Thursday, March 27, 2008

How Do I Hold on To What I Have During This Bad Economy?

Headlines are reading, "The Sky Is Falling," you hear bad news about houses not selling, you read about companies laying off thousands of workers and you might want to...panic.

But there is a better way to deal with today's economy. You see for everything there is a polar opposite. Your job is to zig when everyone else zags. Your job is to find the opportunities that are probably sitting right in front of you.

The difficulty is that in an economy like we face today, doing what you have done in the past will no longer suffice. In today's economy those companies that have excellence as their base rather than as the star they try to reach are the ones that will succeed. If people are going to spend money they won't accept mediocre, they won't accept marginal, they will be pickier. So that means you have to be sharper. You have to be exceptional. You have to produce results, not busy work.

Today's economy is not one to be feared, if you are performing at top standards, if you have systems in place and if you are dedicated to customer success, not customer satisfaction. The best asset you have in your corporation is the people. Yet so many companies look at today's economy and look at how to cut expenses. That is a dying path if it is done solo. What you need to do is look at how to explode opportunities, how to differentiate and how to build a corporate culture that gets every person to give 110% to their job with a positive and optimistic attitude.

What will get you to to excel in today's economy is how you think. Does your company take appropriate risks? Do you have people making decisions on their knowledge and experience? If so, you are in for scary times because much of what you may face will be situations and opportunities that you have never faced before. This requires you to be able to apply Critical Thinking to make decisions rather than just knowledge and experience. Just basing it on knowledge and experience will cause you to freeze up, gather too much data rather than take action, and make decisions that you later say, "I didn't anticipate... or I should have seen..."

Take action today to make this economy the best you can for your company. Now is the time to invest in developing top level strategic thinking and execution that is based in excellence. It means letting go of the past and trying things in a new way to create new opportunities.

For those fearless people, today's economy is one that is ripe with opportunity and growth. It is more of a cleansing than a drowning. A time to come out refreshed, renewed, and recharged.

May you go forth and have a great Outcome Focus Day Filled With Results!

Anne Warfield,

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I will be brief- It is all in the DEBRIEF

Okay, you walk in the room. You think you have the presentation nailed and then nothing. Nothing. You don't hear from the client at all. Or worse yet, in the middle of the presentation you realize something is wrong but you don't know what.

The reality is that no matter how good of a presenter you are there will be times that the presentation won't result in the outcome you were looking for. This could be due to many things-wrong timing, wrong person in room, concept too hard for them to understand, concept doesn't hit a compelling pain for them, you position it in the wrong way, or they simply aren't ready to buy.

What is in your control is something so valuable yet I find that less than 5% of my clients use it at all! Yet it is the one thing that can really help you open the next door.

It is the DEBRIEF. After every meeting, whether it went the way you wanted or not, you should debrief using a fine tuned process. We walk clients through a 7 step process to debrief after their meetings, presentations, and negotiations so they can assure themselves better success next time. My theory is, if you don't learn from your mistakes what is the use in making them? They are a ripe ground to learn, grow, and stretch. Sometimes it is something as small as the word choice you use that throws off the deal. Changing a word from "critical" to "strategic" can sometimes suddenly make what you are saying meaningful to them.

In most companies you don't celebrate the failures and mistakes, only the successes. This means people learn to NOT make mistakes but not to IMPROVE on how they do things. If you are improving you will be making mistakes and correcting as you go. Thus all in your office should be open to DEBRIEF all that you do so you continue to move toward WOW status.

Now you also need to have a formal DEBRIEF for the successes as well. You need to be acutely aware of what drove that success in the first place. If you don't document and analyze it you will learn create a repeatable, scalable process that others can use to ensure consistent results.

Remember 'what you do not measure, you can't understand. And what you can't understand, you can not change." Take action and start learning from mistakes and successes.

Anne Warfield,

Friday, March 21, 2008

Training: Diet Pill or Exercise and Healthy Eatting?

Today we received in the mail 3 brochures on training for an Outstanding Receptionist, 4 on How to deliver expectational Customer Service, and 4 on the Ultimate Supervisor. All programs were 1/2 day to full day for $129 to $149 per person.

