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Values Driven Leadership with Dina Dwyer – Episode 186 of The Action Catalyst Podcast

Values

Behind the fancy job titles, the awards, the TV appearances, and the $1 billion-dollar-business that her company’s service brands do each year, Dina Dwyer-Owens equates her success to having a living by a proven Code of Values. Her first book Live RICH: How to build success in your company and your life with a proven Code of Values has connected with thousands of readers by offering a simple message that in a world of constant change, values can be ever-present. Now in Values, Inc., named one of the Top Ten Business Books from 2015 by Forbes, Dina aims to help inspire more hope for the future by taking the spotlight and shining it on those doing the things she loves to cheer about: living and leading with integrity.

Show Highlights:

 

  • Live R.I.C.H: Respect, Integrity, Customer Focus and Have fun in the process. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • People create the systems and then we coach those systems. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • We teach our principle and system to people. Franchising is our vehicle. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Focus on re-earning your position every day in every way. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Continuously strive to maximize customer loyalty. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • We always think about systems. If something isn’t working, there isn’t a system or something is broken.  @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Anytime there is a meeting of 3+ people, in the beginning we are reading our values. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Values driven leadership is not for the faint of heart. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • Enforcing vision requires constant vigilance. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • The rewards of operating by values are too great to ignore. @DinaDwyerOwens
  • @rory_vaden shares steps to creating a company creed or set of values.

 

Download your free copy of the Create Your Culture workbook by visiting: dinadwyerowens.com

The Action Catalyst is a weekly podcast hosted by Rory Vaden of Southwestern Consulting every Wednesday. The show is regularly in the Top 25 of Business News Podcasts, has listeners from all around the world and shares “insights and inspiration to help you take action.” Each week Rory shares ideas on how to increase your self-discipline and make better use of your time to help you achieve your goals in life. He also interviews special expert guests and thought leaders. Subscribe on iTunes and please leave a rating and review!

Why Competition is Over Rated

Competition

You don’t have to beat other people to dominate in business. 

There doesn’t have to be a loser in order for you to be a winner. 

And the business world today, seems to be rewarding those who have more of a selfless focus on serving than those who have a relentless focus on competing. 

Those getting ahead seem to have more of an intrinsic drive to improve than an extrinsic drive to defeat. 

Success in business today doesn’t really allow time to be concerned about how you rank compared to other people. 

Because in order to survive and compete in this fast moving generation, you need every extra ounce of that energy focused on how to improve your customer experience. 

You have to have more of your creative capacities going into innovating and less going into comparing. 

It’s not about finding ways to defeat your competition; it’s about finding ways to serve your customers. 

The speed of communication, the speed of technology and a growing overall climate of customers becoming accustomed to having their needs and preferences hyper-tailored to, means that we need every resource possible focused on keeping up with and surpassing their expectations. 

If we do that we’re more likely to win. If we don’t we might be in trouble. 

Many of the industries that have experienced disruption have resulted from the traditionally stable providers benchmarking against their competitors more so than thinking about how to better solve the customers problem. 

That line of thinking encourages the status quo inside an industry and opens the door for those outside the industry to come in and find a better way. 

It’s as if innovation is sometimes forced to come in from outside an industry when the age old players inside the industry are squabbling for market share instead of obsessing over customer needs. 

AirBNB, Uber, digital cameras and Netflix were all created from players outside an industry. 

When it could’ve been hotels, taxi companies, Kodak and Blockbuster that figured out a smarter way to serve customer interests. 

The point is that when we focus on beating other people, we might risk missing out on something more valuable. 

When we focus on serving other people we activate our senses. We come alive. We invent. We innovate. And we combine time tested principles with modern tools to find a smarter and better way to solve customers problems. 

The same is true of personal success. 

Our success is irrespective of what is being accomplished or not accomplished by those around us. 

Our success is measured by how we perform compared to ourselves. How we perform compared to our potential. And most importantly how we perform compared to our capacity to best serve those around us. 

We are only trying to beat who we were yesterday. 

We are only trying to crush the way we’ve always done it. 

We are only trying to compete with the best possible ways to get ourselves and our clients to the next level.

Don’t just work hard. Do the hard work.

work

Working hard is not the key to success; it’s merely the price of admission. 

Hard work alone isn’t enough to bring you everything you want. 

Because if you’re working hard at the wrong things then they won’t take you to where you want to go. 

You have to work hard at the right things if you want to achieve your desired destination. 

Which introduces a second element to the equation. 

Because not only do you have to work hard, you also have to work hard at the right things. 

So what are the right things?

 Actually it’s usually pretty simple to identify them. 

