Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Change Your Brain BY.....

I have always loved creating with music going. From the time I wake up in the morning to the time I go to bed, I constantly have music going. I never thought much of it. I just knew that I felt I created and thought better with music on.

Last night I was reading the book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life and right there I found the answer for why I like music so much. I turns out the University of California at Irvine did a study on visual -spatial learning skills. What they found was that when people listened to Mozart (particularly Sonata for Two Pianos), they improved their pattern recognition scores by a whopping....62%!!

What they propose is that Mozart's music strengthens the right-brain processing center associated with spatial learning.

So, guess what my office is now playing?? You guessed it! We are having a blast testing out Mozart and seeing how it impacts our daily work.

Try something different and play some Mozart to see how it affects the way you listen, think, and create!

Anne Warfield,

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bait and Switch Revealed

The TV is on and the ad announces that you can get this entire Leeza Gibbons set of Sheer Cover makeup for only $29.95! My girls are watching and saying, "Mommy, get it!" I thought, "hmm for only $40 with shipping, okay."

Then the call. The Bait. The Switch. The Ugh.

The call started with "for only an extra $9.95 plus $9.95 for shipping we can upgrade you to the deluxe edition that has 8 items." I said, "no thanks, I just want what was offered on the TV." She then tried to upgrade me to just 7 items. I said no. She then went to saying we can send you a 90 day supply versus a 30 day supply for just $29.95. I said, "I'm confused. Isn't $29.95 the price of the kit that is on the TV." She said, "yes and we will send you 3 months for just $29.95."

By this time I am irritated. So I asked her exactly what was different between that and what I say on TV. I asked her to give me the total she was going to charge me. Well, surprise it was going to be $97!

I said, "all I want is what was offered on TV. Please don't try to upgrade me or I will cancel the order." She said she understood and then proceeded again to try and get me to add two other products!

I told her to cancel the entire order. It ticked me off and it confused me. I called to just do what the TV offered and she tried to upgrade me SIX times!!!

So how many customers do you lose because you make things too confusing? How many do you move from being excited about your product to being so ticked that they will tell others to avoid it? Is it really worth the $15 upgrade to lose a client?

If they had just taken my order I might have gotten the products, loved them and continued to buy them. If I had loved them, this is a product that costs you $30 a month. So that means I would be a $360 a year customer. And if I turned 10 other friends on to this product it would be worth $3600 a year to them. And they lost it all due to a lousy need to constantly try to upgrade.

Look at any UN-WOWS in your company. Get rid of anything that confuses your customer, irritates them, or frustrates them. Every step in your company should be one that builds trust, not shatters it.

Give them the opportunity to upgrade once but not six times. After the first one it just feels like you want to make as much money off me as you can which feels slimy and distrustful.

Anne Warfield,

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What Do Leaders And Winter Have In Common?

I love Summer, I enjoy Spring, Fall is okay but Winter, man I am not a fan. For me Winter is too cold and too long. In my mind, I think let’s just get rid of Winter.

But what would happen if it was Summer all the time? Would I really want my neighbors in my yard year around? Or do I love Summer because we all KNOW that Winter will come so we FULLY embrace Summer? We know that we will get our quiet time in Winter so we don’t mind the constant traffic of Summer.

As a Leader Winter is like your time of LEARNING. It should be your longest season and it should happen EVERY YEAR. I can’t tell you how many leaders I run in to that consider themselves “there.” Like once they have arrived they don’t need any more training.

Who are they kidding? That is when you need it the most.

As a leader your brain shouldn’t even be CLOSE to what it was even six months ago. You should be constantly stretching it. Only by doing this will you gain new insights and the ability to “SEE” things you didn’t before. It is like changing the lens cap on a camera and suddenly new things come in to view. They were there before but not visible to you because they weren’t in your conscious level of that time.

The training is not always about the content. It is about the way it stretches your brain, how you mold it to your past and present, and how to apply it to your life today. You life is never at the same spot so you will never absorb the learning in the same way.

