Positive Paranoia: Is it possible that some things you believe about yourself may not be true?

June 1, 2011

As a professional speaker I was in the airport the other day getting ready to fly to Las Vegas. (I’m there more than Cher.) I was relaxing at the President’s Club, eating cheap cheese and old fruit with all my elite-status, high-mileage brethren. The gentleman who sat down beside me wore a baseball cap that read “NYC Police.” He proceeded to tell me he was an undercover cop, so I had to ask, “Then you only wear this hat on your days off?”

I think a great number of people have no idea how they appear to others. You could fill a large psychiatry office with all the books that have been written about how we perceive ourselves. But few books have any real impact in the area of how we are viewed by others. Taking a look at how others see us is not an easy thing to do. However, if we want to have enough personal influence to make all the communication skills and brilliant ideas we have succeed, willingness needs to raise its ugly head. For example, if you sit down to put on your rollerblades and your spouse calls out “Honey, please be careful,” it means you do not skate well! If people look at your artwork and say things like “Wow, you sure used a lot of paint!” or “This would look awesome in the garage,” it means you don’t have any talent.

Getting honest about who you really are to others is crucial to success. It’s a practice common among top businesspeople. In our 10-year survey of 5,000 top professionals, Wynn Solutions found that the most successful – the top 1% – had a realistic view of how others perceived them. This dose of realism serves them well because they can influence others only as far as those others will allow. So if the great self-portrait I’ve painted in my mind far exceeds the exhibit I’ve put on display to the public, I’ll struggle to convince anyone of my genius.

Believing in yourself is great, but you need others also to believe in you if you hope to motivate or lead people in the direction you want. It’s good to have confidence, and certainly self-esteem is important … but if I believed I was OK regardless of society’s opinions, I would be at the grocery store in my underwear.

We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that something’s true if we just believe strongly enough. I believe the speed limit on toll roads should be 100 mph. That’s slower than the no-speed-limit autobahn, so it seems fair to me. But the cop who pulled me over last week believed I should go to jail. So what I believe is often not only irrelevant; it’s illegal!

Is it possible that some things you believe about yourself may not be true? Can you ask a very close, give-it-to-you-straight friend how you come across to others? This may sound to some like an invitation to developing a slight case of paranoia. But spending your life obliviously unaware of what is preventing you from being seen as valuable is much worse. Being worried about not being OK makes you human and relevant. Showing up to the big board meeting in an ’80s dress with shoulder pads could make you (literally) history – especially if you are a man!


Leadership Success: Five BIG LEADERSHIP MISTAKES you may never see coming

August 10, 2010

The key to leadership is influence and the key to influence is making sure your people feel valuable.

  1. The seduction of power: Being the boss can cause some people to believe they are superior beings.  If you feel like you kind of own your people and they are lucky to be working for you, you have a problem. You may be power crazy if you refer to yourself in the 3rd person, you interrupt your employees in the middle of important business tasks to get them to do personal favors for you or people tend to bow and clasp their hands when they ask you questions.
  2. Causing people to stop using common sense: People who are demanding cause their people to get distracted away from their priorities. Common sense is not always that common! You need to make sure you are not distracting your people away from thinking and you get people to think by asking good questions.
  3. Indulging in favoritism: Do you have employees that you like more than others?   Do you think the other employees know that? This is a big deal because it can cause a good employee to lower their productivity.  If some employees feel less valuable than others they will stop giving their best effort.
  4. Overreactions that create liars: You may act in a way that makes your people not want to tell you things (you end up the least informed person in the office). There is enough dishonesty in the world without us creating it in the people around us. Some of us have more control over our reactions that others. Overreactions are an acute awareness. If you have quick reflexes, you tend to be over reactive (a good pilot or Astronaut is the exception but they are hard to find). The key is to be accepting and tolerant or tell people you may overreact but you recover quickly.
  5. Believing that it’s not what you say, it’s what you do:
    Your strategic thinking won’t help you enough.
    What comes out of your mouth creates the culture around you. It’s not what you do, it’s what you say in reality.