Typically the right things, the best things, the most significant things you can do to achieve your goal are often the things you know need to be done but you most don’t want to do. 

They are the things that nobody likes to do. 

If you’re trying to build muscle, it means doing pull ups or leg day. 

If you’re trying to lose weight, it means cutting your alcohol, carbs, or sugar intake. 

If you’re in sales, it is prospecting. 

If you’re trying to get out of debt, it’s making and following a budget.  

In other words, it’s not enough to just work hard.  

You have to do the hard work. 

You have to do the things you don’t want to do. 

You have to do the things that other people aren’t willing to do. 

You have to do the things that you know are good for you, but they are hard. 

You don’t do them because the goal is to make life as hard as possible. 

Quite the contrary, you do them because they ultimately make life easier.

But that path is predicated on the unpopular truth that the shortest most guaranteed path to a more productive life is to do the hardest parts of things as soon as possible!

You don’t just work hard. You do the hard work. 

And if you that… 

If you work hard…

And you also do the hard work…

Then you will start to find that eventually things get easier and easier. 

The Essence of a Leader

leader

Everyone wants to be a leader…until that moment where they have to truly step up and lead. 

Because we often associate leadership with impressive titles, more pay, and additional job perks. 

Yet leadership isn’t made in corner offices or fancy boardrooms. Real leadership happens on the front lines. 

And what most leaders don’t understand about leading is that it isn’t telling people what to do; it’s showing them what to do. 

Which means that essentially a big part of leadership is simply this: “I’ll go first.”

Whatever I’m asking you to do I will do. 

Whatever needs to be done won’t be done by you; it will be done by us. 

And whatever sacrifices need to be made will be made by me first. 

I’ll be the first to risk. 

I’ll be the first to invest. 

I’ll be the first to do the work. 

I’ll be the first to create the model. 

I’ll be the first to invent the path where there is none. 

I’ll be the first to take the heat. 

I’ll be the first to make the difficult decisions. 

I’ll be the first to take the blame. 

I’ll be the first to learn. 

I’ll be the first to change. 

I’ll be the first to cut. 

I’ll be the first to meet that standard. 

I’ll be the first to break that belief barrier. 

“I’ll go first.”

That kind of leadership isn’t assigned; it’s assumed. 

That kind of leadership isn’t demanding; it’s inspiring. 

That kind of leadership isn’t bestowed; it’s activated. 

That is the part of leadership that can’t be taught in classrooms; it can only be revealed in battle. 

But if you’re willing to be that kind of person…

If you’re willing to step up…

If you’re willing to go where no one has gone before…

Then you don’t need a title. 

You don’t need an office. 

And you don’t need perks. 

You are already on your way to developing the essence of a great leader. 

5 Steps to Create Transformational Team Unity

Unity

A team is a group of people held together by a unifying set of beliefs.  

But what those beliefs are, unfortunately all too often are unspoken.

Typically, people gather with people who they are like or who believe what they believe.

Yet there is some nearly mystical power that comes about as the inspiring byproduct of when a team takes the time the codify their beliefs.

At Southwestern Consulting, we’ve walked many of our clients through this and we call this “The Creed Conversation”.

We first discovered the power of this activity by realizing the need to apply an age-old part of Southwestern’s culture around positive self-talk to our Southwestern Consulting team as a whole. We realized we had not yet taken the time to write out our shared philosophies at Southwestern Consulting. It ended up being one of the most transformational pivot points in the history of our own company.

It’s so simple to do, that virtually any team at anytime can have a “Creed Conversation.” Many companies have a formal “mission statement” or “values” but this process takes it a step further by empowering collaboration and most importantly assimilating it into the regular course of our workflow.

All you need is an audio recorder, someone who can type, a group of some of your key leaders and a facilitator. Then follow a few steps:

1.Set the Stage – Explain to everyone that despite being a team for x amount of time, it dawned on you that you have never created, as a team, a list of the principles that you all believe in. While you may have a company mission statement or something, it’s not nearly as powerful as something created by the team of people who do the work every day. Tell them the goal is simply to document a list of shared philosophies of the team. It can also be a good idea to play for the Simon Sinek’s famous Ted talk “Start With Why.” 

2.Ask the Questions – Start the audio recording (so you have it for future reference) and then simply ask the group (best if done in person with less than 20 people) a series of open-ended questions just to get them thinking in the right direction. Write down EVERYthing everyone says in the random order that it comes out. If possible it’s best to do it on a word document on an overhead projector so everyone can see it start to take shape and come alive. Here’s some sample questions you can ask: 

  • What do we know to be true about the way we do business?
  • Why do we work so hard at this business?
  • What philosophies do we have that are un-compromisable?
  • How do we want to treat our clients and each other?
  • How do we want to be remembered as a team?
  • What do we want to be known for?
  • What do we want people to think when they think of us?
  • What are we most proud of in the way we do business?