Think about Lance Armstrong. What if he said, “I learned how to ride a bike as a kid so I don’t need any more lessons.” You couldn’t even imagine him saying that because you realize the level he is stretching to is way beyond what he was as a kid. On top of that the equipment he learned on as a kid is not even close to the equipment he has today. His brakes today are probably 1000 times more sensitive then the brakes he used as a kid. There is no way he could apply the same pressure to his brakes today as he did 40 years ago and expect the same results. So why DO YOU?

I encourage all the leaders we work with to constantly read, travel, and stretch. You never know where your next insight will come from.

Anne Warfield,

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What's Stopping Your Results

It is ironic to me how many companies ask me if we can do "instant" training for their leaders because they don't have the time to take away from work. Hmm... what does that really tell you?

Even when you look at nature there are always Four Seasons- Spring (a time for regrowth), Summer (a time for warmth and enjoyment), Fall (a time for reflection and shedding of bad habits so you are ready for growth), and Winter (a dormant time of deep learning beneath a bed of snow so it emerges in the Spring with new colors).

In work we follow the One Season mode-work, work and more work. At what point do you stop and improve your game? When do you do your intense learning so you can come back in the Spring stronger than you were before? If nature didn't take all four seasons to rejuvenate what would happen?

Why do we believe if we heard or learned something once we don't need to revisit it? I believe that there are deep layers to our learning and at times we may listen to something but we don't hear it at a deep enough level because we don't have the capacity at the time to grasp it completely. Then you come back later at a whole different level and all of a sudden your understanding is so much deeper.

To really grasp this concept think of how many times you, as a parent, reflect back now on what your parents did and you say, "I understand now." Or when you were promoted to management for the first time and you finally understood why your old manager did things the way they did. You had a shift in thinking which then shifted how you viewed all the experiences in the past that relate to that thinking.

So challenge yourself as a leader to continue to grow, stretch and learn। There is a good reason why nature follows four seasons!

Anne Warfield,

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

When Is It Not Alright?

Was just watching 20/20 and they had a piece on a mayor from Arlington, Oregon who had pictures posted on of her in a black bra and panties on top of a fire truck and another one that was suggestive. The town of 650 has some citizens that are trying to oust the mayor over these pictures. The mayor is a very attractive and physically fit woman in her late 40's.

Okay, here is the deal: The mayor is fighting back and saying that she didn't post the pictures- her friends and family did- and that she will not leave her position (which is a voted in position but non-salary).

What is right and wrong here?

The mayor is saying she has a right to post any pictures that she wants; the town is saying she is a reflection of the town and those pictures aren't the right reflection.

Let's first look at the right and wrong question and then we will get to the more important question.

If you are a CEO, Senior Management, Queen, King, in a visible government position, you DO have an obligation to uphold the values, principles and image of that position. It is no longer about you- your image extends beyond you to the town, country, or company. Yes, you did need to adhere to the standards that go with that office. Yes it may mean at times you have to curb what you would say in public, that you have to watch what you wear and that you have to watch what you do. And yes, that may at times, seem "unfair." But the truth is that when you sought that position this was part of the package.

But really, that is not the big question here. The big question is, why was it approached in such a way as to make the mayor feel judged and thus, to feel justified in digging in her heels and leaving the pictures up?

My understanding is she was first approached by some in the town telling her the pictures were a disgrace and that they wanted her removed. Right away they gave a judgement and she is fighting that judgment.

Imagine if instead they came to her and said, "we found some pictures on of you that don't fit your upstanding image as our mayor and we wanted to take some time to talk with you about them and how you propose to handle it. I am not sure if you are even aware these pictures are out there." My guess is she would have gone in and taken them right down.. After all, she says she isn't even the one that put them up. Most likely at this point she is defending herself as well as her family and friends that put the pictures up.

If she didn't want to do that, the discussion could easily move to "so if the image of mayor is to be one that is upstanding citizen that reflects positively on our entire town, how do these pictures fit that?" And if she insisted, they could then say, "So we are to understand that you feel strongly about keeping these pictures up and that if we don't feel that fits the image of a mayor you want us to go about removing you from office?"

