team

Courageous vulnerability boosts your Team’s connections, understanding, and innovation.

When describing vulnerability, I’m not referring to Merriam Webster’s definition, “open to attack or damage.” I’m also not saying that leaders and Team members need to bear their souls and talk about all of their weaknesses. The vulnerability I’m referring to is the ability to ask for help, rely on one another, admit when wrong, celebrate Teammates’ wins,  see the value in being something other than that tough-skinned Autobot that has no feelings and only thinks about creating more widgets and making more money. I’m talking about the vulnerability that produces magical moments of insight, creativity, innovation, and unites Team members through commonalities and compassion.

During the civil war, the leader on horseback was the most vulnerable person in the formation—the exemplar of courage and steadfastness in the face of danger. When there’s trust, people don’t take shots at you—they help. Soldiers rally around the leader and Teammates offer help and support. You can admit mistakes and shortcomings and you can experiment and fail. What are the limits of vulnerability? How are you modeling vulnerability and leading the charge for your Team? 

I used to teach a semester-long adventure education course at a suburban high school. One of the capstone experiences was our overnight camping trip. Inevitably, we had students that had never slept outside, sat around a campfire, observed the stars outside the city limits, or cooked a meal over the fire. For some, it was very spiritual. As the night settled down, we sat in a circle around the fire and shared our hopes and dreams for our future. These nights took on a magical essence. Students bore their souls and showed their vulnerability. Oftentimes we ended the night with glow sticks and group hugs. The classes’ emotional awareness, psychological safety, and connectivity grew exponentially during those nights. This single night of vulnerability cracked open the thick layer of teenage self-consciousness, and our class moved from classmates to family.

These overnights became so legendary that students came to the campfire knowing they would shed tears and open their hearts. They anticipated a transformation with their classmates and embraced the change with open hearts. The best part? Our classes’ efficiency, creativity, productivity, understanding, and joy also increased exponentially for the remainder of the semester. The kids, who were sometimes a pain in the butt, quit their disruptive behavior. The disengaged became fully engaged. The unhappy came to school with a greater sense of belonging. The transformation was tangible.

“Vulnerability is not a weakness. That myth is profoundly dangerous… Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to a feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable the sharing is probably not constructive.” ~Brene Brown

Why it’s important:

  • Authenticity – Vulnerability allows each person to work as their best selves. They own their strengths, acknowledge their weaknesses, and find the best fit for their skills. They are accepted and have a strong sense of belonging.
  • Greater sense of belonging – Your Team will have stronger connections, a deeper understanding of each other, greater empathy and compassion, and they will be able to practice benevolence and interdependency. 

Greater passion for their work – When your Team is vulnerable, they can work interdependently towards a common goal and hold each other accountable. Notice how this doesn’t say that the boss will hold everyone accountable. No, the Team will hold each other accountable. Everyone has a clear purpose, and they know what their job entails and their expectations of one another. Talk about buy-in!

What is your equivalent to sitting around the campfire or riding on horseback? What event or activity can you create to drill through the core of ego and self-consciousness? As we navigate our polarized world, how are you using this opportunity to create a deeper understanding of one another instead of a deeper divide?

Know who you are and what you stand for. Just as importantly, get to know your employees at the same level. Allow people to express themselves respectfully. When you’re vulnerable feel safe, they will stick around and willingly contribute their best.

Laura Colbert Consulting Programs

  • The Trusted Advisor Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, relentless accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results.

Additional Offerings: 

Join our central Wisconsin in-person or online Impactful Leadership Lunch. Join like-minded leaders during this monthly mastermind lunch group to improve your business efficiency, boost employee retention, and get you focused on doing what gives you joy.

Are you looking for a Keynote Speaker at your next event? I use my past experiences and knowledge to show you how to be the best version of yourself, surround yourself with the right people, and build highly productive teams. 

People without Chests are easy Prey for the Demagogues who Pit People against each Other

“The head rules the belly through the chest,” C.S. Lewis tells us, but the belly will override the head if there’s no chest.


The metaphor is from Plato. The head => logic, the belly => emotion, and the chest => virtue. People “without chests” are viscerals, governed by emotion.