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Management Training Programs


Influencial Leadership: What top leaders do differently

April 7, 2010

If your job is to get everybody on the same page, you should at least make that page a lot easier to read.

Influencial leaders have value and clarity

  • They can clearly explain their value in 20 seconds. You have to know what people value before you can influence them. Knowledge is not enough.
  • They are able to get people to think: Teaching is not enough. Always ask questions. Good question: “Is there a question I didn’t ask today that you think I should have?”

How leaders cause their people not to think – Sometimes we’re so dominant, people just react to our behavior and don’t use common sense. They focus on what we leaders want in the moment, and not on job requirements.

Avoiding bad questions is easy; asking good questions takes effort.

  • They use the agreement formula: Ask, listen, agree, recommend. The reason this works is because people rarely disagree with their own ideas.
  • They don’t use their intelligence against themselves. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if no one knows what you’re talking about. Communication is about making sure people actually understand what they are supposed to do. It’s not just about making the information available. It’s a complete cycle.
  • They don’t show a lack of tolerance. If you are intelligent, you may lack tolerance for those who don’t understand things as well as you. If that is the case, you may be labeled a poor communicator, which robs you of influence. You are now the smartest person in the room with the least amount of influence. Congratulations!

They clearly communicate their point and don’t give mixed messages.

They avoid “jellyfish management”

  • A jellyfish manager is a leader who doesn’t stand behind company initiatives and then loses patience with his or her employees when they can’t get the job done to company specifications. A true leader does not blame those in upper management.

Effective language: “It’s definitely different but can be done. I know you can do it because I’m confident you have the skills to make it happen.

They know the perfect team is not perfect

  • The definition of a team is people who play different positions. If we all thought and believed the same way, we’d make a terrible team. A good team needs people with different schools of thought.
  • The job of a leader is to forge a team out of a diverse group of people who may not always agree. A good leader can make the peace, hold the team accountable, and make them feel valued as a unit.

They have fair partnerships that create good relationships

  • People need to know the leader is doing all they can. Employees under 30 don’t work hard if they think the boss is not working hard. Work … or look like it! It’s possible to have authority without influence.

They deal well with younger workers

  • Praise them along the way to the goal.
  • Younger generations need to know up front the consequences for ignoring policy. They need stiff guidelines, not vague warnings.  Show how their work affects the big picture of the whole company, not just their individual job.
  • Make sure that every task has a legitimate reason for existing: show the value of safety and let them know how valuable they are.
  • The worst leadership strategy you can have is wishing people were more like you.

They know how to hold people accountable

  • The best way to hold people accountable is by holding yourself accountable first in front of them. Most leaders will not readily do this, but the most effective leaders always do.
  • What to say: “Things were not optimal last week. As your leader, I’ve looked at some things I could do differently. I can attend safety meetings with you and communicate initiatives more clearly. Now let’s go around the room and talk about what else we can do differently.” People instantly become accountable when given a say.

They make good first impressions

  • What looks good instantly – People are apt to choose what looks good right off the bat.
  • Instant image impact – The most influential people make sure people believe in what they are doing before they do it
  • People don’t work for companies; they work for their direct supervisor.

They know that companies grow and they need to adjust

  • Compliance – When a company grows, the tactics have to change to fit the size of the company.
  • It’s like hunting larger prey. You need a bigger weapon. Some guns just make polar bears mad. The tactics have to fit the job.
  • Increased professionalism – If you work in the same place for a long time, you only know that culture. When the culture changes due to growth, you are required to change with it. The benchmark of a professional leader You need to tell people why they are doing something, not just what to do.

They spend time with people who can position them to succeed

  • Good leaders network with the right people and associate themselves with those who can help them succeed. If you spend all your time with people who can’t help you succeed, you don’t have time for those who can or will. Spend a lot of time with your top performers, not just your low performers.