Then if they proceed with the petition, the mayor is the one who essentially pushed that direction, not the citizens. My guess is that she would have removed them if she felt the grace of room to not feel judged for them being there in the first place.

Anne Warfield,

Monday, January 21, 2008

You Listen But Do You Hear?

I just sat in a meeting that I KNEW before I went in was going to go well. Now how did I know that? Well this vendor, Tom Heller, has consistently LISTENED to what we have said, has tried to capture the FEELING of what we want and then has trusted himself to design something that captures the FEELING.

Notice, I did not say he asked us HOW we want to accomplish it and he did not ask us WHAT we want to see in the design. No instead he asks us what is the feeling we want to create and in return we give him the room to design as he chooses. Thus, we don’t infringe on his creative or work time nor do we try to micromanage him.

Matter-of-fact we believe so strong in his ability to LISTEN and HEAR what we need that we declined a meeting with him to show him concepts we had seen in the market. We were afraid that they would bias him away from his own creativity which we strongly believe in.

Ask yourself if you truly hear your clients? Do you listen beyond what they say to capture or hear the essence of the feeling or mood they are trying to convey? There is always more in the music beyond the lyrics and your ability to hear the fine sounds of all the instruments as they combine is what gets you the freedom you want and the paycheck you deserve!

Anne Warfield,

Friday, January 18, 2008

How Assumptions Can Trip You Up

Okay, I am the official wake up person in our family. I always have been. This is largely due to the fact that I am a morning person and that I have an internal alarm clock that wakes me up automatically WITHOUT needing an alarm. This internal clock is so on that I can travel through different time zones and go to bed telling myself, "you need to wake up at 6 am" (which may be 4 am from the time zone I was in) and I will wake up between 5:55 am and 6:05 am. It is uncanny.

Now contrast this to my husband who prefers nights. He loves to sleep in every morning. He also has restless leg syndrome so there are times he will sleep on a couch downstairs or in our spare bedroom upstairs. Well to get the family going in the morning I am usually the first one up and then my husband will start moving and help me with getting all of the kids up.

So here it is and I decide I would really like to just sleep in this morning. I am thinking, "for just one morning I would like to NOT have the be the one responsible for getting the entire family going." As I lay there I am thinking, "what are the chances my husband will get up and take care of the kids without me having to get him up and going as well." I am hoping it will be high because it is rare for me to sleep in.

So I open my eyes at 6:15 am. My son needs to be up at 6:30 am. I say to myself, "I am confident Rory and Paul will get up and get the day started. I can sleep in." Well, when I look at the clock next it is 6:50 am and NEITHER one is up. So I drag myself out of bed, muttering to myself, and go and wake up Rory. I then see my husband's feet in the spare room and am immediately irritated that he didn't hear Rory's alarm (he was closer to it) and that he is still snoozing. So I flick the light on in that room as well.

I proceed downstairs thinking, "I am justified in getting him up because, after all, it is only about 3 times a year I ask to sleep in. The rest of the time I let him sleep in." My husband calmly tells me when he comes down that our daughter Ce'Anna came in to our room last night with a fever and he took her in to the spare bedroom to sleep with her so I wouldn't be disturbed. And, of course, he didn't get a bit of sleep.

I went from smug to appalled with myself in 30 seconds flat. See, I had committed a sin we often commit. I believed that sense I had years of data and facts that I could safely assume that he was just sleeping in. Yet, what he was doing was actually doing ME a great service.

Make sure you have ALL the facts before you act. Don't ASSUME that just because of facts from the past you can safely jump to a conclusion. Most importantly, give people the grace of space without judgment. If I just had taken a moment to step farther in to the room or to wait until he came down I would have learned of the kindness he had done for me. Instead I made him start his day out frustrated--not a good spot to put someone in.

Anne Warfield

Thursday, January 17, 2008

How Interpretation Can Lead To Wildly Different Actions

We had an interesting discussion at our office today about one of our key principles/premises. We have 10 that we hang our hat on that help all employees know how to BE in our company.