A century after Lewis and a couple of millennia after Plato, Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman described two human thinking systems in his book Thinking … Fast and Slow. System 1 is the emotional, governed by the amygdala, that controls our fight or flight instincts. System 2, the analytic brain, is slower and requires more effort. You have to pay close attention when using System 2, and a threat or distraction allows System 1 to retake control.

People without chests are easy prey for the demagogues who pit people against each other. System 1 runs amok when people point to those who look, act, or think differently as an existential threat or source of evil. Restraint goes out the window when you are fighting Beelzebub.

Virtue has gone out of fashion, argues Roosevelt Montás in Rescuing Socrates, and I wonder if the absence of leaders with chests has contributed to the breakdown of our politics, corporate governance, civil society, and organizations. Only people without chests could think racism, revenge racism, misogyny, bigotry, fraud, deceit, and the like are ok as long as they advance your agenda. And yet, here we are.

Ancient Greco-Roman philosophers believed that following the four cardinal virtues — wisdom, justice, courage, and self-discipline — was essential for living the good life and having a healthy republic, army, business, or organization. Confucius and other ancient eastern thinkers wrote similarly. Practicing timeliness principles builds your chest so that your head can rule your belly.


Building leaders with chests requires learning from theory, history, and experience. You need the big ideas about fostering the common good, the history of effective and failed leaders so that you can learn from their successes and failures, and personal experience in the arena to put the chest into practice.

It’s easy to let the chest diminish. Apathy does the trick, and history shows the consequences.

Theory and history without experience put you in the ivory tower of impracticality, while theory and experience without history make you vulnerable to silly fads. Without theory, experience and history trap you in the hamster wheel of tactics without strategy.

Leaders with chests do what’s right, the right way, without you having to watch over them. Imagine the impact on your business when you have people committed to the common good who are doing the right things, taking the initiative, and innovating. Imagine the consequences of the opposite.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

Accelerating your Success

Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. How will you help your clients thrive? 

The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in February. We’ll examine the most important 2022 forecasts for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

Just because you built buy-in doesn’t mean it will stick around. It needs cultivation and invested time. 

Buy-in

So often, we feel as though we have to keep our cards close to our chests as leaders. We don’t want scrutiny. We worry that the plan has to be perfect—which doesn’t exist—before we reveal it. Maybe there’s a lack of trust within our Team. Perhaps we think our Team isn’t capable of thinking at our level. Or, we’re worried that our Team is not ready for change so we prolong telling them about it until the plan is done and it needs to be executed immediately. 

The best way to gain buy-in? Put your people first and treat them as professionals. How do you do that? You bring them to the table. You give them the confidence to provide valuable feedback. When you have time to do so, getting people to contribute their ideas before you make a decision allows you to adopt some or all of them and increase buy-in. Gaining their ideas in advance is more plausible than gaining feedback from them after you’ve made a decision. When you make this practice a habit, then people will better understand the times when you need to make an immediate decision.

How to gain organizational buy-in:

  1. Trust – Be authentic and vulnerable. Your Team is better together. One-on-one meetings and small team meetings are great ways to foster this trust.
  2. Psychologically safe environment – practice empathy and compassion and create a space where everyone can have a voice. 
  3. Request input and feedback – Ask specific questions and really address your Team’s concerns—allow everyone to speak. Don’t be overly attached to ideas. 

How to get buy-in for an idea: 

  1. The “WOW” factor – Let your Team know how this is going to positively impact them and the organization. 
  2. Share your journey on developing this plan – Tell them why you think this is the best one. Bring data to the table for your operational thinkers. Share examples of success. Use storytelling. Use  “what if we did nothing?” or “what else could we do?” scenarios so that your team can see why this is the best way forward.
  3. Ask for input and feedback early and often – Tell your Team that you’re still in the brainstorming stages and you want them to poke holes in the current plan. 

Once you have buy-in, how do you keep it?

  1. Communicate often – Clarify timelines, keep your direct reports and the Team updated on the progress. Document your various steps along the way on an open forum.
  2. Establish ownership – Use “we” and “us” when discussing the Team and the plan. These simple words will spread buy-in and a sense of belonging.
  3. Celebrate wins – Give credit to others when things go well. Take ownership of pitfalls.

What happens when you get crickets in a meeting? It could be one of three things. 

