stifles customer innovation in my case. And I worked really hard to make it work. I can’t use my Apple Airport Extreme… my computer must be on… lots of customer unfriendly experience to protect the closed system.
Take Personal Assistants - Siri really struggles to understand me. Even simple and somewhat obvious requests because she is closed. I expect her to be able to do more and expect her to develop and get better. Yet Alexa has learned 2000+ new commands in 7 months because she is artificial intelligence and she integrates with the other aspects in my house. Alexa is open and learning. The users are shaping her and she is evolving.
Take TV - Apple TV is simple and elegant. Yet when I get an Amazon Fire I get literally 100x more options for search, apps, movies, music, expansion… open again wins. Plus Fire supports 4K. And Apple doesn’t - why - because Apple doesn’t. When you tell people that their netflix on AppleTV won’t play 4K on their new TV they don’t believe me… until they do. I was the same - shocked.
Take Virtual Reality - Apple’s not there. At all. Yes there are plans. And now worth buying a Samsung phone or HTC just to experience the past/current state of VR. I’m sure Apple’s solution will be great yet their strategy of nothing to everything may mean a lot of customers start leaving the closed solution. When you experience greener grass you wonder why Apple has not gone forward. Amazon is emerging as a real competitor in some ways.
Take notebooks. I drool with envy when others touch their screens. Its faster, better user interface is blocked from notebooks and computers. And Apple created that technology yet refuses to provide it to the world. Microsoft is gaining steam as many professionals no longer want to have to work on a tablet and a computer when they can have both. I’m seeing more and more MS Surfaces in our consultant and practitioner pools. I had to buy an MSI computer to run VR since Apple is now behind in graphic processing.
The strategy of closed worked for years for Apple. And now it is coming into question. I trust the Board and Executive Leadership Team are examining this closed strategy closely. Leakage of customers is happening. And brand advocate customers like me are experiencing the benefits of leaving the Apple universe. What happens if Apple continues to lock-down functionality desired by its customers to drive its strategy? What happens when Apple pushes even diehard fans to test and experiment with other providers.
I sucked it up on VR so I got an iPhone7S. I almost stepped out. Yet the camera really, really is amazing. The Apple TV vs Fire at 3x the price with 1/100th the capability opened the door. The shine is now off the Apple. I perhaps have been blinded by the light. The contrast makes me rethink what I’m buying. Yet I don’t like to pay and want more freedom so maybe I am not a target Apple customer.
Business strategy matters. Customer experience matters. Apple gets that. If we were working with the executive team or board, we’d want to perform an analysis of the friction points for customers. How many are because of Apple’s closed strategy? How could they be resolved? How much friction is there? When you search you find a lot of frustrated Apple lovers like me.
We’d want the leadership to understand that drag is a co-efficient. To say this simply, friction increases exponentially. And it may no longer be squared, it may be cubed or even greater when you add up the friction across all products.
What do you think about Apple’s closed strategy? What are your friction points? What are the benefits like virus/harm reduction? As a strategist, I LOVE to support others creating strategy and engaging leaders and their teams to implement strategy. Come on Apple - reduce friction! The heat hurts!

Get a Jump Start on the Year Ahead: 5 Principles for Brilliant Planning

Hoping that the Law of Attraction will kick in and manifest what you dream of having or doing just because you put it on a vision board doesn’t work.

Writing out a 5 page list of New Year’s resolutions often doesn’t cut it either.

Studies that show that only about 8% of people who actually create those resolutions ever accomplish them. Apparently, the majority of people actually never do much planning at all.

Many people find the world so fast-moving and unpredictable that it hardly seems to make any sense to have much of a plan, because life always seems to be throwing unexpected curve balls at you any way. Some people who consider themselves more creative or intuitive also chafe with the structure of having a “Plan”, preferring instead to be spontaneous and “in the moment” when opportunities or challenges present themselves in this journey called life.

Our attention and energy is pulled into so many different directions 24/7 in this crazy-busy world we live in now. It’s more important than ever before for each of us to identify what’s truly important in terms of our priorities and values. We need to bold and stick a stake in the ground to say what you stand for otherwise you risk feeling stretched to the breaking point and not able to live a life that of meaning on your own terms.

With these 5 principles to guide you, you’ll be able to do some brilliant planning of your own in a way that feels authentic and empowering to you!

  1. Make it Visual

Our brains are very wired to think in images. In fact, about 65% of the population are visual learners. Working with images and other visual cues is a great and easy way to tap into the power of both your left and right brain and access innovation and creativity in your thinking process. Working from a plan that relies primarily on text to convey how to get you where you want to go isn’t taking advantage of that natural affinity of the brain to connect to images.