I shake my head when I think of the thousands companies invest on these programs only to find the receptionist still continues the irritating habits they thought the Outstanding receptionist would rid her of, the call center still has people being rude to clients even after attending "how to deliver exceptional customer service" and the Ultimate Supervisor returns to resort to their regular behavior.

Why? Because these programs are like diet pills. Quick fixes that don't address the long-term problems of what you got you there in the first place. Even with dieting- whether it be NutriSystem, Jenny Craig or others, the ultimate success in sustaining comes from those who embed exercise and healthy eating in their diets. In other words, they may get there start with NutriSystem or Jenny Craig but they get their lasting power in significant and permanent change in lifestyle.

So why do we believe training will be any different? I can't tell you how many companies call us asking if we can train senior executives on how to present well in a 1/2 day module. Okay, how many years do you think they have had with poor presentation skills and why do you believe a 1/2 a day will give lasting results? Yes, in a 1/2 a day we can jump start them, but how will you keep them going? What systems does your company already have in place? Am I rewarded or penalized for coming up with solutions that are different than usually expected? If I am penalized, you can bet that no matter how intriguing the training is, I will go back to the style that is rewarded by my company.

Let's get rid of diet tricks, instant pills and instant solutions. Instead ask yourself, if you have solutions that speak to who your people need to be in order to do what they need to do. Do you make it easy on them to understand what needs to change, why it needs to change and how to make that change long-lasting.

Much training today is offered at a bargain price but when you look at it, it has no lasting value. Go for the gym membership that gives you access to a lifetime of successful habits!

Anne Warfield,

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Do Ehics Only Count When People Are Looking?

The other day I went to a restaurant and ordered soup and sandwich. I started chatting with the employee ringing up my order. It was after I had paid that it came out that I was a friend of one of her coworkers. At this point she smiled at me and said, "here is a cookie for you."

What do you do? I know she was trying to be friendly but the cookies were for purchase, not give away. They were wrapped in cellophane even! To me that was stealing if the company didn't have a policy that they could give away cookies. I also was in the tough spot of not wanting to be ungrateful to my friends coworker.

So I smiled and said, "that is kind of you but I am on a diet. I hope you have a great day." And I left the cookie. To me ethics aren't only when the world is watching but they are the guidelines you live your life by. Ask yourself how strong are your ethics?

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Going Beyond the Obvious

I was going to be a lawyer. I knew since I was 13 that I wanted to own my business and had determined it would be as a lawyer. I took the LSAT, passed the test and was set for law school. Then I heard that all these companies would be coming on campus to conduct job interviews. Well, I started thinking, "wouldn't it be better to job interview now and learn those skills rather than wait until I graduated from Law School?"

So I signed up for every and any interview. Most interviews I was not qualified for because I was an English Major and they wanted Economic Majors or Business Majors. I signed up for the interviews because I wanted to become comfortable interviewing. When I got to the interviews the interviewers were a little ticked. Most pointed out that I did not meet the minimum requirements of the job as they posted it. Their words and body language pretty much told me they thought I was an idiot for wasting their time since I couldn't even read a job positing correctly.

And then I said something and what I said caused them to nod their head and grant the interview. Little did I know how powerful that little something was and how few people grasp its importance. In the interview I then demonstrated, not my job skills, but my thinking skills- a far more valuable asset and one most companies adore seeing.

Then the job offers started to pore in. Those same companies that sneered at me before the interview started offered me jobs. I started soul searching back then to answer the question all my friends put to me- Why are they offering you jobs you are not qualified for and we, with the right degree, are not getting the offers?

Now I am so excited because we have put all of the magic of interviewing in to one easy to use system. Every Professional should have a chance to shine and show what they can do. I can't wait to unleash it to all of you! Coming soon....

My point with this is that it was not my technical skills that got me the job offers. Yet technical skills were all the companies posted as the minimum you needed to have even to be granted an interview. But I knew the technical skills were what was easiest for them to measure, not what was most relevant to the job.

Do you know how to make what you say relevant to the other person? An interview is just a time to test your on the spot thinking capabilities. Do you know how to tie two opposing thoughts so they lead to a new option? It is all in the congruent thinking. Test yours today.

And if you need help developing this skill, watch for our upcoming new interviewing system that will help you do just that!

