Renewed by the end of Summer and the case for Corporate Social Responsability

Refresh Yourself

Summer has come to an end and I feel renewed. Now don’t get me wrong, it was a long summer and things haven’t slowed down because it is Fall. In the last few months I have had many meetings, long business trips, late working days, and further discussions about the things that consume much of my attention. Between home and work, life has just been simply busy. Still, as I think of this Summer, I feel renewed; overflowing with memories that build momentum for me to remain committed and engaged with all that is going on in my life.

Some of the memories that fill my mind and generate this positive energy?
Taking mornings out of my work schedule to start the day sharing a cup of coffee with my wife…
Reading more books that feed both the heart and the brain (finishing John Piper’s The Pleasures of God and enjoying Joseph McCormack’s Brief)…
Spending more time with my children just talking and getting to know who they are deep inside…
Reconnecting with friends and family, and inviting new people into my life…
Opening our home to our community and serving people for who they are…
Helping a friend move into his new home…
Recommitting to speaking Portuguese more often with my family (this is a big one)…
Going on a road trip…
Attending a soccer game (Liverpool 2-0 AC Milan)…
Taking long walks on the beach…
Waking up to the see the sun-rise and taking the time to watch it go down…
Taking a day off work to do nothing but play hard with my family (Defygravity is awesome)…
Running 4 to 5 miles twice a week (just me and the road ahead)…

I could go on. It’s a simple list of memories made up of events both big and small, but each with a meaning that serves to push me forward when the stress of life starts to creep up.

We all go through those moments when life is just too busy and hectic. What do you do to regain your energy levels? I’ve learned that it is the way one responds that ultimately stabilizes our vision. It provides additional angles to our perspective of things.

For me it helps to spend time with my family; It reminds me of why I do what I do. And when I help others, this allows me to understand my situation in a different light. I believe this is why more and more businesses are pushing for their employees to focus on community initiatives. It is more than a PR move. Yes, helping the community you serve with your business is important but it is much more than a “photo pop.”

The case for Corporate Social Responsibility

In a 2004 article published in the Economist we see the arguments for why corporate america should and should not focus on social responsibility. While the message focuses on the impact of company resources on the environment, the same arguments can be made for any opportunity to serve the people that buy the product or use the widget your business provides.  Still, I believe the impact is two-fold (which is what is missing from the article linked above); not only are businesses caring for their communities, but the people that make up the enterprise are growing in the experience of giving of their own resources – time and money.

This practice is not as common in Portugal so I’ve learned much from my experience in the US. I will never forget the year 2005 as one where myself and a group of co-workers volunteered to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. The opportunity to do something so selfless allowed me to understand my position when compared to others. How fortunate I am. How blessed I am. That experience alone was a catalyst for much humility. But it also provided me the desire to be more engaged with the company I worked with, knowing that it supported the communities it served. That was motivation to work even harder.

If you are a business owner, are you providing the opportunities for your workers to serve their community? Are you allowing them to grow in this process of selflessness? The rewards of employee motivation are real in these acts.

Getting you Pumped Up

He believes in you! He is your biggest fan! He cheers you in public when the crowd roars with excitement! He pulls you up when loneliness sets in! No matter what may come your way; no matter how big the challenge; no matter how high the mountain may seem; He is there for you!

Who?

The father in the lounging chair?

The neighbor sitting on the front the porch?

The teacher standing in the hallway?

The student hanging out in the playground?

The co-worker filling out paper forms?

YOU!!! Get up and move! This is your chance to make a difference. To make an impact. To pump someone up and see the effects as it spreads out! 

I was a reminded of this power as I saw a motivational calendar my team and I created for our sales channel. I made the cover page based on some of the expressions that inspire me. And as I look at it again, I feel inspired to be better myself. To get up and move. To lead at home. To lead at work. And to lead in my community. As a husband; as a father; as a son; as a brother; as a co-worker; as a mentor; as a friend.

Pumping you up

Let these words pump you up!

Stepping up to the challenge

taking a step

What does work changes, family health and extreme weather have in common? You have no control over either of them. That is basically what I experienced in the last few weeks.

It first started with increase work-related projects that needed my undivided attention as our business grows and reaches for additional success in a new year. My business trips started adding up to my calendar as each day unfolded a new opportunity for me to provide guidance and leadership. While all of this is happening a winter vortex fast approached the southern states that I’ve come to enjoy for their early spring. And because in a perfect storm it doesn’t simply rain, my wife and kids all got the flu at the worst time possible.

