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Posts from November 2012


--- At a recent press conference, NASA scientists addressed rumors surrounding the Mayan calendar. Scientists say people misinterpret the end of a certain cycle on the calendar to mean the world will end on December 21st, 2012, and that Mayan scholars say the Mayans would not have interpreted the date to signal the apocalypse. Scientists addressed popular rumors such as: a rogue planet will collide with earth and kill everyone, and the danger of killer solar flares. Scientists say neither of those issues are a concern, and that the greatest threat to Earth in the foreseeable future is from the human race itself. (Huffington Post) So, just in case you thought you could escape those end of the month bills, better think again!
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Bacon scented shaving cream?

Today is the launch of J&D’s Bacon Shaving Cream! It’s the world’s 1st bacon-scented cream available on-line ONLY for a limited time. It’s in short supply, costing less than 15 bucks. And of course, it’s proudly made in America! So, would you like for your man’s chinney-chin-chin to smell like bacon; or your legs to smell like Bacon, what about your underarms!? YUM or not? Bacon Shaving Cream is said to be a high end, luxurious bacon-scented shaving cream for all skin types. It is best used after a hot shower or before an important date with someone you may want to spend the rest of your life with. What about you? Would you want some? Huh; I just may after all! I’m getting hungry!
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Here’s the deal! French and Swedish researchers find exposure to blue light may improve alertness in night drivers as much as a cup of coffee. The blue light exposure is known to stop the secretion of melatonin; that’s the hormone that causes sleepiness, into the body. Researchers had a group of volunteers drive at night 3 different nights. During each of the nights the volunteers were given coffee, or were exposed to continuous blue light. Researchers found that drinking caffeinated coffee and exposure to blue light both improved driving alertness about the same amount. (Daily Mail) Give me coffee anyday! There’s just something about the smell that I LOVE; maybe even more than the coffee itself. And besides, whenever I see a blue light, I think of “get ready K-Mart Shoppers, we have a Blue Light Special on Aisle 9.”
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Wait! Should You Respond To That RFP?

Several of my clients are frequently asked to submit a proposal in order to be considered as the supplier for an upcoming project.   I believe that before proceeding, several questions should be asked, the most important of which are listed here.

Is this a real opportunity for you or just an exercise for them to internally justify their current supplier?   Who is their current supplier?  Why are they considering making a change?  Will that new manager really take a chance and allow a change with a provider early in his tenure?  What criteria will they use to determine which supplier to work with?   How will price factor in?  Why would they bring in a new supplier when that represents change and change is hard?  

What are the odds of your winning the business?  You should have a good sense of this based on your previous conversations and tracked history of success with the company.  At some point, it becomes futile to continue to work at acquiring business you have little chance of getting, no matter how sexy it seems.  Get input from your team, define these parameters, and stick to them.  

What lines have you established that you absolutely won’t cross to win business?
Are these clearly defined and in writing?  Is your entire team aware of those lines and do they buy in to them and uphold them unreservedly?  Are there exceptions that you’d be willing to make, and if so, in which circumstances?  

What other filters do you have in place to determine your opportunity costs?
How much time will your team have to devote to complete the required specs by the due date? One of my prospects is constantly in the middle of answering rfp requests and, since they’re relatively small, these requests consume most of the owner’s time.  If management needs to be involved, how will their shift in focus affect the team?  To what extent will team members need to be involved?  Will their personal time be impacted?  What other projects will have to be put on hold while the proposal is completed?   What will management have to delegate and how will that affect others?

Is this upfront work a financial investment or expense?  That depends on why you’ve determined it’s important to respond.  Being a go-to provider for a large manufacturing company may sound ideal in theory yet not be in practice.  Do you have the only or best turnkey solution?  Are you helping them create the specs?  Do you need to leverage that relationship to gain other business and credibility in the market?  Does your team agree with your rationale?  Thoroughly review all of the costs you’ll incur if you’re selected, making sure your desired profits can be met.

We all need to generate new business.   Let’s be sure we’re spending our time and resources productively on the opportunities that best fit our business models and allow us to attain the short and long-term profits we desire and deserve.
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4 Things You Will Never Learn in Your Comfort Zone

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. – Henry David Thoreau

The year was 1947 and to date no one had broken the sound barrier. Most believed that it could not be done. Some argued that the sound barrier was a literal wall that once hit at 760 mph would destroy a plane. But despite the skeptics and critics there remained a committed group of people devoted to the cause of breaking the barrier.

A young pilot by the name of Chuck Yeager was invited to be the one to break the sound barrier. Colonel Body, his superior, said, “Nobody knows for sure what happens until somebody gets there. Chuck, you’ll be flying into the unknown.” On October 14, 1947, Yeager broke the sound barrier. He later wrote, “I was thunderstruck. After all the anxiety, breaking the sound barrier turned out to be a perfectly paved speedway. After all the anticipation it was really a letdown. The ‘unknown’ was a poke through Jell-O.”

Comfort zones have a tendency to lull us into thinking that out fears are justified and average is acceptable. “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point,” said C.S. Lewis. Comfort zones are the testing points of leadership. As a leader, here are five things you will never learn if you remain in your comfort zone.

The depth of your talent. You will never fully discover the depth of your talent if you are not willing to grow to a place where more is required. If your talent brought you to the place where you are today then contentment will keep you there. Is that acceptable to you? The better practice of leadership is to discover the depth of your talent by embracing the advice of Brian Tracy who said, “You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable with  trying something new.”

The reach of your potential. The greatest obstacle to breaking the sound barrier was not engineering but attitude. It was the perceptions of comfortable people. You will never fully reach your potential so long as small thinking makes you comfortable. The better practice of leadership is to be surrounded with people who believe that breaking barriers and overcoming the odds is all in a day’s work.

The reward of your risk. History records the names of risk-takers (Chuck Yeager, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, Bill Gates, etc.) who, in the face of overwhelming odds made a determination that the restrictions of the comfort zone was just not for them. Risk-takers are a peculiar people who had rather fail at something big than succeed at something small. The better practice of leadership is to count the cost of exceptional leadership and dare to change the world.

The power of your dreams. Comfort zones tend to put a lid on dreams. Why dream if you are not willing to take risks and explore the depths of your talent and abilities to achieve it? However, when you unleash your dreams you open yourself to new possibilities reserved for those who have escaped the predictable and the expectations of the ordinary.  The better practice of leadership is courage. When others discourage you or talk about invisible walls that do not exist, you can go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you have imagined.

The challenge for you is to get uncomfortable with the comfortable and comfortable with the uncomfortable. Your growth as a leader depends on it.

© 2012 Doug Dickerson
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