  1. Processing time – Make sure you are speaking at the speed of trust. Sometimes too much information can be overwhelming and people shut down.
  2. Fear –  They don’t want to pop your balloon, they don’t want to look stupid, they may have been burned in the past, or they are afraid of speaking up. You can eliminate most of the fear by developing trust and psychological safety.
  3. Indifference – They may be thinking, why fix it if it isn’t broken, we’ve always done it this way, we’ve tried that before, what can I do anyways, or glad I’m not at the helm! These statements are in contrast with continuous improvement. Don’t let your Team drift with these negative mind frames.

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” ~ Steve Jobs

Do you have newly promoted leaders that you want to thrive and master their added responsibilities and challenges? Then the Lead Well program is perfect for them. SIGN UP NOW by booking a free 30-minute consultation with Laura! Only a few spots left. The next session starts in the beginning of February!

J

Insanity

What insanity, wishful thinking, and complacency have in common is the belief that doing the same things over and over will create success.



Einstein famously remarked that a definition of insanity was doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. Presumably, he meant better rather than worse results. We won’t get healthier, for instance, by practicing the same habits that created our current condition.

Einstein’s definition is closely related to wishful thinking — doing the same thing over and over again and expecting BETTER results. Americans saw that problem play out in places like Afghanistan. With minor variations, the U.S. government did the same things repeatedly and expected things to improve rather than continue their downward spiral.

On the other hand, complacency is doing the same things repeatedly and expecting the SAME results. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” is fine for mechanical devices and rote tasks but shortens your path to ruin on almost everything else.
Sears expected their catalog-based shopping and mall-centered stores would continue delivering profits. They made only minor adjustments when the digital age arrived. Today, Sears is out of business while Amazon thrives. Blockbuster expected people to keep on coming to stores for movie rentals. Netflix crushed them. Toys R US face-planted. IBM saved a few bucks by renting instead of buying MS-DOS and went from the undisputed leader in the PC business to a humiliating exit from it.

Innovation is your complacency-vaccine. New practices and habits are the best ways to leap plateaus, shatter artificial barriers, and remove arbitrary finish lines. The best athletes vary their workouts. Military units alter the conditions under which they perform battle drills. The most agile thinkers read a variety of disciplines and views. Innovation keeps you out of comforting ruts.

The comfort zone for owners, consultants, and experts is a powerful intoxicant.

You’ve been successful, and there’s no reason, you believe, for future success to look much different than present success. This common condition is called presentism. Business failure begins with a lack of imagination.

What are you doing to boost innovation? Who are the mentors and advisers who will bring in the fresh air? What events will you attend that expand your perspective and help you see your future from new points of view?  

Accelerating your Success

Consulting Mastery is my 8-week mastery program for consultants and experts who want to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business and take it to new heights. This program, a variant of FOCUSED, orients exclusively on consultants and experts. I’ll run this program twice in 2022. We meet once per week for 90 minutes via zoom. The program begins in late January; only eight spaces are available. Your investment is $4500 by January 15; then, the fee rises to $5500. Most participants say that the program pays for itself in the first two weeks. Click here for more information and to apply.


Predictable unpredictability is a new reality. How will you help your clients thrive? The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in February. We’ll examine the most important 2022 forecasts for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

CEO Mastermind group
 is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me for coaching and advising. I’m limiting the group to 8. Four places are remaining. Reply to me for more details.

Biden
Biden

When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room.


I’ve admired President Biden since he visited our remote outpost in Afghanistan in 2008 and praised our paratroopers in a National VFW speech. I found his sincerity and open-mindedness refreshing, and he quickly got the importance of our relationship-building efforts to Afghans. Biden agreed that accumulating allies was more helpful than aggregating your enemies. He talks about that visit when he mentions the Kunar River Valley in his Afghanistan speeches.

I’m having difficulty reconciling his words in 2008 with his recent speech that branded half or more of his citizens as treasonous racists (here’s a favorable view of the speech). He deserves credit for building the most physically diverse cabinet in history and could benefit from boosting cognitive diversity among his advisers.

Just because people look different does not mean they think differently. Cognitive uniformity puts you in an echo chamber that leads to poor decisions. Confirmation bias is like freebasing your own gunpowder. When under stress, Reconcilers, like President Biden, tend to give excessive weight to the loudest and most pious voices in the room. [Stressed Pioneers, like Biden’s predecessor, often surround themselves with sycophants and become louder and more outrageous.]