PS. If you are interested in getting your hands on the Outcome Focus Interviewing System email us at

Anne Warfield,

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patty's Day

I love St. Patty's Day. Since I have been a little girl it has been a day to wear all green, eat green pancakes and drink green orange juice. To this day, it is a tradition I keep with my kids.

One year I tried green eggs- really looks like moldy eggs. I wouldn't recommend it. Another year we even had green milk, green potatoes, green chicken (I steamed it in green water), green jellow, and green angel food cake. And of course, what goes in, most come out. It was an interesting night!

Traditions are the thinks that we weave in to our life and they give it meaning. Some are good and some we hate and can't wait to change. I often wonder what changes we have today that our kids will keep going with and which ones they will drop.

So, to all of you---Happy St. Patty's Day!

Anne Warfield,

Friday, March 14, 2008

Creating Critical Thinkers

So why is it so hard to create Critical Thinkers in an organization? And is a Critical Thinker the same as a Strategic Thinker?

There has never been a more important time to be a Critical Thinker than today. Critical Thinkers have the ability to grasp complex situations, throw out irrelevant data, bring relevant data forward and hold two opposing thoughts at the same time so they can combine things in unique ways to create solutions that never existed before. They usually do things on the fly, verbally and constantly question. Critical Thinkers do well in HiTech HiTouch worlds as they are comfortable with change and decisions on the fly. Critical Thinkers are also able to be Strategic Thinkers.

Strategic Thinkers often base their decisions on their knowledge and experience. They may use Critical Thinking in making their decisions but at other times they may not. They think about the present and how to get to the future while Critical Thinkers often think about the future and how to link it to the present.

So the ability to be a Critical Thinker is something you want all leaders to have in your company. With more and more companies operating in a horizontal culture you can't afford to have leaders acting first and thinking second. You need them to all operate in a way that is scalable and sustainable.

Anne Warfield,

Creating a Recession Proof Career

Yesterday I had a client ask me how they should handle relationships in the office as the company reorganized. Last week Yahoo let go thousands of people and today there is talk that Citigroup may let 20,000 people go. It is scary times.

Yet it can also be exhilirating times. These are the times that cause great differentiation in people, opportunities and companies. Distinguish yourself in the workplace is one of the hardest things people find to do. When you focus on typical techniques of bragging, grand standing or looking out for "numero one," an environment is created that deteriorates trust, creates silos, and destroys teamwork.

So I don't teach people how to do that in our seminars. What we show is how to excelorate your thinking so that you stand out as a key asset or glue in the organization. People start to see you as a critical piece of the overall mission and a connector to other vital pieces. You are able to move people to a 5th dimension of thinking so the team stops operating at a low "safety" level and starts moving at a more strategic level.

Even job interviewing is something you can do using this skill and not brag, boast or come across as conceited. You will see this yourself when you get your hands on the Outcome Focus Interviewing System. People are scared by all the loss of jobs out there. The reality is that if you think at a high enough level you can create opportunties that don't exist today. It begs you to ask are opportunties random or are they created by our energy, thought, and skills?

During a reorg I find the entire teams energy gets focused on who will be let go, what changes will happen and how will they affect me? Because all the energy is directed here the team stagnates, the effectiveness plummets and pretty soon management is thinking they were right to reorg the group since it was ineffective. Which came first the cause or the effect?

The reality is that if you use Outcome Thinking you will continually reinvent your assets as a group, challenge on how to add value to the company and REINVENT your group to be better and stronger as a TEAM then it was before.

So where will you put your energies today? On scarcity and protecting what is your turf or on abundance and building a new level of thinking and energy in your organization. Set backs are just that- a minor step back so you can redirect to a higher level.

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What's Feeding Your Thoughts?

Do you look at the news, read books or magazines that stretch your thinking? To be a Critical Thinker you need to develop the insatiable appetite of reading things, not on the surface level, but instead for the threadlines of connectivity with other things you know.

For example, I recently read Jeffrey Gitomer's article on his experience throwing out the baseball at the Wizards game. Through out the article he relates baseball to sales. Great article and I could have taken it in solely at the level it was offered.

