Posts Tagged ‘Rolfe Carawan’

Drive-By Conversations

November 27, 2009
Today, I ran across an interesting article in Entrepreneur magazine:  “How Twitter is Revolutionizing Business 140 Characters at a time”.  What a concept.  Now, instead of “courting” our clients over lunch or dinner, we aim to never waste more than 14 0 characters (spaces included) to get our message across.  Instead of sit down conversations, we see people having conversations via a series of short tweets.
I do use twitter – follow me at – but not as a substitute for a conversation.  In fact, I aim to the opposite.  In business, as in families, churches, and government agencies, we are lacking human interaction.  We are missing out on the encouragement and support that can only be received when we are willing to spend T-I-M-E with those we hope to encourage.
In a world of quick interactions, rushed meetings on the go, and “drive by conversations”, I have committed to having more converSTAYtions.  Conversations that I am content to linger in, enjoy, and contribute to.  Conversations are the most powerful tool we have at our disposal – for marketing, for people development, for training, and for effective leadership –  and I am re-committed to making the most of each of them. I invite you to join me.

They Just Quit!

November 19, 2009
I have long spoken about generational differences within America’s workforce and the challenges – as well as the opportunities – a multi-generational workforce presents.   In this month’s Inc. Magazine, Penelope Trunk answered this question, “How can you tell if a member of Gen Y hates his or her boss?”  This was her response:

“You can’t.  This is a non-confrontational generation. They change politics by voting, not screaming in the streets.  And they change the workplace by quitting, rather than complaining.”

WOW!  If you are familiar with the $cost$ of employee turnover, you likely read that response feeling like you were just issued a solid punch in the gut. Now more than ever, we can’t afford for this generation’s talent, expertise and out-of-the-box thinking to walk away when small changes can keep them happily contributing to our organizations.  Here’s a great way to start:


  • Take a “coaching” approach to leadership and assume the best about the employee you are leading.
  • When addressing performance issues, approach employees with an open mind and an open ear – rather than a previously constructed solution to a problem they may not even have acknowledged yet.
  • Recognize there may be concerns they have not addressed and are unwilling to address in a face-to-face meeting with you.  As a leader, construct additional ways to garner feedback from those you lead.

Who is Your Favorite Chef?

November 13, 2009
Occasionally, I stumble across those “cooking shows” on television… the ones where a professional chef brings you into their kitchen and invites you to  cook a great meal with themChef – virtually, of course.  They show you the ingredients, and walk you through the recipe.  But most of all, I am struck with their passion for the dish… for the utensils… for the kitchen itself.  This is where these chefs live, love, and share.  It is where they thrive.
The worlds of business, ministry, politics and education also have these “chefs” who invite you into their world.  These “expert” chefs invite you in via books they’ve written (or recommended), conferences, blog posts, media appearances, and now even through “reality shows”.  As a student of human potential, I make a point to accept their invitation.  As with the cooking shows, I am most amazed not by the “solutions”, “tips” or “tools” these experts share, but in their passion… what keeps them going…. what motivates them.. and what demotivates them, as well.

Currently, these are the business “chefs” I am following: Ferdinand F. Fournies, author of “Coaching For Improved Work Performance” & “Why Employees Dont Do What They’re Supposed To Do”; Dr. Paul Brand & Philip Yancy, authors of “Fearfully & Wonderfully Made” ; “Fish!” by Lundin, Paul and Christiensen, and of course, my good friend and inspiring leader, Congressman Randy Forbes.

The RIGHT Strengths

November 3, 2009

j0432728Many management and leadership gurus are encouraging people to operate within their core strengths.  But, have you ever doubted whether your “sovereign foundation” included the RIGHT strengths to advance your career or your business?

Just the other day, a colleague was telling me about her highschool friend who grew up in a home with a very successful, military-minded father.  One of his brothers joined the Peace Corps before going to law school.  The other brother went to Virginia Military Institute and is an officer in the Navy.  This young man, though, didn’t seem to “fit” and, while he was very gifted in several areas, none of these more “artsy” or “soft” strengths seem to qualify.   To this day, he feels like he would have to be someone else entirely in order to gain his parent’s acceptance. I can relate.