When you’re doing planning for your business or your life, do what you can to bring some kind of visual component to it. Break out the colored sticky notes and markers. Doodle some images to represent your goals. Finding pictures from the internet or magazines helps to activate a deeper level of connection, energy and commitment to your vision and goals. I’ve created a visual template kit you can use to help you make your plans which you can download here. (HYPERLINK TO https://brilliancemastery.com/visual-template-kit)

  1. Zoom Out to Dream

It’s important to give yourself permission to dream. We spend most of our time and focus being very practical and functional. But when you’re planning, you need to be able to zoom out, get the highest perspective on your life and dream of what you would be most inspired and joyful to create for yourself. Create a picture of what your life or business would look like if you were living as your most expanded, brilliant and confident self.

When I am drawing out a visual map for a client as part of a strategic planning session, I often need to remind people that it is OK to dream. If you’re not willing to dream, you’re only ever going to be able to make incremental change.

If you immediately jump to “Well, how am I going to do that?” you break your creative flow. The dreaming process and the execution process are two different skills sets and two different kinds of energy. Just ask any writer who has tried to write and edit at the same time and they will confirm that experience!

  1. Zoom In to Plan

Once you have dreamed and articulated a vision or possibility that excites, inspires or even scares you just a bit, you’re then ready to zoom in to plan. Put on your strategic planner hat and give yourself full permission to ask the tactical and practical questions like “How can I do that?” or “When can this happen?” and “What experiences and skills have I learned that from my past that I can apply towards my future goals?” The need to harvest the wisdom of your past is central to the design of the Looking Back-Looking Ahead visual template that you can download here.

Your internal project manager can start to chunk down your vision into meaningful projects and time frames. Create some yardsticks for yourself so you can tell if you’re making progress or spinning your wheels and need to make some course correction.

  1. Be Willing to Test

It’s natural when you face a number of choices to want to have some kind of guarantee that things will work the way you hope. I need to remind my clients (and myself too!) that imperfect action is better than perfect inaction. You’ll never know what results you can create until you commit to taking action.

What can help break free of any kind of analysis paralysis when you’re setting your priorities in your plan is to be willing to test. Want to create a new program? Test it out on some beta clients so you can get some feedback and experience before you offer it out to your entire list. Want to develop more friends in the community? Test out having a weekly “connection time” blocked off in your calendar and see what results from that after a few months.

  1. Rinse, Repeat, Re-calibrate

A plan is always just a starting point. It’s meant to be a dynamic compass that you can use to help you keep on course.

Rinse and repeat what is working for you. Be willing to course correct and recalibrate your plan when you aren’t getting the results you want. Celebrate the fact that you’re getting feedback that tells you that your actions aren’t lining you up in the direction you want to be headed in order to reach your goals.

In the Looking Back-Looking Ahead visual template kit, you’ll be able to do all your planning on one single plan that you can use at New Year’s on any time you need to do some planning. You can complete it in less than 10 minutes, plus it comes with an instruction guide and video tutorial. To access your free copy, just click here: http://brilliancemastery.com/visual-template-kit. 

 

About the Author:

Carolyn Ellis is a visual facilitator, leadership trainer, Actionable Consultant and the founder of BrillianceMastery.com. She helps decision-makers and organizations accelerate their results by helping leaders improve engagement, clarify communication and strategic vision, access creativity, and develop high-performing teams. She’s delighted to be a part of the WILB community and says that “WILB is the one professional learning and networking conference I never miss – it’s fantastic!” You can learn more about Carolyn at www.BrillianceMastery.com. And see her live at the WILB (Women in Leadership and Business) Conference - April 15-17, 2018 at White Oaks Resort, Niagara on the Lake, ON.

How You Can Benefit from the Practice of Gratitude

Tired of Fixating on Bad News, Global Warming, or Wild Politics?

It’s a wild world out there, and with the bad news headlines front and center, it’s pretty easy to dwell on the negative. There’s good reason to be fearful, negative and stressed…and yet, there is overwhelming evidence that one simple practice can help us to deal with these issues on a personal level, and more importantly to increase happiness - the practice of gratitude.

I know…you’re too busy. But think again.  The benefits of cultivating an attitude of gratitude are very real and can be enjoyed with some simple choices to build it into your life in simple ways.  In its simplest form, gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging all that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything in it were a miracle, and being consciously aware of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the richness that is already present.

I have read about 40 studies on gratefulness, and the results are pretty impressive. By practicing gratefulness, here are just some of the benefits you can expect:

  • Better and more sleep, feeling more refreshed when you do wake
  • Less depressed
  • Feel more connected to others
  • Expressing gratitude increases goodwill toward others
  • Greater overall life satisfaction
  • Higher levels of optimism
  • More feelings of control in your life
  • Expressing your gratitude increases happiness by 4 – 19%. The impact is even greater if you are in a particularly rough place in your life – expect increases in happiness of up to 25%
  • Profound and positive effects on our health - People who kept a weekly log of things they were grateful had fewer health complaints, and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more
  • Overall better mood
  • Increase in cognitive functions like memory and problem solving
  • Higher marriage survival rates (Try the 5:1 Ratio – 5 positives for every negative in a relationship)
  • Schools report lower incidences of violence and misconduct and stronger academic performance

David Steindl-Rast shared this…“If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity and are willing to share.”

