MJ (Interpeter) & Chris Kolenda

Americans commemorate September 11th in their own ways. I spent the day at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, which houses roughly 13,000 Afghan refugees. A former interpreter from one of my units, MJ, is there with his family.

MJ served in one of the most remote outposts of Afghanistan. In such areas, interpreter turnover can be very high. Some take leave and don’t return; others get reassigned to more peaceful areas and larger bases closer to their families.

MJ stayed with his company for the full 15 months. I asked MJ why he stuck it out.  “I respected Captain Page and the company. They took good care of me, and we were making a difference.” What had been one of the most violent areas in Afghanistan in 2007 was one of the more peaceful a year later.

More Americans than ever are leaving their jobs for different employers or careers. Employee turnover, which can range from 50% to 200% of the employee’s annual salary, is one of the highest costs any company faces. For solopreneurs, turnover in your partners and subcontractors results in lost momentum, increased rework, higher expenses, and a greater risk of things falling through the cracks.

MJ provides insight on how to retain your top talent. Gain buy-in by letting people know what you need them to do and why, and having them figure out how. Set clear expectations and hold people accountable. Treat them well and make sure they’ve got the resources and support they need to be successful. Captain John Page did that for his company, which kept MJ on the team. MJ’s support and understanding helped save American lives and change Afghan lives for the better.  

MJ and his family of 8 left Afghanistan with only the clothes on their backs. The conditions in refugee camps, even ones like Fort McCoy, are difficult. MJ never complained. He’s grateful to have a chance to build a new life for his family and wants to open an Afghan restaurant.

The Biden administration has been stubbornly tone-deaf about the outrage and disappointment that many Americans feel about the disintegration of the Afghan government and the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan after we spent 20 years and over $2 trillion, suffering over 2300 US service members killed in action and thousands wounded.

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The President has been steadfast in his decision to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan and has defended it fiercely as the meltdown unfolded. The generals talk about working with the Taliban to help American citizens get out of the country. Diplomats whisper about recognizing a new Taliban-heavy government.

Many Americans are furious about all of it, and the administration’s explanations and rationalizations seem to dig the hole deeper. Unless the administration acknowledges the emotions of so many Americans, they’ll be unable to rally them for the difficult choices ahead.

As an expert business owner, you face tough choices all of the time. The stakes are different, but the emotions are genuine: fear about starting or growing your business, anger at a partner that let you down, joy at gaining a new client and supporter, anxiety about investing in yourself, joy at seeing your clients get to new heights.

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Emotions affect your judgment. People mostly make decisions based on emotion and then rationalize the decision after the fact. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman shows how this process can lead to major errors.

Here’s what to do when you’re facing a challenging decision.

1. Label the emotion that you feel: anger, sadness, joy, contentment, surprise, fear, confusion, among others.

2. Identify the circumstances that are driving each emotion.

3. Develop options to get to your goals.

4. Decide which one is best and act on it.

Creating space between emotion and action, in action:

I’m concerned that an investment in my business won’t pay off (fear of wasting time and money). The best way to reach my goals and shorten my path to success is by getting the right support. Here are ways to do that: A, B, C.

Which one has the best potential payoff at the lowest risk?

BOOM! You got this!

What’s your top takeaway? Please share your thoughts!

https://www.msnbc.com/andrea-mitchell-reports/watch/uncertain-future-for-afghanistan-under-taliban-rule-120062533721

Khris Middleton gets my leadership MVP award for his crucial role in the Milwaukee Bucks’ game 6 win. 

Bucks’ star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 50 points in one of the most impressive performances I’ve ever seen. Still, Middleton’s moment in the 3rd quarter reversed a deteriorating situation for the soon-to-be champs.

Bucks’ forward Bobby Portis, Jr. plays on the razor’s edge of controlled passion. When he plays with too much passion, he makes errors that hurt the team; too much control and he fails to provide the spark that lifts the team to greater heights.

After posting a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter, the Bucks went into half-time down a few points to the Phoenix Suns. The Suns were surging in the 3rd quarter, too, as the Bucks tried to regain momentum. Portis was back in the game.

Portis made what looked to be a fantastic steal. The referee whistled a foul, and Portis ran down the court screaming in protest. The ref added a technical foul, which sent Phoenix to the free-throw line. Another technical foul against him would result in ejection from the game. 

