Urgent See, Important Do.

Urgent See, Important Do.

Focusing on the Urgent can keep you from reaching your fullest potential.

Once you have determined your goals for success, you must stay focused on the actions necessary to achieve it. However, the competing forces of The Urgent and The Important are vying for your time and energy.

The Urgent pulls you, as a leader, into the operation: to book one more load; to make the collection call; or, to find the next customer. The Urgent is tactical and task oriented.

The Important allows you to plan the resource deployment for proper execution: to evaluate the new technology options; to hire, train and set proper behavioral expectations; to strategize about the best alternatives to overcome the obstacles before you. The important is strategic and big picture oriented.

The Urgent is the aggregation of the activities that brought you to your current state. There is comfort in performing the tasks that are easily recognizable and can be checked off the list in the name of ‘accomplishment’. The Urgent requires skills and thinking that we already have. The Urgent doesn’t ask more of us, only our time and energy.

The Important requires steps into an unfamiliar area. It has high rewards, but it has uncertainty – that is, by its very nature, uncomfortable. The Important requires a different set of skills that stretch what we know into new areas. The Important asks more of us than we currently are aware that we possess.

The Urgent brings us the same or incrementally better results.

The Important accelerates us and allows for maximization of results.

Focusing your attention, time and energy on The Important over The Urgent allows you and your organization to be positioned for stronger growth and become more adaptive to the obstacles that invariably will be placed in your pathway to success.

The Serenity Prayer

The Serenity Prayer

Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can and the WISDOM to know the difference. – Reinhold Niebuhr

Two movies express the tenuous balance of these ideals: The Fisher King (dir. Terry Gilliam) and Good Will Hunting (dir. Gus Van Sant). The former is a narrative in accepting responsibility for one’s own actions and the latter is a narrative about when to accept and forgive. (note that both are rated R for explicit language, drug use and violent scenes)

Obstacles to success are omnipresent in our lives. How we deal with them is the measure of our leadership. We can place blame, accept blame and/or try to understand the narratives that led to the obstacle’s existence in the first place.

Regulatory changes, natural disasters and other such external forces are among the first group. These factors cannot be changed, but you can both prepare for them and work to mitigate their negative effects.
Competition, inefficiency and stagnation are factors that can be addressed and changed. By developing a proper culture and strategy within your organization, you can improve processes and accelerate growth to achieve the success that you envision.

As with the Serenity Prayer, your role as a leader is encapsulated by the wisdom to direct energy, focus and inspiration towards areas that can be properly and usefully affected. Do not expend energy railing against unstoppable forces and immovable objects. Focus your mental energies on the areas that can effectively change your situation for the better.

4 Key Takeaways From my Time at the WIT Accelerate! Conference

4 Key Takeaways From my Time at the WIT Accelerate! Conference

In contrast to the general societal shift towards diversity and inclusion, there seem to be more instances (or at least media identified instances) of continued segregation and compartmentalization. However, during the last three days in Kansas City, Inclusion and Opportunity reigned supreme. From the poignant Keynote addresses of Valerie Alexander to the quiet, yet passionate, wisdom of Ellen Voie, the focus on growth, empowerment and personal accountability spark excitement and proved welcoming to all.

1 Strength
The solidarity and expertise of the attendees, ranging from drivers to marketers, associates to executives, was tangible and pervasive. The often male-dominated industries encompassing transportation have such powerful resources in these amazing people who choose to draw upon the energies and networks of knowledge, expertise and leadership.

2 Wisdom
Experience and leadership affords a larger and longer view of the past, present and future. The continued growth of the conference exponentially increases the collective mindshare of the association to face the inherent challenges of gender bias and to present new engagement strategies that reduce friction and build coalitions for growth.

3 Compassion
The collective honesty and accountability for personal and professional CHOICE are keystones to self-discovery. It is inspiring to witness the ability to challenge oneself (and others) openly to find the truth and the pathway to change. The association and conference helps to reduce the obstacles that limit communication. It opens the door to becoming the sponsors and champions of each other.

4 Opportunity
Each attendee has made the conscious and intentional decision to improve themselves (and, by extension, their organizations) by tapping into the power of the association and the conference. The connections lead to new ideas, the ideas lead to new solutions, the solutions lead to greater success and growth through opportunity and open pathways.