Grateful is not a “once in a while” thing, but rather a choice to live your life in a certain way. It’s about graceful living every day.

So enough about why…HOW do you fit it into your life? Try these three simple practices for 7 days – then check in. Pay attention to how you feel, and how others are responding to you. Observe how you handle people and situations. My guess is that you will see a difference…so then build on that. If you don’t notice anything then go back to being grumpy and wishing for more…see the difference then.

Here’s the gratitude makeover…

  1. Observe – When we rush through life, we don’t appreciate the incredible things that are around us – the sights, the smells, the laughter, the miracles. Stop and look around for 30-seconds at a time during the day. Instead of just rushing to the meeting a few minutes late – build in some white space so that you can walk to the meeting and notice the incredible architecture in the buildings, or look at the people on the way, say hello to someone who holds the door for you. Notice the little things that make your world a better place. Just deliberately observe for 30 seconds at a time, at least five times a day.
  2. Accept / Ask – Rather than getting upset about the money you don’t have, the resources that are stretched, or the house that is too small, flip it around. Accept that it is what it is. Ask what can you do with the money or resources that you do have. Embrace what is, rather than fixate on what isn’t.
  3. Act – Share with at least one person every day something that you appreciate about them. Make it genuine and meaningful to them and to you. Adopt the 5:1 Ratio – Say / Do five positive things for every one. And then keep a journal – I find that starting my day with 3 positive things helps me to stay focused on being grateful – starting with what I think when I look in the mirror in the morning. Choose gratitude.

Here’s a great video to get you started - An Experiment in Gratitude | The Science of Happiness. Just watching this video will give you a kick start.

Gratitude and thankfulness just feels good. It’s good for you and it’s a blessing for the people around you, so what are you waiting for? Share your results with us…we would love to share the good stuff as you are leading your grateful life.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

Build Gratitude into Your Business in 10 Simple Ways

Want Stronger Results? 

We have heard over and over that practicing gratitude is good for our health, our happiness and our overall life satisfaction…but there’s more. It’s even good for business. There are three things that cost leaders and business owners MORE time, stress, frustration and money than anything else – regardless of the type of business you have.

  1. Acquiring and keeping good people on your team
  2. Acquiring and keeping your best customers
  3. Reaching potential new customers

If we can find ways to help with these three things, then much of the rest takes care of itself. And with our schedules more packed than ever, and the eternal connectedness to all things technical, we seem to make less time to connect with people than ever before.  So these important things suffer.

Connecting with the people that matter for your business and sharing a moment of gratitude can make the critical difference in their support and loyalty. So lets’ start there. Here are 10 things you can do today to express gratitude to those that have stood by you through thick and thin, when business was good and bad, the ones you rely on to get the job done time and time again.

  1. Tell at least one employee or team member at work each day that you are grateful for what they do, and most importantly the impact they have. Making the time to do this personally and genuinely says almost more than the words.
  2. Let your employees know that you value their insights or contributions by asking them to share their story, tips, methods, ideas etc. with others. This can be done informally at a team huddle or scrum, or formally at a team or employee meeting. You are basically letting them know that you value what they offer.
  3. Book a one-on-one lunch or coffee time with EACH employee on your team at a different time – not when something is wrong, but just because. Time is an incredible gift, and time together lets them know that you value them. This is gratitude in action.
  4. Send a birthday card with a personal note in it to ALL of your employees. Our president did this in one organization, and I made sure that she had personal information about each employee to include in the card. It was a simple act that had tremendous impact.
  5. Call a small group of customers personally and tell them how much you appreciate that they have chosen you. I know you are busy, and this is a time commitment…that’s precisely why they will appreciate it. Even if you get voice mail – leave the short voice mail. How surprised will they be when they hear that you are NOT asking for more business, promoting an event or a product launch but simply saying thank you. You will stand out.
  6. Reach out to your most difficult customers who have offered feedback or suggestions about how to grow or improve your business. Thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts and suggestions, and share with them the changes you have made as a result. Most customers don’t voice their suggestions – they simply walk away. These customers have given you a gift. Appreciate it.
  7. Send a personal thank you note to customers who have referred your services to others. This is golden and you want to cherish their advocacy and championing.
  8. Include an unexpected surprise with every order like a book, an article, an offer for something more, or even just a thank you letter with a picture of your team.
  9. Give something to potential new customers to express your gratitude – an article, an idea, an opportunity to experience your services, or a meet and greet – with NO expectations in mind. No hard sell, no soft sell – just focus on doing what you do best and GIVE. Be grateful that they are sharing their time and attention with you.
  10. Connect your prospects to others in your network that can help them. Be inspired by what they are working on and help them further their cause.

Bonus…

I know I said 10 things…here is one bonus with a direct line to helping your business. Be thankful to friends and family who have stood by you working long hours, through good days and bad…have listened, encouraged, and shaped along the way. Surprise them by taking some time off work to do something just with and for them – something that is important to them. And let them know that they are important to you. Without them – none of the rest matters, so take care of those closest to you.

