‘Life-Work Balance’


Expect the Best From People – You Just Might Get It

Last month I delivered a Keynote Speech on leadership to over 100 top managers of  the TBC Retail Group; one of the USA’s largest wholesale and retail chains of tire and auto service centers.

One theme I spoke on is how being a great manager or leader is a lot like being a great parent (Of course, in my experience as both, I’ve noticed you hear a hell of a lot more whining as a manager).  I talked about 8 keys to creating self-motivated people that work for your staff as well as your kids.  One of my favorites keys is: “Expect the best.”

When you expect the best from people and not only communicate that fact, plus let them know you have confidence they can do it, you’ll be amazed at how often you get the best.  The opposite is also true.

Have you ever witnessed a parent who tells a child, “You’ll never amount to anything.  Everything you touch turns to crap?”  Then, some years later they get a call telling them their kid’s been arrested and they’re amazed.  What are you amazed about?  You predicted it!  You should be proud.  You were right!

Years ago, I had a boss who taught me everything about how NOT to be a great leader.  He held sales meetings Friday afternoon at 5:30PM.  His purpose was to ruin our weekends.  Every meeting started the same way.  We would sit in his office, silently, while he sat behind his desk staring at us for about 30 seconds.  Finally, he’d look up and say, “I just want youse guys (Brooklyn native) to know, youse all suck!”

What a motivator!  You just wanted to run through a brick wall for this guy.  He was so clueless that one day he had the nerve to ask me, “Why is our turnover so high?”

What did he expect?  People will ALWAYS rise or fall to your level of communicated expectation.

Let me tell you about my daughter, Emily.

Emily turned 19 last month.  She is a sophomore at High Point University in High Point, NC and is doing great!  Her grades are better than they’ve ever been (all A’s and B’s).  She is an active member of a sorority; has a job on campus; is active in campus activities and is really taking advantage of the entire college experience.  In addition, she’s a pleasure to be around and is just a really great kid, who I have high hopes for.  However, that wasn’t always the case.

From 8th grade through high school Emily was a swift pain in the butt.  She was your typical surly, moody teenager.  As a student she was, at best, disinterested, at worst, the part of the class that makes the top half possible.  Have you ever gone to a parent/teacher conference and asked your kid just before you walk in, “How’s it going in this class?”  They say, “Fine,” and then the first thing the teacher hits you with is, “Emily is missing 11 assignments!”  Don’t you love those conversations?

Normal conversations (both mine and Linda’s) with her would go like this: “How’s school Em?” “Fine.”  “Anything happen today.” “No.” “Have any homework.”  “A little.”  There were the screaming matches too.  “I hate you.”  “You hate me.”  “None of my friends ever have to do that.”  Or, of course, “My friends get to do (or have) ________, why can’t I?”  That one bugged me so much I finally said, “Hey Em, how come you never say, “My friends get all A’s, how come I don’t?”

There was the usual sneaking out of the house stuff.  The friends we never got to meet and the ones we did know but weren’t crazy about and of course, the boys (it doesn’t help that Em is a very pretty girl).  To sum it up, Em was a “Valley Girl” who was going to major in “Shopping Mall.”

We threatened her; punished her; grounded her; took away privilege upon privilege; bailed her out (not jail, but school) and let her sink.  Finally, we’d just throw up our hands and say, “Well, at least she didn’t fail.  A “C” is not bad.”  We had low expectations and Emily was just as happy to fulfill them.  She loved playing the dumb, clueless blond.  But then, late in her senior year of high school, it all changed.

The Turning Point

For eleven years Emily had been a member and captain of the Bouncing Bulldogs Rope Skipping Team.  Every year the team has an End of Year Banquet, where the graduating seniors give a speech.  In Em’s senior year she was one of five girls graduating; three of them top students going on to big time schools.  Linda and I were worried that Em was going to “Fall on her face.”

I told her I would not write the speech for her but I’d help her with the editing and coach her.  Two days before the banquet I asked how the speech was coming.  She screamed, “I don’t know what to write.” Finally, I told her just write what you feel.  Talk about your experiences and all the friends you’ve made.

The next day Emily hands me a copy of the speech to edit.  I was blown away.  I said to Linda, “You’re not going to believe this, it’s great!  There’s nothing to edit.”  I told Em I loved it, gave her 2 to 3 minutes of coaching and that was it.

The night of the banquet she blew the place away. It was amazing.  She was funny, poignant and poised.  Eye contact: perfect.  Ability to deliver a punch line: phenomenal.  There were people asking me if I wrote it (NOPE).  Did I coach her for weeks (NOPE; 3 minutes).  It was all Emily.

The next day I sat her down and said, “Em, you blew your cover.  The jig is up.  After that performance you will never again convince us that you can’t do ANYTHING you put your mind to.  The dumb blonde routine is not going to work on your mother and me, because last night, you blew it.

