“Leaders Made Here” Book Review


I believe this is the fifth book review I have done for one of Mark Miller‘s “short and sweet” leadership titles.  While the perspective and the details shift from book to book, the universe which Mark shares with us remains consistently reality-based and believable.  

This time around, a leader once again faces  significant personal challenges, at the same time as they are tasked with the responsibility for creating a leadership culture in an organization.  The premise is compelling and I was reminded once again of the role of compassion in the workplace, especially since we have started to focus more and more on the diverse personalities we find in our workplaces, each with their own stories and their own personal and professional challenges.

As in life, everyone does not use the same approach or come to the same conclusions, other than a few shining principles featured toward the end of this short book.   Actually, we notice regularly throughout that everyone does not have to and should not agree to the same approaches or tools.   We are different from each other in many ways, and each person has to decide the ways that work best for them.

As always, Mark uses narrative style to effectively describe both people, places, and processes.  I have not always been a strong fan of narrative style, but Mark is steadily making a believer out of me.  He manages to pack quite a bit of learning and thought-provoking activity into each short chapter.  A few examples of his pithy  and direct phrasing are also sprinkled around this post.

My personal favorite section was the slow uncovering of the essential principles from the primary character’s exploration of effective leadership development at several different workplaces.   Rather than jump directly into the final list, we see  the “messier” work of a group of intelligent people grappling with how best to organize their learning and convey the core of that learning to others in a clear, simple, and effective way.

This is how real teams create outcomes, but many leadership books tend to treat this part of leadership like a miracle … the finished statements just magically appear.  Not so in Mark’s book and we are the better for it.

I could say many other positive things about Leaders Made Here, but at this point, you get my message:  This is another in a hopefully never-ending series of short and easy-to-read leadership books that brings great value in an attractive and engaging fashion.

Don’t believe me?   Read the book and draw your own conclusions … I’ll wait:)

 

Disclaimer:  I have received a copy of this book for promotion, just like all the other times.  I have also purchased extra copies to distribute to others, just like all the other times.

ABOUT MARK MILLER (from his website)

Mark Miller began writing over decade ago when he teamed up with Ken Blanchard on The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do. In 2011, he released The Secret of Teams, outlining the key principles that enable some teams to outperform the all the rest. Great Leaders Grow: Becoming a Leader for Life came next in 2012, followed by The Heart of Leadership in October 2013, the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Secret in September 2014, and Chess Not Checkers: Elevate Your Leadership Game in April 2016.

This spring, his latest book, Leaders Made Here, tackles the issue of creating a leadership culture in a company. Readers will again follow Blake as he encounters some of his greatest challenges yet — making sure he is growing leaders who can take the company into the future. With more than 700,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.

TO read even more about Mark and his remarkable journey, click here …

 

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Life Lessons in Narrative Form …


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I DID NOT PLAN TO LIKE THIS BOOK …

At first glance, Lilac Dreams seemed a bit self-absorbed to me and did not seem to have much of a point.  Just another life story of hard times early on, followed by success later.  The hard times are not the worse I have heard of or even experienced myself, and the successes, while commendable, are not the stuff of empires and sweeping changes.

No, this is just a story about a person who grew up at a particular time, in particular circumstances, and who persevered, learning a few things along the way.  Imagine my surprise when I slowly became engrossed in one small chapter after another, finding familiar scenes and valuable life lessons in abundance.

Three things to share that I ended up liking about Bonnie’s book:

NOSTALGIA …

The author is roughly the same age as I am, so the scenes of youth, especially the schoolrooms and the neighborhoods, were familiar.  I found myself “adapting” each of her well-painted vignettes to my own experiences as a naive and insecure child and adolescent, and found comfort in the thought that maybe we all are really more alike than we are different.

Nostalgia can be something we wallow in, bewailing an imagined better time, or it can be a pleasant reminder of where we come from.  I found myself pleasantly remembering past events to which I have no desire to return.

RICH DETAIL …

I will admit that the rich detail with which places and people are described in almost every story was not my first favorite thing about this book.  However, as I said earlier, I became drawn into the era and the lives that live through this book.  Sometimes the detail evoked memories and others times, it created images upon which to gaze.

Detail in writing can get in the way or it can inflame our ability to “see” what the author is sharing … in this case, the writing is definitely a positive attribute.

HOW OUR LIVES ARE SHAPED …

As I moved through small experience after small experience, I was struck by how relatable Bonnie’s story should be to most of us.  There is pain in some places, hope in others, and a strong sense of how the author has developed her own internal strength from what she has experienced.