Have a grateful day!

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

Lead the Endurance

You’re looking for a way to engage your leaders. You want them to explore how they lead, not talk about leadership. You want an experience where they identify new leadership behaviors for themselves. You want them to explore practices to ensure their teams and results thrive. You want them to lead differently.
Read More

Stress Test For Your Leadership Team

Stress. Leaders experience more stress than ever before. Your leaders waste time because they delay confronting stressful situations head on and instead focus on the stress they feel. Where does that get them? No further ahead…

You rarely get to see how your leaders handle situations that are stressful because you are not likely in the room when “it” hits the fan. You just see the outcome.

So instead, invest in a practical way to see how they perform in a situation that mimics real life in a time-pressured, team based challenge. Participants in Learn2 Save the Titanic™ experience real leadership in a high-pressure situation — the ultimate stress test for your leadership team. Participants determine how they will achieve results, and each team has complete freedom of choice in each action they take. So they get to see the impact of their choices in real time.

We structure the environment so participants deal with stress and continue to create a number of innovative solutions in a short period of time - even with the stress. The result is that they quickly figure it out. Their communication, their openness to ideas and their willingness to take risks are called to task as participants face their own performance head on. And because it is a simulation with a “role” they are playing, they are free to come up with the solutions without constraints of their regular way of working. This gives them, and you, the freedom to challenge, practice and discover alternative ways of communicating, leading and creating team - to cross over that line and get different results.

During the experience, your leaders will go from being cautious, polite and organized into experiencing everything required to create a high-performance team. So we can talk about leading under stress, or we can just do it and learn from it. Stop investing in training that doesn’t test their leadership skills…improve the ROI from your development dollars by investing in the ultimate stress test for your leaders. Join us on the Titanic and maybe this time it won’t sink!

When you are ready to talk about keeping your team afloat, we are here for you, with enough lifeboats in hand.

Get our downloadable version here

5 Great Questions Great Leader Asks Their Team

What makes one company more successful than another? Better products, services, strategies, or technologies? While all of these contribute to superior performance, all of them can also be copied over time. The one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage – and therefore ROI, company value and long-term strength – is the people who are the company. And when it comes to people, research has shown, time and again, that employees who are engaged significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged. In the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, engaged employees are the ultimate goal.

As leaders we can be tempted to share our wisdom and solve things for people – too often, and too quickly. When we do, we don’t allow others to grow, to develop, to come up with a brilliant idea…so pretty soon, they just don’t try any more. So rather than solve the issue for them, ask questions to get the team engaged in problem solving. The answers become conversations about things that are important or meaningful. Conversations are more likely to turn to action.

Here are some of the questions that can help you get started.

1. What do you think?
Instead of offering our answer first, get them thinking, talking and sharing. Hold back, no matter how tempting to share your solution. And when they start talking, just listen and maybe ask a probing question, like “What else?” No judgment, no qualifying, and no hi-jacking…let them explore with your help.
2. What would you do?
Asking this question encourages leadership thinking and ownership – at all levels of the company. Again, follow up with good probing questions to keep listening.
3. What’s the real challenge here for you?
The key here is the word “real”. When you ask about challenges, you may open the flood gates…help them focus on the real challenge so that they can begin to find their way out.
4. Where are you stuck?
Sometimes we just need a push…we may need to admit that we are stuck so that we open ourselves to ideas and new perspectives. Asking this question gives us permission to admit we are stuck so that we can move forward.
5. How can I help?
When your employee gets stuck and focuses there, they may become frustrated and disengaged… Asking this gives hope that they are not alone, and can be the relief they need to move forward. Go through the other questions first though…there is a reason this one is last.

Learn2 works with leaders to help them develop and implement strategies to engage their teams to get great results. Work with one of our Culture Specialists to help you implement lasting change in your team.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

Download the questions here

Top 10 Leadership Development Activities for Managers

Getting to the top of the corporate ladder requires personal and professional growth.  Growth happens quickly with targeted leadership development activities. Leader growth may not simply happen magically over time. Dedication, commitment and ongoing leader skill development are the cornerstones of any leadership position.

Of course, it does help to get a little boost from a team of professionals who really know their stuff. Learn2 is a company that focuses on growing leaders. Leadership training is simply what they do best.Read More