So, what about you?  Do your strengths “not qualify” at work? At home?  At church?   While there may be NO existing outlet in your life for your strengths to be showcased, there is no law against creating one!!  What do others regularly say you are “a natural” at doing?  What are you doing when you “forget the time” because you enjoy it so much?  Why not ACTIVELY look for an opportunity to operate out of THIS strength?

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.

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.

A 22 Year Profitable Relationship

September 4, 2009


It’s the perfect Sunday afternoon.  The couch is comfortable, the snacks appetizing and the game’s a close one.  As I plop into the sofa, remote in hand, I no sooner flip the game on, than I feel my wife, Lea’s hovering presence in the room.  Completely engrossed in the head-banging, I do my best to ignore her.  The hovering presence, however, keeps hovering, and I soon realize she isn’t planning on leaving.

“Everything ok, honey?” I ask half-heartedly.  One look from Lea and I realize my football watching is finito.  But, being the wonderful husband I am, I graciously turn the game off to focus all my love and attention to my lovely bride.  (Granted, we have TiVo, so all I did was hit the pause button, but that’s beside the point.)

I immediately face Lea and snap into my counseling mode.  I’m nodding my head profusely, making eye contact and making appropriate gestures, when mid-way through pouring her heart out, she stops.

“Forget it, we’ll just talk about this later,” she says, abruptly.

“What, what did I do?” I say, feeling wrongfully accused; I had been doing everything a trained counselor is supposed to do.

“Just forget it; she says more adamant than before”

Exasperated I say, “But I’m right here. I’m looking you right in the eye. I’m listening!”

“You don’t care.”

“What?!  I have to care, too?”

I was flabbergasted.  I had been doing all the right things.  I stopped watching the football game, nodded my head and even made eye contact!  But that was just it; I was just going through the motions and Lea saw right through the façade.  Behind the glazed over look and empty head nods, she knew I wasn’t listening.

It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of life and miss out on relationship.  We pass by people with fake smiles and a rhetorical, “How are you?” when we don’t really want to know.

So, in response to my question, yes, we DO have to stop and care.  Investing in relationships, whether it be family, friends or co-workers, will always pay off.  Sometimes we just need to slow down and make the deposit.

ACN – Ingenuity in Tough Times

August 24, 2009

ACNWhat if you discovered electricity? What if you had known about the internet before it exploded? What if you were privy to technology’s latest and greatest advancement before anyone else?  Imagine.

In today’s spiraling rat race in technology, very rarely someone paints a picture with a sheer stroke of entrepreneurial genius.  But every once in a while, a stroke is made and a business born.  This time ACN holds the coveted paintbrush.  ACN has emerged as an undeniable leader in the telecommunications industry, as the largest direct seller of telecommunications and home services in the world.  This up and coming company got its stamp of approval from the man himself – Donald Trump, and was even featured on his last season of Celebrity Apprentice.  What’s their secret?  What the business world has been waiting for…the videophone.

Awarded “The Success Award” in the July/August issue of Direct Selling News, for “reinventing their business building tools for ACN representatives,” their future has only gotten brighter.  This company offers something 100% of Americans use every day – phone, web, security and now VIDEOPHONE services. They hit the jackpot of all marketplaces. Their product is practical and they are relevant.

Forward thinking entrepreneurs have joined the ACN opportunity and one local representative has taken it to the next level, literally.  Promoted to a Team Coordinator in just 4 months, international superstar Art Sandler is definitely not joining the recession.  His generosity, work ethic on behalf of others, and perseverance through the tough stuff is a true testament to the quality of ACN representatives.

In the face of tough economic times, innovative, forward thinking pays off.  So pick up the paintbrush and make a stroke.  Even Donald Trump agrees.

Check out the videophone for yourself at