Middleton jogged over to Portis, looked him in the eye, and said some quiet words. His intervention provided the reset Portis needed. Bobby played well the rest of the game. The Bucks regained momentum, took the lead, and won the championship.

Most CEOs and entrepreneurs don’t have peers on the team who can provide timely interventions, challenge your thinking, and keep you centered. When I think of my biggest mistakes in business, each of them occurred when I was lone-wolfing it. Belonging to a mastermind group and having a trusted adviser have paid for themselves several times over with stronger growth, fewer expensive errors, and greater peace of mind. 

Who are the Khris Middletons in your life?
BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

The next FOCUSED program begins in September. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses using the right focus, the right strategy, and the right team. 

The magic is in the implementation. We meet for 90 minutes each week. You do assignments that help you gain the right focus, strategy, and team. You eat the elephant one bite at a time using a 7-step process that helps you make the second half of 2021 your best six months ever, and turbocharges 2022. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you.

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

Last week, I held an exclusive event at the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields for an extraordinary group of small business CEOs and solo entrepreneurs. Our purpose there was to discuss innovation and ways to take our businesses to new heights. 

One of our most powerful discussions occurred at Little Round Top. On July 2, 1863, the 20th Maine Regiment, led by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, defended the extreme flank of the Union position. The regiment held off repeated confederate assaults until they were nearly out of ammunition. As the next assault came, Chamberlain ordered his troops to fix bayonets and charge the attacking enemy.

His unexpected counterattack caught the confederates off guard. They broke and ran, thus ending the largest threat to the Union Army. The 20th Maine saved the day, and, perhaps, the Union.

Vital to the 20th Maine’s success was the addition of 117 soldiers on the eve of battle. These troops from the 2nd Maine Regiment were detainees, accused of desertion. They thought they had signed two-year enlistments instead of three and demanded to go home. Talk about disengaged employees!

The Union generals gave Chamberlain custody of the accused, with permission to shoot them if he wished. Chamberlain had about 300 soldiers in his command. Guarding a large company of deserters would deprive him of team members for the upcoming battle.

Chamberlain could have ordered them to stand in the ranks during the battle or face a firing squad. That’s the digital, on-off-on-off, approach: do what I say (on) or you’ll suffer the consequences (off). Based on what we know about employee engagement and the behavior of soldiers under fire, those forced to face confederate rifles, cannons, and bayonets would likely have broken and run away. The cascading effect would have doomed the Union Army.

Chamberlain used a different approach. He gained their trust, heard what they had to say, treated them respectfully, and talked about why he needed their support. He let them decide whether or not to fight. Persuasion is an analog approach, using a continuous signal to gain buy-in. Of the 120 deserters, 117 agreed to take up their rifles and fight, increasing Chamberlain’s capacity by over one-third. 

Too much communication today is digital. Leaders issue policies and demand compliance. You provide mandates with carrots and sticks. People yell at one another over social media. Your top lieutenants urge you to use stronger language and more drastic sticks. Skeptical employees dig in their heels or leave. Is it any wonder that there’s so much polarization in society and disengagement at work?

The analog approach to communication focuses on the ABCs: provide clarity, gain buy-in, and promote 360-degree accountability. Let people know what you need them to do and the desired results and outcomes (the Why). Let them figure out the how. Who’s helping you with the ABCs?

BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

The next FOCUSED program begins in September. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses using the right focus, the right strategy, and the right team. 

The magic is in the implementation. We meet for 90 minutes each week. You do assignments that help you gain the right focus, strategy, and team. You eat the elephant one bite at a time using a 7-step process that helps you make the second half of 2021 your best six months, ever, and turbocharges 2022. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you.

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

How do you keep your employees engaged and playing team ball?

Unemployment remains elevated, according to The Wall Street Journal, even as millions of jobs go unfilled. Part of the reason for this seeming incongruity is that people have a lower tolerance for bad work environments. People are voting with their feet to get away from bad bosses and unfulfilling work. 

I’ll be interested to see the 2021 Gallup study on workplace engagement. The 2019 data is revealing: two-thirds of American employees report being UNengaged at work. Imagine the productivity your team could achieve if you had 67% or more of your people giving a hundred percent.