Blog Fulllwidth

Apple Business Strategy Illustrates Customer Friction

You know the power of the Apple brand. You’ve seen innovation that transformed how we work, live and communicate. What if the Apple business strategy requires an update? What if the current business strategy leads to a smaller yet still highly-profitable fan base? What if Apple’s closed strategy starts to get holes and customers start to test other approaches.
The article by Emily Ferron is bang on. See here: http://newatlas.com/apple-alienating-fans-disappointing-products-2017/47644/#_=_ And the challenges go deeper than these device issues. As a long-time Apple advocate who converted many, I’m now doubting the customer strategy of Apple.
Take music - I cannot share my own music in my house through Apple TV without buying Apple Music. Then when I buy Apple Music, I don’t have access to all my music on my devices without wifi. Yet the Amazon Fire allows me to plug into the back because it is more open and allows the user to add their music, movies and photos. Closed stifles customer innovation in my case. And I worked really hard to make it work. I can’t use my Apple Airport Extreme… my computer must be on… lots of customer unfriendly experience to protect the closed system.
Take Personal Assistants - Siri really struggles to understand me. Even simple and somewhat obvious requests because she is closed. I expect her to be able to do more and expect her to develop and get better. Yet Alexa has learned 2000+ new commands in 7 months because she is artificial intelligence and she integrates with the other aspects in my house. Alexa is open and learning. The users are shaping her and she is evolving.
Take TV - Apple TV is simple and elegant. Yet when I get an Amazon Fire I get literally 100x more options for search, apps, movies, music, expansion… open again wins. Plus Fire supports 4K. And Apple doesn’t - why - because Apple doesn’t. When you tell people that their netflix on AppleTV won’t play 4K on their new TV they don’t believe me… until they do. I was the same - shocked.
Take Virtual Reality - Apple’s not there. At all. Yes there are plans. And now worth buying a Samsung phone or HTC just to experience the past/current state of VR. I’m sure Apple’s solution will be great yet their strategy of nothing to everything may mean a lot of customers start leaving the closed solution. When you experience greener grass you wonder why Apple has not gone forward. Amazon is emerging as a real competitor in some ways.
Take notebooks. I drool with envy when others touch their screens. Its faster, better user interface is blocked from notebooks and computers. And Apple created that technology yet refuses to provide it to the world. Microsoft is gaining steam as many professionals no longer want to have to work on a tablet and a computer when they can have both. I’m seeing more and more MS Surfaces in our consultant and practitioner pools. I had to buy an MSI computer to run VR since Apple is now behind in graphic processing.
The strategy of closed worked for years for Apple. And now it is coming into question. I trust the Board and Executive Leadership Team are examining this closed strategy closely. Leakage of customers is happening. And brand advocate customers like me are experiencing the benefits of leaving the Apple universe. What happens if Apple continues to lock-down functionality desired by its customers to drive its strategy? What happens when Apple pushes even diehard fans to test and experiment with other providers.
I sucked it up on VR so I got an iPhone7S. I almost stepped out. Yet the camera really, really is amazing. The Apple TV vs Fire at 3x the price with 1/100th the capability opened the door. The shine is now off the Apple. I perhaps have been blinded by the light. The contrast makes me rethink what I’m buying. Yet I don’t like to pay and want more freedom so maybe I am not a target Apple customer.
Business strategy matters. Customer experience matters. Apple gets that. If we were working with the executive team or board, we’d want to perform an analysis of the friction points for customers. How many are because of Apple’s closed strategy? How could they be resolved? How much friction is there? When you search you find a lot of frustrated Apple lovers like me.
We’d want the leadership to understand that drag is a co-efficient. To say this simply, friction increases exponentially. And it may no longer be squared, it may be cubed or even greater when you add up the friction across all products.
What do you think about Apple’s closed strategy? What are your friction points? What are the benefits like virus/harm reduction? As a strategist, I LOVE to support others creating strategy and engaging leaders and their teams to implement strategy. Come on Apple - reduce friction! The heat hurts!

Get a Jump Start on the Year Ahead: 5 Principles for Brilliant Planning

Get a Jump Start on the Year Ahead: 5 Principles for Brilliant Planning

Hoping that the Law of Attraction will kick in and manifest what you dream of having or doing just because you put it on a vision board doesn’t work.

Writing out a 5 page list of New Year’s resolutions often doesn’t cut it either.

Studies that show that only about 8% of people who actually create those resolutions ever accomplish them. Apparently, the majority of people actually never do much planning at all.

Many people find the world so fast-moving and unpredictable that it hardly seems to make any sense to have much of a plan, because life always seems to be throwing unexpected curve balls at you any way. Some people who consider themselves more creative or intuitive also chafe with the structure of having a “Plan”, preferring instead to be spontaneous and “in the moment” when opportunities or challenges present themselves in this journey called life.

Our attention and energy is pulled into so many different directions 24/7 in this crazy-busy world we live in now. It’s more important than ever before for each of us to identify what’s truly important in terms of our priorities and values. We need to bold and stick a stake in the ground to say what you stand for otherwise you risk feeling stretched to the breaking point and not able to live a life that of meaning on your own terms.

With these 5 principles to guide you, you’ll be able to do some brilliant planning of your own in a way that feels authentic and empowering to you!

  1. Make it Visual

Our brains are very wired to think in images. In fact, about 65% of the population are visual learners. Working with images and other visual cues is a great and easy way to tap into the power of both your left and right brain and access innovation and creativity in your thinking process. Working from a plan that relies primarily on text to convey how to get you where you want to go isn’t taking advantage of that natural affinity of the brain to connect to images.

