Archive for October, 2009

A Marriage “Happens” After the Wedding

October 28, 2009
I left for Canada yesterday to meet with the Leadership of the Halifax Regional Municipality in Halifax, Nova Scotia.   Even though it required Lea to wake up before 4:30 AM to bring mWeddingBellse to the airport, that’s exactly what she did.  I joke that we’ve been happily married for 15 years, and 15 out of 22 ain’t bad.   But, seriously, I love being married and one thing we love to do together is attend the weddings of our friends and family members.
As a man, I am always amazed at the detail, preparation and enormous focus that goes into planning the wedding.  Everything has to go “just right”…  They want an INCREDIBLE wedding day.  My prayer is always that the couple has AT LEAST thought about preparing for the marriage itself.    =)
In business, I see the same phenomenon occurring… our focus is on what’s NEW… what’s EXCITING…  We prepare for the LAUNCH of our businesses, but often find ourselves surprised by the effort it takes to sustain and grow it.  We spend a great deal of time and effort in “hiring the RIGHT employees,” often without a plan to developing our existing team.  We focus on getting NEW clients or customers, without going back to our existing client base to look for more ways to serve them.  We purchase new curriculum or implement new strategies, without taking a long, hard look at what is currently working.
This week, I am focusing on going back to the basics…. I am prepared to come along side my clients, my roundtable members, and my own team to develop opportunities (and an ideal environment) for GROWTH.  I invite you to join me!

How to Reinvent in a Dying Industry

October 21, 2009

I once read a very astute marketing consultant’s opinion of the newspaper industry.  He concluded that it was a “dying industry” and commented that “not since the town crier deliveNewspaperred the news” had he seen an industry truly facing extinction.  I agree that the industry is facing extinction… but ONLY if they don’t do something NOW to become as indispensable and relevant as they were in their industry “prime”.  And to be sure, the newspaper industry doesn’t stand alone in their need for reinvention and relevance.

While the dinosaurs may not have been able to escape their own extinction, today’s organizations are run by people… individuals who were created with the ability to reason, to create, and to navigate obstacles…. Individuals whose potential will never go “extinct”.
If you are leading an organization, association, business or INDUSTRY that looks with “dread” towards the future, I encourage you to do three things:
1) ACKNOWLEDGE REALITY.   Acknowledge (in detail and specifics) the top three challenges you are facing – no matter how daunting they appear.
2) ASK THE RIGHT QUESTION.  Ask yourself this one question, and spend some time journaling (if alone) or brainstorming (if in a group): Given what we are up against, what do we want to CREATE?
3) CULTIVATE SUPERIOR FOCUS.  Focus, when strategically applied to an (even daunting) obstacle, has the power to penetrate and expose.  FOCUS on HOW you can achieve RELEVANCE and be viewed as an INDISPENSABLE resource to the customers or clients you serve.  What specifically can you do?
Finally, ponder the word “REINVENTION” and set out to create something brand new.  If you (and your team) limit your focus to “reasonable” or “realistic” improvements in your current circumstance, you will stifle your ability to make a profound difference.  So DREAM BIG, but commit to ACTING SMALL.

Tougher Than The Times, Archive, Rolfe Carawan, Leadership, Keynote Speaker

October 20, 2009

Tougher Than The Times, Archive, Rolfe Carawan, Leadership, Keynote Speaker

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Actually, they were thinking of ME!

October 15, 2009

If you are “TiVo-ing” your favorite shows and skipping the commercials, you may be saving TIME, but losing a lot of opportunities to LEARN (and see me running across the screen during Monday Night Football!  Well, actually, I was in a Ford commercial that played during the game, but I digress…) Commercials (and print  or radio advertisements) can tell us a lot about peopleNFL… something we can never learn enough about.

Our success at work is dependent upon people, our happiness at home involves other people, our government’s policies and decisions are made by (and supposedly for) the PEOPLE.  The more we know about how people “work” … what they want…. what they hope for… what they lack…. what they worry about… the better off we will be in all areas of our lives.