Well the one we started chatting about was "Lexus Mentality." For me, this one is a strong one because I see Lexus as a company that is strongly founded in their quality that they won't negotiate with you. They are 100% committed to providing the best running car that doesn't need to be in the shop. Because of this committment they know that people come back again and again. We are not just buying the car; we are buying the peace of mind that comes in knowing the car will run the same way every day with no exceptions.

The fact that it comes in a great package with cool extras is a bonus- the icing on the cake. Imagine though if they decided to negotiate with people and offer a version that has lower level pieces. The entire meaning to Lexus gets lost. It no longer fits its brand. Hmm, come to mind that is exactly what Kitchen Aid did with their mixers so they could sell them to Walmart and Target as well as high end stores. When the plastic pieces started to bust, people didn't equate it with the store they bought it or the price they bought it for. No, they assumed that Kitchen Aid meant the same quality no matter what the store was.

So for me...Lexus Mentality meant unsacrificable quality.

To another person, it meant arrogance- a company that is not willing to bend and is snootty enough to lose you as a client if you don't play by their rules. you see a problem here?

Always make sure your premises/principles are concrete enough that they create a visual that all people align with. Since our motto is "our clients are our friends" you can see how the arrogant snooty impression would be one we would never want someone to embrace. Without the dialogue we would have "assumed" all people had the same interpretation.

The solution? We modified it to say "Lexus Quality Mentality" so all people focus on providing the best.

Challenge yourself to make sure your principles and values are so clear they help all at your office "be" what they need to "be" in order to "do" what they need to "

Anne Warfield

Friday, January 11, 2008

What Is Your Purple Cow?

I am a ferocious reader. On average I read 4 books a week. They tend to spur my mind and I cross pollinate the ideas and learning’s from one book to another until I gain new insights.

In college I took a speed reading course. It was one of my best investments. I found that my comprehension went up the faster I read (that is because your brain reads at 600 wpm—the average person reads at 150-250 wpm and the space in between is where your brain wonders and your comprehension goes down—and I was able to accomplish much more in much less time. In college this meant I studied less and could meet every one at the bar. A bonus at that time.

So, some of these blogs will try to give you the insights these books have spurred for me and hopefully will spur your thinking as well.

In Seth Godin’s book, The Purple Cow, he emphasizes that in today’s world our brains are overloaded with information. We are constantly bombarded by it so hence we become desensitized to it. We no longer even hear it. He even shares how he went up to people reading the New York Times and asked them to name one of the companies in the ads they had just read. They couldn’t name one.

This got me to thinking about how people’s brains function at work. If we are programmed to tune out advertisement, how do you think we feel about corporate meetings where the manager just talks at us? Do we view it as a commercial that we can or cannot listen to? Do we see it STUCK in our day (like a commercial is stuck in our TV program) rather than see it as a REASON for our day?

Seth’s point is that as you drive and see fields of cows they lose their novelty. But if you come across a purple cow, that would get your attention.

What do you do to turn your meetings from being a field of cows to being a PURPLE COW? What do you do with your sales presentation that makes your prospect stop and say, WOW? What do you do with your corporate communication that makes employees WANT to read it?

TAKE ACTION: Look today at your communication with fresh eyes. If anything bores you, you can bet it bores your audience. Stop, make it eye catching, unique and something that gets them to see you, not as the commercial, but as the program they want to listen to.

Anne Warfield

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Compliments And The Impact They Have

Okay, so I know this is my third blog on birthdays but I really got some great thinking as a I pondered birthdays with my children. By the way, don’t be afraid to do as I have done in these blogs- milk your thoughts about one subject until you are able to fully come around to a new understanding. It is in dissecting all of your thoughts and angles that you are often able to come up with your best new insights.

When my eight year old woke up for her birthday her number one thing she was excited about was that she was going to hear what every one loved about her at dinner time.

Three years ago we started doing a new family ritual for birthdays. On your birthday dinner each person would share one thing they love about you and one thing they love to do with you. My thought was that at least once a year they would reinforce the good about each other and build a stronger love to last their life time. I also thought that as they hit those tough older years they would at least have one day a year where their sibling told them what was wonderful about them to offset all the days they bicker with each other.