When you’re doing planning for your business or your life, do what you can to bring some kind of visual component to it. Break out the colored sticky notes and markers. Doodle some images to represent your goals. Finding pictures from the internet or magazines helps to activate a deeper level of connection, energy and commitment to your vision and goals. I’ve created a visual template kit you can use to help you make your plans which you can download here. (HYPERLINK TO https://brilliancemastery.com/visual-template-kit)

  1. Zoom Out to Dream

It’s important to give yourself permission to dream. We spend most of our time and focus being very practical and functional. But when you’re planning, you need to be able to zoom out, get the highest perspective on your life and dream of what you would be most inspired and joyful to create for yourself. Create a picture of what your life or business would look like if you were living as your most expanded, brilliant and confident self.

When I am drawing out a visual map for a client as part of a strategic planning session, I often need to remind people that it is OK to dream. If you’re not willing to dream, you’re only ever going to be able to make incremental change.

If you immediately jump to “Well, how am I going to do that?” you break your creative flow. The dreaming process and the execution process are two different skills sets and two different kinds of energy. Just ask any writer who has tried to write and edit at the same time and they will confirm that experience!

  1. Zoom In to Plan

Once you have dreamed and articulated a vision or possibility that excites, inspires or even scares you just a bit, you’re then ready to zoom in to plan. Put on your strategic planner hat and give yourself full permission to ask the tactical and practical questions like “How can I do that?” or “When can this happen?” and “What experiences and skills have I learned that from my past that I can apply towards my future goals?” The need to harvest the wisdom of your past is central to the design of the Looking Back-Looking Ahead visual template that you can download here.

Your internal project manager can start to chunk down your vision into meaningful projects and time frames. Create some yardsticks for yourself so you can tell if you’re making progress or spinning your wheels and need to make some course correction.

  1. Be Willing to Test

It’s natural when you face a number of choices to want to have some kind of guarantee that things will work the way you hope. I need to remind my clients (and myself too!) that imperfect action is better than perfect inaction. You’ll never know what results you can create until you commit to taking action.

What can help break free of any kind of analysis paralysis when you’re setting your priorities in your plan is to be willing to test. Want to create a new program? Test it out on some beta clients so you can get some feedback and experience before you offer it out to your entire list. Want to develop more friends in the community? Test out having a weekly “connection time” blocked off in your calendar and see what results from that after a few months.

  1. Rinse, Repeat, Re-calibrate

A plan is always just a starting point. It’s meant to be a dynamic compass that you can use to help you keep on course.

Rinse and repeat what is working for you. Be willing to course correct and recalibrate your plan when you aren’t getting the results you want. Celebrate the fact that you’re getting feedback that tells you that your actions aren’t lining you up in the direction you want to be headed in order to reach your goals.

In the Looking Back-Looking Ahead visual template kit, you’ll be able to do all your planning on one single plan that you can use at New Year’s on any time you need to do some planning. You can complete it in less than 10 minutes, plus it comes with an instruction guide and video tutorial. To access your free copy, just click here: http://brilliancemastery.com/visual-template-kit. 

 

About the Author:

Carolyn Ellis is a visual facilitator, leadership trainer, Actionable Consultant and the founder of BrillianceMastery.com. She helps decision-makers and organizations accelerate their results by helping leaders improve engagement, clarify communication and strategic vision, access creativity, and develop high-performing teams. She’s delighted to be a part of the WILB community and says that “WILB is the one professional learning and networking conference I never miss – it’s fantastic!” You can learn more about Carolyn at www.BrillianceMastery.com. And see her live at the WILB (Women in Leadership and Business) Conference - April 15-17, 2018 at White Oaks Resort, Niagara on the Lake, ON.

How You Can Benefit from the Practice of Gratitude

How You Can Benefit from the Practice of Gratitude

Tired of Fixating on Bad News, Global Warming, or Wild Politics?

It’s a wild world out there, and with the bad news headlines front and center, it’s pretty easy to dwell on the negative. There’s good reason to be fearful, negative and stressed…and yet, there is overwhelming evidence that one simple practice can help us to deal with these issues on a personal level, and more importantly to increase happiness - the practice of gratitude.

I know…you’re too busy. But think again.  The benefits of cultivating an attitude of gratitude are very real and can be enjoyed with some simple choices to build it into your life in simple ways.  In its simplest form, gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging all that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything in it were a miracle, and being consciously aware of how much you’ve been given. Gratitude shifts your focus from what your life lacks to the richness that is already present.

I have read about 40 studies on gratefulness, and the results are pretty impressive. By practicing gratefulness, here are just some of the benefits you can expect:

  • Better and more sleep, feeling more refreshed when you do wake
  • Less depressed
  • Feel more connected to others
  • Expressing gratitude increases goodwill toward others
  • Greater overall life satisfaction
  • Higher levels of optimism
  • More feelings of control in your life
  • Expressing your gratitude increases happiness by 4 – 19%. The impact is even greater if you are in a particularly rough place in your life – expect increases in happiness of up to 25%
  • Profound and positive effects on our health - People who kept a weekly log of things they were grateful had fewer health complaints, and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more
  • Overall better mood
  • Increase in cognitive functions like memory and problem solving
  • Higher marriage survival rates (Try the 5:1 Ratio – 5 positives for every negative in a relationship)
  • Schools report lower incidences of violence and misconduct and stronger academic performance

David Steindl-Rast shared this…“If you’re grateful, you’re not fearful, and if you’re not fearful, you’re not violent. If you’re grateful, you act out of a sense of enough and not out of a sense of scarcity and are willing to share.”