Thank you to WIT for giving me the chance to experience the inspirational effect when a group of people, individually and together, make the CHOICE to be STRONG, to be WISE, to be COMPASSIONATE and to capture the value of OPPORTUNITY.

3… 2… 1… Context

3… 2… 1… Context

How to Build Loyal Customers with Impactful Communications

Impactful communication with customers and prospects requires the fulfillment of connection. Whether for a current customer – ‘how is this going to improve our situation?’ – or a prospect – ‘how is this solution better to make me change my provider?’ there has to be a clear understanding of their current situation. Without this understanding, communications (emails, marketing, etc.) are quickly discarded as irrelevant.
The creation of the target customer profile helps you to build communication around relevant themes that are tied to specific business needs that your company can solve. Too often, brokers will try to promote their suite of solutions to the entirety of the market in hopes of landing business – the spaghetti against the wall technique. Unfortunately, the efficiency of this method is low and expends too much time and energy for a worthwhile ROI.

By knowing the core needs and decision frameworks of a targeted customer profile, you can be very focused in your approach to communication of solutions. This will require research about target. Begin by understanding:
1) The language of their industry – acronyms and jargon
2) The differences in their processes and methods
3) Their equipment, lane and pricing needs
4) How they define success – and the role of transportation in that success
5) Their business mission/vision

Much of this information can be found on company websites and industry association materials.
All transportation is currently moving on another provider or providers. Your job is to cause the decision maker to enact a change in their current process. While you may be lucky and reach them just as another provider is failing, more often you encounter someone who is comfortable with the status quo. The cost to change (both economically and emotionally) has a certain value to them and your solution must equal or exceed that value.

To change, the decision maker must feel that your solution is:
1) Significantly simpler than their current option (saves them time); and/or
2) Significantly cheaper than their current options (saves them money); and/or
3) Significantly different than their current option (paradigm shift)

With a clear knowledge of what the customer wants/needs, you can tailor your communications to best address these areas and begin to develop credibility and rapport with the customers. When you can fit your solutions within their context of reality or begin to shift their reality to form a new context, they begin to see your company as a potential partner.

Microscope, Telescope and Mirror

Microscope, Telescope and Mirror

The cost of retaining a strong employee is significantly less than the costs associated with the recruiting, hiring and training a new employee. When did you last meet with your employees -on either a personal or professional level, just one on one? It could be a regular performance review or it could be a half hour away from the office to check in to make sure all the pistons are firing.

Trust, respect and integrity are built with connection and interest in others. Just as you do with inquiring about customer needs, make sure that you are addressing and solving the professional needs of the people in your organization – and that they are addressing the needs of the company.

Inquire about how the company and the work satisfies the development needs of each person – or how it might not be. Be clear about how the employee’s role and work meet the needs of the company. The more examples that you can provide, the more the person knows that you care about their efforts and accomplishments.

Talk about the things that would make life/work run more smoothly – new technologies, beer fridge, flexible schedules – and talk about the successes that need to occur to bring those ideas to fruition. It becomes a partnership.

In their book, Love ‘em or Lose ‘em, Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans surveyed 17,000 employees across multiple industries to understand the reasons why employees stay with an employer. The top 10 are:

1. Exciting work and challenge
2. Career growth, learning and development
3. Working with great people
4. Fair pay
5. Supportive management/good boss
6. Being recognized, valued and respected
7. Benefits
8. Meaningful work and making a difference
9. Pride in the organization, its mission and its products
10. Great work environment and culture

Pay and benefits, number 4 and 7 respectively, are the objective things you can establish for your company. The other eight are aspects of a vibrant and positive culture that are built over time, though the focused efforts of a caring leadership. They are the intrinsic motivators that drive employees further than any dollar or day off ever could.

Does your organization satisfy the needs of its people? Are they excited and challenged? Do they have a pathway and the tools to build their career ladder? Is the pay structure equitable to promote the right behaviors in the team?

Take the time to investigate with your people, dream with your people and have honest conversations with your people. Use this information to build the organization into a stronger, more flexible and desired company that is positioned to grow into the future.