This morning I ran across an ad for the 2010 Ford Transit Connect. Their tag lines “they were thinking of me” and  “specific for everyone” is perfect, and I suspect it will be profitable for them.  Why?  Because in a culture dominated by MASS PRODUCTION, GENERIC POLICIES, and ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL solutions, we are desperate for someone to talk (even MARKET) directly to US…

I speak a lot about our “sovereign foundation” and honoring ourselves as part of our own “success equation”.  The reason we all have different fingerprints isn’t just so we can be identified when we commit a crime.  We are so different from each other in so many ways, shaped by both NATURE and NURTURE, and we crave focused, specific-to-us communication.   (You’d be shocked at how similar we are as well… but that is for another blog! )

It’s a great lesson we can learn from the marketing team over at Ford… a lesson we can (and should) apply at home, at work, at the gym, and on the street.  If you commit to slowing down and speaking to every person you meet in a more specific, focused way…. I think you will be shocked at how (almost instantly) your income, your influence, your happiness, and your ability to produce results improves.  If I have spoken specifically to YOU in this blog, please email me and let me know!  I would love to hear from you!

Easy Comes with a Risk

October 8, 2009

EasybuttonWatching a recent Staples commercial, I was again amazed at our culture’s fascination with the “EASY” button.  Commercials promise EASY (no diet, no exercise) weight loss, EASY (dollars while you sleep) money, and EASY health “fixes” in terms of the latest and greatest pills.

In fact, I want to challenge you to LISTEN to these “prescription” commercials with a new purpose.  IGNORE the “EASY” part… the part that promises instant and life-changing results.   Instead, I want you to pay attention to the “warnings”… you know, the part of the commercial in which they begin to speak really quickly.  This is when they “caution” you about the REAL risks of the drug they are pedaling.  “The risks / side effects can include heart attack, irregular menstrual cycles, and, oh yeah… DEATH.”  I’m paraphrasing, of course.

But the truth is that EASY comes with a RISK.  The risk of NO RESISTANCE is a lack of growth.  The RISK of far too easy credit is a national financial crisis.  The RISK of “blanket” tolerance is a lack of standards.  The RISK of not allowing anyone to FAIL is in the creation of an environment in which no one wins, either.  The RISK of “taking it easy” is the INABILITY to get TOUGHER THAN THE TIMES.

I am already writing a sequel to the soon –to-be-released fable:  Run to the Roar:  A Fable of Choice, Courage, and Hope. It will focus on the COURAGE of our CONVICTIONS.  As I write this book, I am reminded that our nation was built by a people that would have ruthlessly questioned (the existence of and need for) an “EASY” button.  Our American ancestors didn’t seek, hope, yearn for, NOR expect to find an “EASY” route.  They expected that life would be tough at times.  Their commitment was to be TOUGHER than the TIMES.

And sometimes… just sometimes… our greatest moments are in the “tough times”… our greatest accomplishments…. our greatest growth… our greatest contributions…

Effective Managers Learn How to Discriminate

October 2, 2009
CommunicationOf course, I am not advocating a hate-based, or ignorant habit of discriminating against those you are trying to lead.  But, if you are communicating in the SAME WAY to EVERYONE under your leadership, you will not be as effective as you could be if you began to use some knowledgeable “discrimination” in how you communicate.
Here is what I am saying:  YOU and everyone you work with comes to work with their own personality and communication style.  Whether this has been developed as a result of “nature” or “nurture” or some combination of the two really doesn’t matter.  What DOES matter is your willingness to acknowledge that personality and communication styles DO IMPACT a leader’s ability to accomplish results through others.
Once you accept this as fact, the first step in using “communication discrimination” to your advantage is to learn more about personalities and communication styles.   (For a complimentary podcast, contact my assistant at
Next, acknowledge your own personality tendencies and communication style, and make it a habit to recognize the same in others under your leadership.  The quickest way to develop rapport with those on your team is to made a concerted effort to minimize the stark differences between their style and your own.
When we speak and treat everyone the SAME – in the way we communicate – we will fall way short in our ability to tap into the potential of those we lead.