Civil War General William Rosecrans, also a Reconciler, won a string of victories in Tennessee as his army captured Chattanooga. Battlelines drew together at Chickamauga. The Union generals nagged Rosecrans for particular places and reinforcements. The Confederates attacked when Rosecrans shifted forces to please a subordinate. The mass confusion led to a defeat that sent Union forces back to Chattanooga, and Rosecrans lost his job.

Lincoln and Eisenhower were Reconcilers, too, and valued cognitive diversity. They surrounded themselves with people committed to the common good who presented different points of view, respected each other, and challenged the leader’s thinking. This practice helped them to avoid super empowering the loudest and most pious. Their decisions weren’t always perfect, but they tended to avoid self-inflicted disasters.

Lincoln held the Union together, gained buy-in for the Emancipation Proclamation and the 14th Amendment, and won the war. Eisenhower amassed consensus to end the Korean War and build the interstate system, a large standing military, and a robust nuclear deterrent.

Cognitive diversity was also vital in the success of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. I highly recommend The Sword and the Shield (which is on my 2022 reading list) in which Peniel E. Joseph discusses Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (a Maverick) and Malcolm X (a Pioneer).\

Pioneers, Reconcilers, Operators, and Mavericks — our PROM archetypes — have distinct superpowers and different reactions when under significant stress (you tend to be your most extreme version). When you know this about yourself, you can sense the warning signs and avoid surrounding yourself with subordinates who egg you on to extremes. When you know your subordinates’ archetypes, you can recognize their stress reactions and take steps that bring them back to their best selves.

The value of history is not in teaching you what to think but in how it heightens your critical thinking skills, aids self-examination, and highlights the importance of gaining diverse perspectives from trusted sources. Freebasing gunpowder tends to create bad outcomes. Whose bringing in the fresh air for you?

Are you interested in using history to take your critical thinking skills to new heights and develop practical action steps that accelerate your success? Join me and seven others on March 15-18 for the Antietam & Gettysburg exclusive. When you have meaningful discussions with other extraordinary people at powerful venues, you gain perspective that pays dividends for life. There are three places still open.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

lessons

Last year’s life lessons translated into leadership lessons

Lessons

For me, 2021 was a transformative year. I left the world of education in June and joined the Strategic Leaders Academy on July 1 as a consultant and professional speaker. It made perfect senseI have been speaking about my experience in Iraq since 2004, and I have held leadership positions in almost every facet of my life since high school. I was ready, willing, and able for this next chapter in my life.

I am abundantly happier and less stressed now that I have more control over my life. Has it always been easy? No, not at all. I had to move from the public system to private, I had to learn to “speak business,” sell and market myself, network like there’s no tomorrow, and say goodbye to the many wonderful people I worked with as a principal. It was, however, the best decision I ever madethat, or I’m making the best out of my decisionwink wink.

I learned so much last year, especially in the past six months. Here are 21 of those lessons and how they translate into leadership:

1. The life of a principal is so tiresome that it was difficult to look for another job.

  • Make sure your employees and leaders have enough time to enjoy life and do things that can rejuvenate them. Also, how can we help the overworked school systems?


2. People are inherently good, but put them into a group with toxic people and that sludge will infiltrate even the best of people.

  • Hire the right people. Don’t compromise. If you need a body, hire on a temporary contract to see if it’s a good fit for you and them or don’t hire at all.

3. Values are not to be compromised. I was very close to doing so. I felt differently about how to deal with people than my superior. We never communicated about our fundamental values around this topic which could have alleviated a lot of stress from everyone involved.

  • Be explicit about your values and expectations so that you hire people who’ve bought-in to your core values. Don’t assume your employees have the same values as you. Have a conversation with them and make sure their values align with your Team’s common purpose, vision, and mission.

4. Autonomy, creativity, and innovation are inextricably linked.

  • The more autonomy your employees have, the more innovation and creativity will occur. This will also boost belonging and buy-in—a win/win.


5. Everyone has advice. All the time. No matter who you are or if you asked for it. Audit this advice. It has the power to overwhelm and shut down.