In that moment I remember thinking of what I could do to accommodate all the areas that were pulling for my attention. Have you ever had a moment like this? Where when you least expected the perfect plan becomes… well, not perfect at all? In these moments many of us tend to be stressed by the demands instead of being excited by the opportunities it poses for personal and professional growth. The way one juggles all responsibilities does provide a window to share on the demeanor and focus needed to overcome a challenge.

So that was my situation. I won’t deny that at some point I wanted to crawl into the fetal position and simply wish for all to go away. That lasted for about 1 minute… I didn’t have time for much more; in reality there was no time do stand still. My role as a husband, father, family leader, committed worker and team member required me to step up to the challenge. In moments like this I embrace the adrenaline and take in the opportunity to shine and grow. Will I make mistakes? Yes. Could I have done things differently? Yes.

But instead of getting bitter I want to get better.

We all go through moments like this, where our plans don’t go according to our…well, plans. To step up to the challenge all you need to do is take that first step. There are no manuals in handling unexpected challenges and so my main direction in these circumstances is to push through and take that step. I didn’t know all that was unfolding until it actually happened. Still, I took a step. With flexibility I changed by work plans to re-arrange my traveling. With commitment I took the time to be present for my family and take care of their needs. With engagement I made up my work time by working earlier mornings and later nights to handle all my responsibilities at the office.

I didn’t plan my last three weeks to be like this but I took a step to face my challenges head on. What challenges are you facing? You may not know what is coming up but all you need to do is take that first step.

Lessons Learned – the opportunities ahead

improve

As a follow-up to my last post, my recent business trips have allowed me to recognize the positives from the work my team and myself have done while also identifying areas where we can improve. Since today is Monday, it is fitting that we start the work week infused with a desire to improve. The opportunities are ahead of us all. Individually and group wise. When reviewing the areas you can do better you have to look outward and inward.

Let’s start outward
From a group perspective, these tend to be more visible.

What is your group doing that is not working? What items are you spending too much time with but getting little to no return on?
These can be strategies that impact the bottom line, or simple tactics that are falling short of achieving the results you intended. Additionally, what parts of your programs can be improved with different features or revamped thresholds. Since I work in a sales environment, these make sense. But I believe the same can be applied in other areas of work.

One of the best ways I’ve experienced opportunities being addressed is by listing each item and analyzing immediate and long term impacts. Prioritizing your areas of opportunity allows you to create a plan of attack for your takeaways. Additionally, it helps you spend you energy with efforts that will start providing you the results you need. Still, don’t forget to list the things you know you can’t implement or change right away. Knowing what these are will allow you to be clear in your approach and be motivated to take the steps you outlined.

Getting follow-up lists done with your work group will also create accountability with your peers. Providing action items with leaders identified with each effort helps you make progress on what you want to accomplish.

Switching to your inward review can be hard. And this is not just at work as it applies to the home front as well; with your family, at school, with your neighbors.

What is slowing you down? What actions do you take regularly that stir you away from your goals instead of getting you closer?
Each person has it’s own areas to improve and they are unique to oneself but I will share for myself what I know I need to improve. I need to say “no” more often. I need to evaluate my work load reality more often and provide realistic expectations to what I can and cannot do. I’m confident in my performance and I love to learn and grow. Still, too much work can stir me away from the very things I NEED to learn in order to grow in my role and achieve what I’m reaching for.

Looking outward and inward is easier said than done. More than recognizing the areas of improvement, it’s what you do with it that truly drives success.

Lessons learned – recognizing the positives

lessons learned

Just got back from a business trip to Florida where my workgroup got together to review last year’s accomplishments and look at the roadmap to success for 2014. With the growth of our business our meetings have evolved over the last few years. It seems like yesterday that I was sitting in a restaurant having brunch and talking business. This time we had four different sessions spanning from growth opportunities to system enhancements, vendor relationships and marketing strategies. Things have definitely changed and while we still got to connect as a team outside the office, we have truly moved from a start-up mindset to an accomplished business that is legitimately a leader in our industry.