After all, we all live our lives mostly in small doses, easily shard with others through a series of small stories, especially when well written.  Short accounts of the daily times of our lives often become valuable in retrospect.

So read this book patiently, move through it with an open mind, and I believe that you will find much to reflect on in your own Lilac Dreams.

Loving this book more than I imagined I would in the Heartland …

John

DISCLAIMER:  I received a copy of Lilac Dreams for review.  If you think this was enough to make me say nice things about it, you don’t know me very well. 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:    Bonnie C. Hathcock has over 35 years of experience in corporate America. For most of those years, she held C-suite positions at the top of Fortune 100 and 200 corporations. Bonnie began her career at Xerox Corporation, where she spent a decade learning world-class marketing concepts.

Her business and marketing acumen eventually caught the attention of a high-ranking executive from Siemens A.G., who promoted Bonnie to the position of vice president of human resources for one of the largest Siemens companies in the United States. Bonnie would eventually be promoted to vice president of Human Resources for US Airways, and senior vice president of Human Resources for Humana Inc.   … READ MORE ABOUT BONNIE ON HER WEBSITE

 

 

 

 

By The Numbers: January Housing Report and Outlook for St. Louis Area


” … St. Louis will sustain this momentum – powered by a solid economy in combination with balanced, affordable housing.” (press release by St. Louis Realtor’s Association on February 21, 2017

 

The recent numbers for housing are down in some categories and up in others, but overall the St. Louis housing market is poised for another strong year.

But don’t just take my word for it:

 

Our thoughts on hearing all this:

SELLERS:  If you are thinking about selling, now is a good time … if you are willing to let the market set your asking price and you will do what is necessary to offer a competitive property.   While the demand of buyers still far outweighs the number of homes for sale, an incorrectly priced house that does not show well is not a guaranteed sale.

BUYERS:  If you want to buy, you can still find mortgage rates reasonably low and if you are willing to prepare to be an attractive buyer, you can enjoy the right home at the right price.  The spring housing market always moves quickly, so those who prepare are those who will prevail.

The current statistics and predictions for the future have something for everyone to like.

For a PDF of all these numbers, CLICK HERE.

For the press release on St. Louis Realtor’s website which provides more detail, CLICK HERE.

Visit our websites to learn more:  Shah Smith, Realtor at shahsmith.cbphomes.com and John Smith, Realtor at johnsmith.cbphomes.com.

… or just give us a call.  We love to talk about residential housing, in St. Louis and wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

Serving Well Is A Covenant …


“To kalidescope-by-chip-bell-02-2017serve well is to enter into a covenant with a customer that guarantees worth will be exchanged for worth and in a way that keeps central the customer’s best interests.” (pg. 35)

So says Chip Bell and I could not agree more.  In his latest book, Kaleidoscope:  Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles, Bell uses the analogy of a child’s toy, a kaleidoscope, to illustrate some solid principles of effective customer service.  As in his earlier books, Chip’s words and phrases are pithy and colorful, with many easily memorable statements that just beg to be quoted and digested by those of us who care about such things.

I see several valuable points in that sentence at the head of this post, each of which guides us beyond the common and tired sayings about customer service, while helping us aspire to a much higher level of involvement:

SERVING INVOLVES COVENANT …

I have only worked in one organization where this word was regularly invoked to describe our relationship with each other and with those we served.  That non-profit provided help and comfort to the aged, families, and people in need.

To me, covenant indicates more than a promise, more than a guarantee … Covenant is a sacred duty to honor commitments and to treat others in an honorable way as you offer services and goods to them.

Covenant is also a relatively equalized relationship between you and another

WORTH EXCHANGES FOR WORTH …

Since we are talking about a relationship here, it makes perfect sense that we consider the values involves.  Most businesses run on a transactional model:  You give me something and I give you something in return.  Nothing wrong with this, as long as each person receives what they expected to receive.

Worth is another word that pushes us toward a higher level of engagement.  Worth goes beyond the mundane or trivial.  Worth means something of real value.   I offer my dollar bill and you give me an ice cream cone … we have completed a transaction.   I give you my dollar bill, and without being asked, you add sprinkles (yes, a nod to another Bell book), a genuine smile, and a cheery “Have a great day!“, and now we are talking worth.

THE CUSTOMER’S BEST INTERESTS ARE PRIMARY …

Not “The customer is always right” because they are not, and not that the customer can ask for or do anything, but here we have a clear reminder that we are in our business to serve the customer’s best interests.