So here’s the deal.  The bar has been raised and you’re the one who raised it.  From now on a C is not acceptable.  Your mother and I will only accept A and B work because we’ve seen the kind of A+ work you’re capable of.   You blew away every one of those girls who were SUPPOSED to be smarter and more articulate than you.

I stated earlier, Emily knocked it out of the park her freshman year, so I sat her down and we decided to raise the bar ever higher in this, her sophomore year and she’s living up to all the expectations and more, which is no surprise to me.

Far too many people in this world suffer from the disease of low expectations.  Whether you’re a parent, manager, business owner, teacher or anyone else in a leadership position; expect the best from people.  Communicate that fact to them and let them know that YOU KNOW they are more than capable of doing and being the best and you’ll amazed at how often you get the best.  That too is a self-fulfilling prophecy.


How The Motivator Got Motivated

Like many people out there today, I was one of those unmotivated, directionless people walking around in a comatose state, mumbling, “I hate my job; I don’t want to do this anymore. But what else could I possibly do? This is the only thing I know, and besides, they pay me well, so I might as well stay!” Whoa, talk about commitment! “They pay me well, so I might as well stay!” How would you like to have someone like that working for you?

Click here for my special offer on my new DVD Goal-Setting Techniques That Work.

By the time you finish this DVD, you will walk away with the beginnings of your own, personal 5 year plan for your life, career or business!

It was 1983. I had spent almost 10 years working in the garment center in New York City and I hated it! But instead of constantly whining that I was stuck and “what else could I do,” I had a revelation. I said to myself, “Hey, putz, it’s not that there’s nothing else you can do—there’s always something else you can do. It’s just that you’re too lazy to get off your big fat ass to figure out what it is.” So that’s what I did. I got off my big fat ass (it’s much smaller now), went to see a career counselor, was put through my first ever goal setting session, and within months had the career I wanted along with a job that I created! I was head of sales and marketing for a small training and consulting firm in New York City.

After two years on that job I decided I wanted to be in my own business. I went back to my goal setting skills (which were now even sharper, since I went to every goal setting and training seminar that I sold) to write a plan for my new business. I started my business in March 1986 and I’m still out there going strong.

Probably the biggest change I ever made was in 1997 when my wife, children, and I relocated from New York City (where we had lived our entire lives) to Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Every time I tell people that, they always say the same thing: “Wow, that’s a big change!” I know, that’s why we did it. If I wanted a small change, I would have moved to the east side.

But, as with any other big change in my life, I didn’t just wake up one day and say to my wife, “We gotta get the hell out of here, so let’s throw a dart into the map of the United States and wherever it hits, that’s where we go.”

We started discussing this three years before we left, and after asking the inevitable question, “Where do we go?” we took our goal setting and planning skills and formulated criteria and a profile of what we felt would be the perfect place for our family.

After narrowing it down and coming up with Chapel Hill, we then visited it so many times we knew every inch of the place. It was only then that we knew it would be the perfect place for us, and it has been.

Having a clearly defined written goal and plan will motivate and energize you to go out and achieve anything you really want in your life, career, or business. I’m always amazed at how easy it’s been for me to get whatever I want, once I bother to figure out what is; and that’s what I want to do for you in my new DVD, Goal Setting Techniques that Work.


Goal-Setting Techniques Video Clip

Here is a clip from my new seminar on DVD, Goal-Setting Techniques That Work, which is now available for special pricing for a limited time. Click here for my special offer.


Starting Your Own Business: What to Expect Part II

In the second of this two part series based on Discover Card’s “Small Business Watch,” we’re looking at information derived from small business owners that will better prepare you to take that next step into entrepreneurship. Here are some things you might not know but better be prepared for:

  • Nearly one of three business owners, 31 percent, indicated they work at least 10 hours or more per day on average. Only out of five non-business owners, 19 percent, worked the same each day.
  • 15 percent of small business owners work every day of the week, more than twice as many, 6 percent, as the general population. Similarly, 28 percent of small business owners work six days a week, compared to 15 percent of the general population.
  • Nearly half of small business owners, 47 percent, said that they always or mostly work on official holidays.

So if you’re used to a 9 to 5 life, think twice before starting a business.

  • More than half of the business owners, 52 percent, took seven days or less off work last year, compared to 36 percent of the general population.
  • 59 percent of small business owners define a “day off” as being available for calls and emails, working some time or even working all day at a remote location. Only 32 percent of the general population does the same.
  • More than half of small business owners, 55 percent, said their spouses approve of them checking email when they are off from work, compared to 37 percent of the general population.
  • “Small business owners are really focused on serving their customers every day. Our survey found that 40 percent of them carry wireless devices to keep in touch with their customers and clients when off work." “Being a small business owner often means that you are always open for business.”

When you’re a small business owner, your life is your business and your business is your life. It’s not even a matter of overlapping; they are totally intertwined.

Also, if you already own a small business or you’re thinking about starting one, then check out our new small business consulting service and give us a call for a free initial consultation.


Own, Operate & Grow Your Own Business: Part III

Learn why starting business owners have to be their own best salesperson as well.