They know how to keep and attract top performers

  • The driving force behind success – Compulsive behavior can drive successful employees. And sometimes great talent comes with great weakness. Most leaders over manage their top performers. We have to understand the best way for some people to work is by literally doing it their own proven way.
  • Your own ego issues – Don’t let your ego clash with your employees’. You might have to set strict guidelines, but you have to get out of the way and let top performers succeed. Ensure they have an effective environment.
  • Why they reallyleave, and why they won’t tell you – Research from Rice University showed the number one reason employees under 30 leave is because their supervisor does not pay enough attention to them and they aren’t getting sufficient feedback. Workers over 30 leave because they don’t feel valued by their coworkers or boss. People under 30 equate attention with value. As we get older, we may lose the need for attention, but we still need to feel valued.

They understand why people leave

  • Lack of leadership – People don’t really work for companies; they work for their direct supervisor.
  • The video store experiment – If a leader does not make his or her people feel valuable – if they yell or don’t show respect – once that manager isn’t looking or isn’t around to watch employee activities, productivity drops to nothing. You could have the same group of employees with different shift managers, and the employees will change their behavior based on which manager is around. The attitude of the supervisor affects the behavior of the workers.

Leadership Training Program information


The Boss – A Moving Company’s 3rd-Generation Chief – NYTimes.com

March 23, 2009

The New York Times business section recently featured a success story about Maureen Beal, Chief executive of National Van Lines. Maureen gives us some great insight into her secret advantage on her road to success.

Since I was no longer the boss’s daughter, people would say things in front of me that they wouldn’t have before. At lunch with my colleagues, I would hear them talk about terrible bosses. This boss was demanding or disrespectful, that one didn’t listen, and another one never asked about anyone’s family when it had a crisis.
The Boss – A Moving Company’s 3rd-Generation Chief – NYTimes.com

Maureen also makes a strong point about the importance of spending most of your time focussing on what you do well, while surrounding yourself with others whose strong points balance out your weaknesses. If you spend most of your trying to improve your weaknesses, you lose the chance of ever really succeeding in what you do well.

I also learned that you have to surround yourself with people who have the expertise you lack, even if it makes you uncomfortable. My father was a visionary; administration was not his strong point. It’s mine, however, along with the ability to carry out a plan. If someone presents an idea to me, I can determine whether or not it will work. I can’t always define exactly what I want, but I know it when I see it.


Management and Leadership

April 22, 2008

Getting Great Results Turning Talent Into Performance:  If you did not see this leadership keynote live, here are some brief presentation notes

The definition of leadership: Someone following someone because he wants to, not because he has to.

Do you want to be right or effective?
Have you ever been so right that no one would talk to you? If you criticize others’ ideas, they will almost never use yours, no matter how good they are.

Effective leaders drop their judgments:
Everybody knows something you don’t. “I disagree, but I am willing to listen.” Thinking you know everything is proof that you don’t.

Listening skills:
You motivate people by listening to them; compassion and attention create dedication. When people feel heard and not judged, they will do more than just the minimum.

Managing difficult personality styles:
A high percentage of employees with difficult behavior may be getting unintentional negative consequences for doing a good job. Don’t reward an effective employee with someone else’s work.

What great managers know:
People don’t change that much. Look for the value they have now. Don’t manage for the miracle; just because you found one diamond in the rough does not mean you are a magic manager. Some people just suck!

Hiring for talent:
Look for the naturally recurring patterns that are needed to do the job. Some people are very articulate and experienced and yet have no ability. If they ask you to further explain the question you just asked them in an interview, tell them it’s their interpretation that’s important. You will now find out who they really are.

Use attribute assessments:
Stop hiring the talent impaired!

You turn talent into performance by aligning goals with talents.