Grateful is not a “once in a while” thing, but rather a choice to live your life in a certain way. It’s about graceful living every day.

So enough about why…HOW do you fit it into your life? Try these three simple practices for 7 days – then check in. Pay attention to how you feel, and how others are responding to you. Observe how you handle people and situations. My guess is that you will see a difference…so then build on that. If you don’t notice anything then go back to being grumpy and wishing for more…see the difference then.

Here’s the gratitude makeover…

  1. Observe – When we rush through life, we don’t appreciate the incredible things that are around us – the sights, the smells, the laughter, the miracles. Stop and look around for 30-seconds at a time during the day. Instead of just rushing to the meeting a few minutes late – build in some white space so that you can walk to the meeting and notice the incredible architecture in the buildings, or look at the people on the way, say hello to someone who holds the door for you. Notice the little things that make your world a better place. Just deliberately observe for 30 seconds at a time, at least five times a day.
  2. Accept / Ask – Rather than getting upset about the money you don’t have, the resources that are stretched, or the house that is too small, flip it around. Accept that it is what it is. Ask what can you do with the money or resources that you do have. Embrace what is, rather than fixate on what isn’t.
  3. Act – Share with at least one person every day something that you appreciate about them. Make it genuine and meaningful to them and to you. Adopt the 5:1 Ratio – Say / Do five positive things for every one. And then keep a journal – I find that starting my day with 3 positive things helps me to stay focused on being grateful – starting with what I think when I look in the mirror in the morning. Choose gratitude.

Here’s a great video to get you started - An Experiment in Gratitude | The Science of Happiness. Just watching this video will give you a kick start.

Gratitude and thankfulness just feels good. It’s good for you and it’s a blessing for the people around you, so what are you waiting for? Share your results with us…we would love to share the good stuff as you are leading your grateful life.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

Build Gratitude into Your Business in 10 Simple Ways

Build Gratitude into Your Business in 10 Simple Ways

Want Stronger Results? 

We have heard over and over that practicing gratitude is good for our health, our happiness and our overall life satisfaction…but there’s more. It’s even good for business. There are three things that cost leaders and business owners MORE time, stress, frustration and money than anything else – regardless of the type of business you have.

  1. Acquiring and keeping good people on your team
  2. Acquiring and keeping your best customers
  3. Reaching potential new customers

If we can find ways to help with these three things, then much of the rest takes care of itself. And with our schedules more packed than ever, and the eternal connectedness to all things technical, we seem to make less time to connect with people than ever before.  So these important things suffer.

Connecting with the people that matter for your business and sharing a moment of gratitude can make the critical difference in their support and loyalty. So lets’ start there. Here are 10 things you can do today to express gratitude to those that have stood by you through thick and thin, when business was good and bad, the ones you rely on to get the job done time and time again.

  1. Tell at least one employee or team member at work each day that you are grateful for what they do, and most importantly the impact they have. Making the time to do this personally and genuinely says almost more than the words.
  2. Let your employees know that you value their insights or contributions by asking them to share their story, tips, methods, ideas etc. with others. This can be done informally at a team huddle or scrum, or formally at a team or employee meeting. You are basically letting them know that you value what they offer.
  3. Book a one-on-one lunch or coffee time with EACH employee on your team at a different time – not when something is wrong, but just because. Time is an incredible gift, and time together lets them know that you value them. This is gratitude in action.
  4. Send a birthday card with a personal note in it to ALL of your employees. Our president did this in one organization, and I made sure that she had personal information about each employee to include in the card. It was a simple act that had tremendous impact.
  5. Call a small group of customers personally and tell them how much you appreciate that they have chosen you. I know you are busy, and this is a time commitment…that’s precisely why they will appreciate it. Even if you get voice mail – leave the short voice mail. How surprised will they be when they hear that you are NOT asking for more business, promoting an event or a product launch but simply saying thank you. You will stand out.
  6. Reach out to your most difficult customers who have offered feedback or suggestions about how to grow or improve your business. Thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts and suggestions, and share with them the changes you have made as a result. Most customers don’t voice their suggestions – they simply walk away. These customers have given you a gift. Appreciate it.
  7. Send a personal thank you note to customers who have referred your services to others. This is golden and you want to cherish their advocacy and championing.
  8. Include an unexpected surprise with every order like a book, an article, an offer for something more, or even just a thank you letter with a picture of your team.
  9. Give something to potential new customers to express your gratitude – an article, an idea, an opportunity to experience your services, or a meet and greet – with NO expectations in mind. No hard sell, no soft sell – just focus on doing what you do best and GIVE. Be grateful that they are sharing their time and attention with you.
  10. Connect your prospects to others in your network that can help them. Be inspired by what they are working on and help them further their cause.