As a realtor, I sometimes serve customers who have a well-designed list of needs and wants, price range, and vision for their ideal house … then  they fell in love with a fire pit (not on the original list) and all else goes away.  Their best interests are served by helping them move beyond the emotion of the moment to reconsider all the other things they said they had to have in the house they buy and to look at their decision from the financial perspective as well.  

Adding perspective to their decision may mean losing a higher commission, but I am serving my customer’s best interests.

Look at what I gained from reading just one page of one chapter in Kaleidoscope, and you might well think “Wow, if he can do that, I could gain so many more valuable insights from reading the whole thing” … and you would be absolutely right.  

Enjoying another great book from one of my favorite authors in the Heartland ….

John

chip-bell

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books.  Global Gurus ranked him both in 2014 and 2015 as the #1 keynote speaker in the world on customer service.  He has appeared live on CNN, CNBC, ABC, Fox Business Network, Bloomberg TV, and NPR; and his work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Forbes, USA Today, Fast Company, Money Magazine, Inc. Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Businessweek.

Images reposted with permission

Caveat:  I received a copy of this book for review prior to publication.  I now have a great stocking stuffer for family and colleagues this Christmas.

Guest Post: Serving It Forward by Chip Bell


Kalidescope by Chip Bell 02 2017.jpgAny post which starts with a lesson from one of my favorite films is sure to be full of thoughtful insights.  Any post by Chip Bell pretty much meets the Excellent Customer Service Thinking standard, whether he mentions a favorite film or not.

Chip’s latest book is Kaleidoscope – click the image to the left to learn more.

Chip is one of my most trusted sources of solid and engaging leadership thinking … enjoy the following slice, which provides my claim nicely:

 

Lawrence of Arabia won the academy award in 1962 for best picture. Given the current conflicts in the Middle East, I recently watched the four-hour movie to learn more about the cultural history of the area. Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence (played by best actor winner Peter O’Toole) was a British intelligence officer assigned to investigate the revolt of the Arabs against the Turks during World War I.  He embraced the culture and dress of the Arabs and organized a guerrilla army that for two years raided the Turks with surprise attacks.

In the early part of the movie, a poor Bedouin guide is hired to escort Lawrence across the desert to meet with Prince Faisal (played by Alec Guinness), the leader of the Arab revolt.  (Faisal would ultimately become King of Syria and King of Iraq pushing for unity between the Sunni and Shiite Muslims).  It was customary then for desert guides to be paid at the end of their assignment.  Instead, at the beginning of their journey, Lawrence gave his military pistol to the guide—a gift of great value and pleasure for any Bedouin.

What followed was a powerful example of “serving it forward.” The guide instantly gave Lawrence some of his food, provisions better suited to desert survival than the military rations Lawrence carried.  The guide then assumed a mentoring role revealing valuable desert survival secrets.  The timing of Lawrence’s unorthodox gift completely changed the dynamic of the relationship, with the Bedouin transforming him from “compliant servant” into “resourceful partner.”

Customer service is a reciprocal act.  Customers exchange money, time and effort for goods and services.  There are unwritten norms about how this mutual undertaking is performed.  Customers are expected to communicate their needs; service providers are expected to indicate whether they can meet those needs.  There are generally stated or implied expectations around speed, quality, cost, and so forth.  Both parties assume a modicum of respect; both assume the exchange will employ a measure of fair play.

Rosa’s Fresh Pizza in Philadelphia started getting a lot of publicity after their decision to sell single slices of pizza for a dollar. But it didn’t have to do with the price of the slice; it was about a customer-suggested idea for how to fund pizza for the homeless. It works like this: when customers buy pizza for themselves they put a dollar in a container, write a message on a Post-it note and stick it on the wall.  Any homeless person can come into the store, take a Post-it note off the wall and get a slice of pizza. Rosa’s has given away thousands of slices.

The principle of abundance is about giving more than is expected.  It is a proactive attitude of engulfing a relationship with emotional plenty without concern for reciprocity. An attitude of abundance is more the belief that if we employ a giver mentality, the customer will take care of the bottom line.   It is leading with an orientation of selflessness—of focusing on the customer first, not on the bottom line.  “Generosity,” wrote Khalil Gibran in The Prophet, “is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.”

Chip Bell.jpg

Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several national best-selling books.  His newest book is the just-released Kaleidoscope:  Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles.  He can be reached at chipbell.com.