Instead I tied the article and pieces of it to the process of Critical Thinking. Particularly this quote by Doug Dascenzo, the Wizards manager, "They think because they've done something once or twice that they can go to the next thing. That's wrong thinking. There is no "fast" way into the big leagues. Great players have to execute excellently and improve slowly for years, if they want to play int he big leagues. Most of these kids have played baseball all their lives and still don't know enough to play major league ball. Add to that the personality trait of 'no patience' and you have a team of potentially frustrated people."

That quote got me thinking about two things: 1) the problem companies have in understanding why a high performing person they promoted is suddenly failing in their new position and 2) companies constantly wanting 'instant' training for their executives-like can you take a two day program and do it in 2 hours? They feel that since these people are executives they are "bright" enough to catch on faster.

Let's examine the first problem- promoting people only to find they fail. I find that companies constantly promote leaders based on their performance and then are stymied when that person doesn't succeed in the new position. They wonder, why?

Well, the simple reason is that the skills and abilities that make you excel at one job don't necessarily translate to the job above you. Just like the kid that can play baseball all their life but still not understand the "mental" game of big league baseball.

The second problem of timing is answered in the quote when he talks about how there is no fast way in to the big leagues. Instead it is about executing excellently and improving slowly for years. Developing Critical Thinking skills is the same way. It is not a one day course and suddenly your brain is constructed differently. Rather it is a consistent practice of stretching the brain in new ways until it is able to rely less on knowledge and experience and instead be able to take complex information and chew on it in a whole new way. This requires dedication and access to CONSISTENT learning that thread lines all this together to create a sustainable and scalable way of thinking for leaders.

So, one article, one quote, two great new ties. What ways have you stretched your thinking today? Don't just read an article but instead try to picture how it ties to a project, problem or situation you face. Remember, your mind needs exercise just like your body!

Anne Warfield,

Monday, March 3, 2008

Gutsy Conversations

I love to read Carolyn Hax. She differs greatly from Dear Abby, Dear Amy or Ann Landers because she focuses, not on dispensing judgemental advice, but instead on building clarity around your thinking. In general, I think she is right on.

Every once in a while there is one that I think misses the mark. Today, someone wrote in and said "I was recently diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and have been dutifully if miserably going through treatment. The prognosis? Who knows. The whole "every day is a gift" thing has somewhat cruelly -- and somewhat wonderfully -- become a daily, waking thought.
How do I get the people in my life to confess out loud that this could, and in all likelihood will, kill me? Everyone around me is insistent on being optimistic and denying the truth that this disease kills people every day, and I could be one of them. I try to talk to them about what will happen to my things, and what their plans are when and if I die of this, just as if I were hit by a bus, but they stick their heads in the sand and refuse to have the conversation with me.
Carolyn, I could die from this. I will die someday. These are both factual statements. So why will no one discuss it with me? V. "

Carolyn responded talking about how people can be cowards and that V. should say things like, "

"I will need someone to distribute my things. Will you please help me?"
And when you get the oh-it-won't-come-to-that answer: "Yes, it will, and you will die someday, too, and I feel better talking about it than avoiding it. Will you please help me?"
And when heads start hitting the sand: "Can you explain why you won't help me?"
Using Outcome Thinking, let's look at what is at the core here. The fact that someone near you may die is a scary issue. Accepting it means accepting our own mortality and that is even scarier. Ignoring it , not planning for it, makes us feel as though we can hold it off. Bottom line is it makes us uncomfortable.

So address that. It doesn't mean your friends are cowards. It doesn't mean you have to hit them over the head with a hammer. It does mean you HAVE to address their fear before they can let it go and help you.

Imagine if V. was your friend, how you would feel if she said, "Hey this is scary. I would rather think that I will live forever but the reality is that I need to plan for the fact that I might not. I really need your love and support in helping me make plans now. Please know that I realize you hope in your heart that these plans won't have to be implemented and I have the same hope. Just helping me with this will give me more of a peace of mind than you realize. If it gets tough, just let me know and we can talk through it. Just please don't ask me to do this alone or to ignore the fact I may die as that will cause more stress than dealing with the option that I might die."

The beauty about candor is that it does not have to be judgmental. In no way do you have to judge another person as weak or a coward if they can't do things the way you would do them. Remember it is your job as the communicator to help others get past what they are trying to protect so they can take action.

Anne Warfield,