What interests me the most is what inspires people to cross the line from disengaged to engaged and prevents people from crossing in the other direction. How do you fill the ranks of the engaged and keep them there?

An NFL coach showed me part of the answer this weekend. Each year, Gregg Williams hosts a golf tournament near Kansas City to raise funds for youth activities in Excelsior Springs, Missouri. I sponsored a team for the event. 

I rode in a van from the hotel to the golf course with four of Williams’ former players. Williams coached their high school football team. That was thirty years ago. One was a fourth-string quarterback who had to step into the starting role when others were injured. “He believed in me, and that gave me the confidence to win.” Another one told me that Williams “taught me life lessons that I’ll never forget.”

A third former player broke into tears. He grew up an orphan and was getting into trouble in high school. Coach Williams became the father figure he never had. “We come every year,” he told me, “Coach Williams changed our lives.” He’s now the mayor of his hometown.

Coach Williams brings out the best in his players by customizing roles to people’s natural strengths. “Put people in a position to succeed, and they will amaze you,” Williams said, “put them together in the right combination, and they’ll win.” That philosophy is how he gets people to cross from unengaged to engaged.

Agency keeps them engaged, Blake (Gregg’s son and also an NFL coach) tells me. When people know the bigger picture, how everyone contributes, and the essential role each individual plays, they can make smart decisions during the game. Agency is the ability to make decisions about the nature and outcomes of your work. 

People get engaged when you customize roles to their natural affinities. They stay engaged when they have agency. Assemble them in the right combinations, and you’ll have a winning team. 

BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

People have seen that remote work can work and are creating solo- and expert-businesses in record numbers.

The next FOCUSED program begins the first week of August. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses using the right focus, the right strategy, and the right team. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you. Email me to apply: [email protected]

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

If you do the same things over and over again, you shouldn’t expect the same results.

Wait … what?

You’ve heard the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

This twist is about innovation.

If you keep doing the same things, you aren’t going to get the same results. You are going to fail. Look at Sears, ToysRUs, Blockbuster, Blackberry, FAO Schwartz, and others.

They did the same things over and over again and expected continued success. They got complacent, failed to innovate, and are now either out of business or struggling. 

Conditions change, competitors adapt, markets shift, technology advances. You cannot control these externalities, but you can control how you encourage strategic thinking, gain external points of view, and promote innovation. 


BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

The next FOCUSED program begins the first week of August. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses using the right focus, the right strategy, and the right team. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you. Email me directly if interested.

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

It wasn’t the “snogging.” It was the hypocrisy. The Sun, a tabloid, plastered pictures of Britain’s health secretary, Matt Hancock, in a passionate kiss indoors with an aide [snogging is the British term for smootching]. 

Hancock had been the public face of British mandates to wear masks and practice physical distancing. He’s got plenty of company among American politicians and business leaders. Ordinary people like you and me are tired of the elite snobbery that the rules are for everyone else.

I’m preparing for my next in-person elite event at Antietam and Gettysburg, reading about another Hancock: General Winfield Scott Hancock who commanded Union Army troops during the American Civil War.

Hancock was a leader-on-horseback, meaning that he set a visible example for others to follow. Riding horseback could be considered a privilege during long marches. In battle, you became the top target.

Your visibility is a bit better from the saddle, but the main purpose of being on horseback was to be seen by your soldiers. If the most exposed person in the unit shows courage under fire, so can I. Hancock’s corps stood their ground against Pickett’s charge during the battle of Gettysburg and won the battle that led to winning the war.

Nobody is shooting at you in business. Still, your employees look to your example: how do you treat people, do your actions match your words? Do I trust you?

Winfield Scott Hancock knew the power of being on horseback in battle. In business, you don’t always have the same simplicity. You might not know if your most talented are about to break and run. Like Matt Hancock, you might see yourself in the best light possible, but your employees see shades.

Who’s helping you see how others perceive you and fix the gaps that prompt disengagement and attrition? 


BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

The next FOCUSED program begins the first week of August. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses using the right focus, the right strategy, and the right team. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you. Email me to apply ([email protected])

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

More Americans are quitting their jobs, according to WSJ, than at any time in the last two decades. 