Management Skills Training Programs


How to deal with motivationally challenged younger workers

April 17, 2008

Do you find it difficult to motivate younger workers? Have you noticed that employees under 25 will quit their job to go on a ski trip? They will choose pleasure and friends over work every time — actions that indicate that there may be a different work ethic in place. What about people in their 30s? They seem to need more time off and value flexible schedules over money.

Whatever happened to dedicated, committed people who did what was right for the company, the customer and the wallet? Well, for starters, they grew up. Now at least in their 40s, many of them are managing the thirty-something and twenty-something workforce and realizing that these younger people cannot be motivated the same way they were. I don’t know about you, but I start thinking, “You know back in my day (I am now officially old enough to have had a day), we did what we had to do. We ate dirt and we liked it; we walked to work, up hill, both ways, in the snow — we had no shoes. Heck, we had no feet! We walked on our nubs everywhere we went…”

I admit, I’m taking it a bit far here. I never walked to work, I spent most of my life in Florida (no hills, no snow) and I do have both feet, but I think you know where I’m coming from.

How can we effectively motivate people who feel so differently than we do about their job? Wynn Solutions did some research on how some organizations get amazing results from their younger people. These top-performing organizations:

  • Understand that these people grew up in the most affluent time in American history and were raised to expect more out of life. They inherited not only a world of material abundance but also a workplace with perceived unlimited opportunity.
  • Know younger workers measure success not just in dollars but also in equality of pay; that is, they expect to paid as much as anyone who holds the same job.
  • Know workers in their 20s will not respect someone just because that person is older or holds a superior position; they will only respect those who show respect for them.
  • Create goals that work; younger people respond to small goals with tight deadlines and want a quick track for success with praise along the way.
  • Let younger workers know that the skills and training they are getting will help them in the future with other companies, not just with the job they have now. Younger workers believe that companies won’t take care of them for life so they don’t value long-term employment.
  • Know they want stimulating work; they grew up with video games and fast-moving, quickly edited movies. They like to multitask and can become easily bored with processes that move too slowly or have no flexibility.
  • Know that younger workers need to be shown that the boss (not just the company) cares about them. They want to know that their supervisor will give direct praise on a consistent basis for a job well done and will encourage and support them when they are not doing well.
  • Understand what they think about us: They believe our computers crash because we are old and that we have chosen work and money over fun and family, which makes us uptight and cranky as we multitask unsuccessfully.

For those who are thinking these people are just spoiled and should grow up and face reality … each generation would naturally be a bit more spoiled than the previous one as long as the economy continues to grow and parents keep scheduling play dates for their children, telling them they can be anything they want to be and driving them to soccer practice. That’s reality! It’s simply the result of an affluent society.

The good news is that, properly motivated, these young people are brilliant. We talked to many organizations that were implementing some of the strategies outlined above and achieving phenomenal results. The key to long-term organizational growth and change is knowing how to motivate the new talent that can take you into the future. The key does not involve wishing they were more like you. Remember that they are not living in our times; we are living in theirs.

Training program:
Effectively Managing Generation X and Y: How to work more effectively with younger people
Keynote speaker Garrison Wynn’s generation y programs


Stinking of Success: The Importance of Gratitude

January 25, 2008

Being grateful is not always the easiest thing to do. I remember hearing the story when I was in the first grade about a man who was unhappy that he had no shoes until he met a man who had no feet. I was the kid who raised his hand and said “hey, the guy with no feet doesn’t really need shoes”. So being grateful did not come naturally to me and in reality, it still doesn’t. The best way for me to feel gratitude with any regularity is by helping other people when they are not feeling grateful. Doing that consistently has made me appreciate my life and the people around me over the years.

Tip: If you don’t like what you have, it’s hard to like what you get. It’s called the spoiled child syndrome. If you don’t appreciate the things in your life you have right now, when the new things come they won’t mean as much. Also, people can smell a lack of gratitude all over you. That smell tends to cover up the more effective smell of success.  Life always has a bit of an aroma (I’m trying to avoid saying life stinks) so try to smell as good as you can.


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