Bonus…

I know I said 10 things…here is one bonus with a direct line to helping your business. Be thankful to friends and family who have stood by you working long hours, through good days and bad…have listened, encouraged, and shaped along the way. Surprise them by taking some time off work to do something just with and for them – something that is important to them. And let them know that they are important to you. Without them – none of the rest matters, so take care of those closest to you.

Have a grateful day!

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

Lead the Endurance

Lead the Endurance

You’re looking for a way to engage your leaders. You want them to explore how they lead, not talk about leadership. You want an experience where they identify new leadership behaviors for themselves. You want them to explore practices to ensure their teams and results thrive. You want them to lead differently.
Read More

Stress Test For Your Leadership Team

Stress. Leaders experience more stress than ever before. Your leaders waste time because they delay confronting stressful situations head on and instead focus on the stress they feel. Where does that get them? No further ahead…

You rarely get to see how your leaders handle situations that are stressful because you are not likely in the room when “it” hits the fan. You just see the outcome.

So instead, invest in a practical way to see how they perform in a situation that mimics real life in a time-pressured, team based challenge. Participants in Learn2 Save the Titanic™ experience real leadership in a high-pressure situation — the ultimate stress test for your leadership team. Participants determine how they will achieve results, and each team has complete freedom of choice in each action they take. So they get to see the impact of their choices in real time.

We structure the environment so participants deal with stress and continue to create a number of innovative solutions in a short period of time - even with the stress. The result is that they quickly figure it out. Their communication, their openness to ideas and their willingness to take risks are called to task as participants face their own performance head on. And because it is a simulation with a “role” they are playing, they are free to come up with the solutions without constraints of their regular way of working. This gives them, and you, the freedom to challenge, practice and discover alternative ways of communicating, leading and creating team - to cross over that line and get different results.

During the experience, your leaders will go from being cautious, polite and organized into experiencing everything required to create a high-performance team. So we can talk about leading under stress, or we can just do it and learn from it. Stop investing in training that doesn’t test their leadership skills…improve the ROI from your development dollars by investing in the ultimate stress test for your leaders. Join us on the Titanic and maybe this time it won’t sink!

When you are ready to talk about keeping your team afloat, we are here for you, with enough lifeboats in hand.

Get our downloadable version here

5 Great Questions Great Leader Asks Their Team

What makes one company more successful than another? Better products, services, strategies, or technologies? While all of these contribute to superior performance, all of them can also be copied over time. The one thing that creates sustainable competitive advantage – and therefore ROI, company value and long-term strength – is the people who are the company. And when it comes to people, research has shown, time and again, that employees who are engaged significantly outperform work groups that are not engaged. In the fight for competitive advantage where employees are the differentiator, engaged employees are the ultimate goal.

As leaders we can be tempted to share our wisdom and solve things for people – too often, and too quickly. When we do, we don’t allow others to grow, to develop, to come up with a brilliant idea…so pretty soon, they just don’t try any more. So rather than solve the issue for them, ask questions to get the team engaged in problem solving. The answers become conversations about things that are important or meaningful. Conversations are more likely to turn to action.

Here are some of the questions that can help you get started.

1. What do you think?
Instead of offering our answer first, get them thinking, talking and sharing. Hold back, no matter how tempting to share your solution. And when they start talking, just listen and maybe ask a probing question, like “What else?” No judgment, no qualifying, and no hi-jacking…let them explore with your help.
2. What would you do?
Asking this question encourages leadership thinking and ownership – at all levels of the company. Again, follow up with good probing questions to keep listening.
3. What’s the real challenge here for you?
The key here is the word “real”. When you ask about challenges, you may open the flood gates…help them focus on the real challenge so that they can begin to find their way out.
4. Where are you stuck?
Sometimes we just need a push…we may need to admit that we are stuck so that we open ourselves to ideas and new perspectives. Asking this question gives us permission to admit we are stuck so that we can move forward.
5. How can I help?
When your employee gets stuck and focuses there, they may become frustrated and disengaged… Asking this gives hope that they are not alone, and can be the relief they need to move forward. Go through the other questions first though…there is a reason this one is last.

Learn2 works with leaders to help them develop and implement strategies to engage their teams to get great results. Work with one of our Culture Specialists to help you implement lasting change in your team.

Author: Tammy Sweeney, VP Program Development, Learn2 & CEO, Women in Leadership and Business (WILB) Conference

Download the questions here

Top 10 Leadership Development Activities for Managers

Getting to the top of the corporate ladder requires personal and professional growth.  Growth happens quickly with targeted leadership development activities. Leader growth may not simply happen magically over time. Dedication, commitment and ongoing leader skill development are the cornerstones of any leadership position.

Of course, it does help to get a little boost from a team of professionals who really know their stuff. Learn2 is a company that focuses on growing leaders. Leadership training is simply what they do best.Read More

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