As COVID lifts, people’s interests are shifting from job security to professional fulfillment. We’re seeing the beginning of a massive employee turnover wave. You can ride it successfully to gain new talent or get pulled under and lose some of your best employees. How well are you positioned? 

On the eve of the Gettysburg battle, Col. Joshua Chamberlain was told to watch over 120 disgruntled soldiers accused of desertion. Chamberlain’s own force was around 300, and every soldier devoted to guarding the group reduced the number of rifles he could put into the line. 

Chamberlain won their trust and gained their buy-in (hint: he did not offer them better pay & benefits or threaten them). 117 of the 120 agreed to fight in Chamberlain’s ranks. The added rifles enabled Chamberlain’s unit to stand their ground at Little Round Top, counterattack, and win. They saved the Union Army.

The ABCs — Accountability, Buy-in, and Clarity — turned the tide. How well are the ABCs working in your organization? 

We’ll discuss practical steps to get the ABCs right on June 30th at 10:30 am U.S. Central in a live zoom session (Register here https://lnkd.in/d3hWGNy). 

Register here or use this address: https://strategic-leaders-academy.teachable.com/p/taking-your-business-to-new-heights-gettysburg

BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES

The next FOCUSED program begins the first week of August. This 8-week group program is for principled leaders who want to grow their businesses in the right ways at the right pace with the right team. 

Click here to see if the program is a good fit for you.

This program’s clarity and focus resulted in more high-payoff work that we love and less wasted time and energy. We expect 33% growth to reach $100k in monthly revenues and expand from there.
Matthew Hargrove and Barry Lingelbach, Black-Grey-Gold Consulting 

I awoke in my tent a little after 5 am on Saturday. I could see two flying insects circling each other in the space between the tent netting and the waterproof cover in the morning light. They closed in and began mating. 

After finishing, one of the insects pulled away. Its movements were jerky, as if it remained in an agitated state. The other was still. I’m not sure if it was dead or exhausted. Nature is extraordinary.

A spider lurked an inch away the entire time. The insects were so fixated on mating that they did not see the danger nearby. The spider struck, immobilizing the one insect and wrapping it with the other. Breakfast.

In battle, the savvy commanders launch counterattacks after the enemy has taken an objective. The psychology is brutally effective: the adrenaline release after success leaves people physically, mentally, and emotionally spent. This point is your adversary’s greatest vulnerability. The spider waited for the successful mating and got a double meal.

Who’s helping you avoid complacency, spur innovation, and stay vigilant?

Blackberry’s CEO doubled down on keyboards when plenty of data showed customers favored touchscreens. Blockbuster fixated on in-store VHS rentals and missed the move to mail-in and streaming that powered Netflix. It’s tough for your employees to challenge your thinking when things are going well, and yet that’s when you most need it. 

When a victorious general entered ancient Rome for a victory parade, an adviser rode alongside and repeated, “All glory is fleeting.” 

BREAKTHROUGH OPPORTUNITIES
1. I’m putting together an exclusive event, July 14-17, to help seven leaders spur innovation to make the second half of 2021 their best ever and turbocharge 2022. 

Breakthroughs come when you look at your situation from a novel point of view. That’s exactly why we are going to the Antietam and Gettysburg battlefields for the event. At each point, you’ll focus on insights relevant to new successes. Being together with other extraordinary people inspires you to new heights.

Two of seven places are open. Contact me for more information.

2. If you cannot join the exclusive event, you can register for an interactive, hour-long Zoom session on June 30th at 10:30 am U.S. Central, plus I’ll stick around for 30 minutes afterward to answer your questions. Among the outcomes:

  • Action steps to put the right leaders on the scene and empower them to make decisions.
  • How to help your subordinates achieve “leader-on-horseback” inspiration so that people have clear examples to follow.
  • How to avoid common pitfalls when facing leader turnover.
  • Ways to set up your new subordinates for success and keep them winning.
  • Action steps that create clarity, buy-in, and accountability.
  • Ways to let in fresh ideas and avoid smelling your own gunpowder.
  • How to plan for success instead of simply hoping for success and planning for failure.

The fee for the zoom session is $297. The first twenty to register by June 15th get 50% off. Use coupon code Members50 at checkout

Register here or use this address: https://strategic-leaders-academy.teachable.com/p/taking-your-business-to-new-heights-gettysburg