As we closed the last session we took some time to recap our progress over the work we’ve done and what we can do better. Immediately I felt this urge to look at the areas where we are struggling. The areas where we still have much room for improvement. The opportuntities for growth. This is why we met, right? I mean, this is what you would consider a productive meeting. Recognizing what you are doing wrong and address them, right? As each person took their turn expressing their thoughts, I looked at my notes and the faces around the room. It was then that I saw the connection between our commitment, our work and our results. It was time to recognize that we have also done somethings right and we should be proud of our endeavors.

Sometimes, whether at home or at work, we tend to quickly look at the areas we are less impactful. This is especially true in business where it’s almost as if the whole purpose is to find the things you are not doing right. While being productive with planning and review meetings should provide your fair share of tangible improvement takeaways, it’s important to not forget the habits, the tactics, the strategies that you’re applying and with which you are “knocking it out of the park!”

How many times have you addressed the positives? Do you close your meetings that way. Do you recap what you are doing right?

It’s important to have a healthy balance in reviewing both the good and the bad. It sets a tone of motivation and encouragement that fuels the desire to be better and continue to grow. It’s important to recognize and celebrate what you are doing right so you can be confident in overcoming the challenges ahead.

Motivated to prioritizing your work – 3 great tips to remove stress

work stress

I thought December was supposed to be a slow month, unless of course you work in retail. Fortunately or unfortunately, long gone are the times when December was a month to file documents and close out on the year. Now December is much more of a review and plan month. This means more meetings, more setting of goals, and more creation of plans aimed at making the next year as successful or even more than this year. I can sense my stress level increasing just as I write this post.

I’ve felt this busy since the beginning of the month and as motivated as I am for doing great work at the office, I’m looking forward to Christmas and enjoying some time off with my family. Which led to the question: How can I prioritize my work in such a way that I’m set for success? And success here is both professional, by accomplishing my goals and planning objectives, as it is personal, being able to truly log off while on vacation. These are great motives to engage in productive work. So, since this time of the year can be stressful it’s important to recognize that pure motivation at work requires clear prioritization.

The below tips have helped me time and time again, and I wanted to share with others.

  • Make a list of all your tasks – this is the first and most important step. Understanding all of your responsibilities and expectations is key to being productive at work and truly resting when away from the office. I do this every week and in many cases more than once as more responsibilities are added to my plate or new projects initiated.
  • Identify deadlines – this is crucial for ranking your tasks in a list of to-do’s. Whether self-imposed or given to you, knowing your deadlines allows you to be in control of your work load with a sense that you dictate the order of your tasks.
  • Being realistic to oneself and others – don’t be fooled by this tip as in today’s worlds we all want to be heroes with the sense that the busier we are the more important and more impactful we tend to be; what a lie. Being realistic allows you the peace to know you are doing your best and engaging yourself and others around you with clear expectations of the work you are doing. Being realistic has required me to ask for deadline extensions or assistance from peers. And don’t be shocked, recently I even have said no to certain requests. I know some of you cringe at this but you know you need to do it as well.

The cool thing about these tips is that they can help at work and at home. Whether you are finishing projects at work or planning a Christmas party, these tips allow you to remain motivated and eliminate your stress.

As part of the vision for 2motive8, be on the lookout for work and career related posts with the category #MotivateAtWork.

Selling Motivation II

It’s a new day and whatever it is you are doing today, the sense of selling and motivation go hand in hand (see my earlier post). Whether you are starting something new or following a preset plan, how you approach it can make a difference. That is why selling is so important.

The word “selling” is so many times viewed incorrectly because of the association of lies. The reality is that true selling should be no more than a sense of intrinsic desire to share, to offer what is good. But what is good for one party is not always good for another, and the financial associations of the word have led to the lies built up over generations which give it a bad connotation. However, when done right it has huge potential for positive outcome. What “selling” ads is the passion and desire that so many of us lack when reaching for our dreams. An excitement that propels you to do whatever it takes to be successful. Folks that work in sales know this. You long for the next call; to meet the next prospect. We need to use this transferable energy to other parts of our lives.

I see this through my work, but also through the relationships I have created. What are you trying to sell and is it good? If so, I’ll jump on it – that product, that idea, that movement. The reason why someone will buy the widget or follow that leader is mostly about inspiration and less about value. But if you link both, the results are amazing. Still, the real power is in the energy you have when approaching each step towards reaching your goals.

Take today as an opportunity to show that passion. Believe in yourself and believe in your skills. You can do this.