What I didn’t count on was how much the kids would latch on to this ritual. They love to hear what everyone loves about them.

But it is also a greater lesson. It is a lesson in how to sit through compliments and absorb them WITHOUT offering a compliment in return. That is tough to do. Think about the last time someone complimented you. If you are like most people, rather than just saying thank you, you gave them a compliment back. It is hard to learn to feel in your head and heart that your acceptance of a compliment is not egotistical nor does it distract from the other person in any way.

TAKE ACTION: Start passing out compliments more freely, when you get complimented practice just saying, “Thanks,” and if you have children, start a family ritual that has each person once a year share what they love about each other. You will be amazed at how much mileage you will get out of it - especially if the person is the only receiver of the compliments that night.

Anne Warfield

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What is Your Outlook?

The other night at Ce’Anna’s birthday we asked the kids why they loved birthdays. Their answers included, “Because it is all about me!, I get presents, I hear all the good things about me (more in the next blog about that), I am getting closer to being able to do more things, I get to have a party with my friends” and the list went on.

Then we asked what they thought most adults thought about their own birthday. They said, “ugh, I’m getting older, they hate them, they look older when they look in the mirror and they don’t like it.” Hmm, pretty perceptive.

So we started to talk about how and why kids and adult view their birthdays differently and it hit me—At some point in time we stop looking at our birthdays as an opening to more opportunities in our life and instead look at it as a closing of opportunities. Why?

Why can’t we still do the things we want? Why do we put self-imposed limits on ourselves? A birthday should be a celebration of all that you have done in your life. I remember for my 30th birthday I wrote a letter to each of the women in my group about how they made a difference in my life. It was one of my best birthdays and it was about giving rather than receiving.

My grandfather is in his 90’s. His goal is to live to 118. He looks at each birthday as one year closer to his goal so he celebrates with gusto. He winks and says, “I’m going to be the oldest living guy.--won’t see a damn thing with these cataracts but I will still have my scotch!” He doesn’t let poor eye sight stop him and he still lives alone!

Live your life to the fullest.

Each birthday should be one that you look at as an opportunity to open more gates and do more of what you want. Even if it is changing your routine around that can make a huge difference. If you don’t want to look back on this past year and say, “what a wasted year, I didn’t accomplish anything,” change it now.

TAKE ACTION: look at what habits you have that you would like to change or habits you would like to develop and change your behavior to make those manifest in this next year.

Anne Warfield

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Perspective is a funny thing…

Yesterday was my daughter, Ce’Anna’s, birthday. She was turning eight and she was excited. She couldn’t wait for her birthday. The fact that it falls so close to Christmas she sees as an asset.

Her brother’s birthday is on Jan 15th and her sister’s is on June 29th. Rory and Ce’Anna think having a January birthday is the best thing in the world. I over heard them say to Michaela, “it is too bad you don’t have a January birthday. You have to wait so long for yours.”

Now to me, Michaela’s birthday is the clear deal because it is six months later, she gets summer stuff to play with and she has time to truly enjoy her Christmas loot before she has to gear up for more stuff. To me going an entire year waiting for more presents sounds worse then knowing six months later I would be getting more goods.

See my birthday is Jan. 31 and I have always hated a winter birthday. I hated that I couldn’t do fun outdoor games. I hated that all I got was winter things. I told my Mom, “no mother should ever saddle her kid with a January birthday.” (Yes, you are right, she laughs hysterically at me now since I have, not one, but two kids birthdays in January!

I realized with my daughter’s birthday it is all a matter of perspective. I dwelled on all the bad things about a January birthday and so hated the fact it was in January. Rory and Ce’Anna focus on all the positives- how they start the year out a new age (okay so maybe this could be a reason I hate my January birthday as I always start the year older right away!), they get to be the first in the family to get more presents, they can pool their Christmas money and birthday money to get really big items they want, they get to be one of the first at school with a party…and the list goes on.

So what do you focus on- the good or the bad? I guarantee you whatever you focus on manifests. So make this YOUR YEAR by manifesting what you want.

Anne Warfield