You can ask any question in this vein and you can’t really go wrong. The only way you can mess this up is by taking too much control of the conversation and providing all the answers yourself. This is for the team to come up with, and you are a team member so you can contribute, but let them speak and create it.

3.Organize and Edit – Once all has been captured now it’s time to assimilate and edit. It helps to have someone with some decent writing skills here to guide this step. What the writer will want to do is first copy and paste similar statements or philosophies together into paragraphs without altering any of the statements as they were initially said. You’ll notice that many themes probably kept getting repeated during the exercise and that’s a good thing but here’s where we’re going to manage that.

After that, the writer is going to have the challenging role of reducing many of the paragraphs down to one sentence each based on the recurring themes so there is 1 sentence per theme. The key here though is to try and preserve the actual semantics used by the people in the group as much as possible. Try to grab key phrases, repeatable mantras, or colorful language from the group but without being too repetitious.

 Then the last and hardest part will be to edit and massage all of these ideas into simple, concise, powerful, active sentences. Don’t say “we strive to do the best we can for our customers whenever possible.” Instead say, “we always do the right thing.”

Once you have all of the statements complete, next you will want to write an opening paragraph that pulls in some of the corporate vision, values, and mission statement. And then write a short closing paragraph that is a unifying and rallying call to action to live out and execute all of the philosophies that were just listed. Oh…and all of this at most has to fit onto one page.

4.Represent for Approval – Now that it’s all been synthesized by the writer/editor, the next step is to send it back out to the team for final suggestions and feedback. At this stage it’s a good idea to even send it out to the team at large (who wasn’t included in the initial meeting).

Invite the team to discuss this in their smaller teams and within their departments to get reactions from people all throughout the organization. Give everyone an opportunity to suggest additions or changes.

It’s a chance to get everyone’s feedback and input. Work on the edits until everyone agrees and you can formally vote on it and ratify it as a part of your continuing corporate culture. (It should be a living document that can be edited later as necessary with unanimous vote.)

5. Put it in Use – The key to making a creed work is making sure it doesn’t just end up in a drawer somewhere with other corporate jargon that never gets looked at. It needs to come alive and be referred to early and often. Here are some of the best ways to get it in use:

  • Read it out loud at the start of every meeting (there are many fun ways you can vary this up.)
  • Refer to it whenever you have a difficult decision to make.
  • Make it be the first thing you show to recruits and new hires and explain that it is the predominant criteria for being hired or getting promoted.
  • Cite elements of it whenever you roll out a new change for the company.
  • Ask people to cite it whenever they see something that is a real-life illustration of a principle that is documented in the creed.
  • Ask people to cite it whenever they see something in the company that needs to be improved or challenged.
  • Include elements of the Creed on walls, trophies, certificates, and anywhere else it makes sense.
  • Consider creating awards in your company for people who exemplify specific lines of the Creed.i)“Initiate” new people by inviting them to read it out loud (or part of it) their first day on the job.
  • Make it a part of your personal affirmations that you read every morning.

A Creed can be a synthesizing and rallying time for your entire team.

There is something tremendously powerful about having a documented, agreed upon, and declared set of values that govern the behaviors of members.

It can turn losers into winners.

It can turn doubters into believers.

It can turn pacifists into activists

If you create a Creed, you will create a culture. 

Why Workplace Culture Matters

Workplace Culture

If you plant a perfect palm (tree) seed in North Dakota, the seed will not grow.

Why?

Is it because the seed is bad?

No.

It’s because palm (tree) seeds need to be in very warm places with high humidity in order to sprout and grow.

It’s not just the seed that matters.

But also putting it into the right soil.

Typically when we think of improving performance, we think of improving ourselves – and that’s a good thing.

But leaders can never forget that it’s a two part equation: “right seed right soil.”

As performers, we’re like the seeds. And our job is to always prepare ourselves to be the best.

But as a leader our job is to also prepare the right soil for our seedlings to sprout.

Too often leaders blame a person’s poor performance on their lack of commitment, their lack of skill, or their lack of discipline.

But the reality is that many times the seed is fine, they just aren’t in “the right soil.”

They haven’t been given the right tools.

They haven’t been given the proper training.

They haven’t been given ample attention.

And just like a seed won’t sprout if we don’t provide the proper care, neither will a good team member ever perform if they are in the wrong environment.

It’s always about the right seed and the right soil.

So if you’re a leader make sure you’re not only trying to find the best seeds, but that you’re also doing the work to prepare the proper soil.