  • See my article on feedback for more information. Hire a trusted advisor to help you weed out the feedback that matters.


6. People act in mysterious ways.

  • You are the only person you can control. Sometimes it’s hard to “let it go,” but you will be much happier when you can move on from a difficult situation.

7. Control of my time sounds better in my head than in my guilty conscience. By that, I mean that even though I have complete control, it’s hard not to work all the time. Something always needs to be done.

  • Make sure your Team is taking their much-needed and much-deserved time off. If you lead by example, they will follow. If you show up to work before sunrise and leave after sunset, they will feel like they have to do the same and may become resentful.


8. There are so many amazing and wonderful people out there.

  • Get to know your Team on a personal level. It will make difficult conversations much easier with a solid foundation intact.


9.  Social Media is a time suck. I already knew this one, but I had never worked with LinkedIn before. I’ve found it especially challenging to make sure I’m doing what is best for my business while maintaining boundaries.

  • Keep track of how much time you spend on social media. Increase your productivity at work to increase your time off at home.


10. Talk at the speed of trust. As a type-A personality, I need to make sure that I’m not moving too fast for my clients.

  • Sometimes too much information can be damaging. Know who you’re talking to and how to talk to them.

11. It’s easy to get stuck in hypnotic habits.

  • So often we think we’re busting our humps at work, but in reality, we’re spending all of our time in emails and meetings without working on our business.


12. “Commission breath” is a real thing

  • Make sure you build trust before you start using the salesperson swagger.

13. Avoid “putting your great ladder along the wrong wall.”

  • Make sure your vision aligns with your outcomes. Otherwise, burnout is inevitable.


14. The longer you spend working within your strengths, the happier you’ll be and the more productive and innovative you will become.

  • For many, working on our weaknesses is a badge of honor, but it might not be a point of joy or passion. Delegate as much as possible and do what brings you joy to boost productivity at work.

15. My brain shuts down between 2 and 3 pm every day. This is my low point and when I need to take a break, go for a walk, or get a snack to re-energize.

  • Pay attention to your natural rhythms and align your work to those rhythms. For example, I am most productive in the morning. This is when I sit in the quiet and create. I try to have my meetings with others in the afternoons because they re-energize me and get me away from my screens.


16. It costs 50%-200% of someone’s salary to rehire for their position.

  • Putting people first is a must in today’s great recession. If you want to learn more about how this trend will continue, read this ebook—Demographic Drought


17. You have a choice. So many people have told me that they wish they could do what I did by quitting their 9-5 job.

  • Here’s the secret: YOU CAN! It’s a choice. We all have them. It’s about making the most out of the decisions you choose to make.


18. Living without fear is liberating. I am an all-in type of person. I love new experiences and I love to meet new people. From backpacking to Europe, to purchasing my first house as a single person, to marrying my husband in 4.5 months of meeting himmy lack of fear has provided me with abundant joy and amazing opportunities.

  • My lack of fear is based on realistic optimism and grit. I am one of the most fiscally conservative humans you’ll meet. Please tread lightly and logically with this one. But by all means, don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back.


19. Authenticity is key. I’m a people pleaser but the more I’m myself, the happier I am.

  • Choose you! You’re the only one we’ve got.


20. Rely on your network. When I’m stuck, down in the dumps, or need a thought partner, I have amazing individuals to reach out to. Thank you to Chris Kolenda and Jeff Marquez for being my top two go-tos!

  • Don’t try to lone-wolf it. Who do you go to when you need help? Remember, I’m here if you need me!


21.  Family Firstmy “why.” These four cuties are what make me the happiest. I love watching the kids learn and grow and become their own little humans. As long as I prioritize my family, I feel successful and they know they’re loved.

  • What’s your “why” and how can you prioritize that?
Lessons

2022: New Year’s Resolutions Fails – Remember, Determination is the Shortest Path to Success

I was putting in the miles on my bicycle, preparing for the 1700-mile Fallen Hero Honor Ride in September 2022. Three months into my training, I had made progress, but to reach my full potential and maximize my chances of success I needed professional support.

Cycling guru Chuck Kyle had me get my bike custom-fitted for my body, and he created a training regimen that worked for me. His advice, program, and accountability have been game-changers. I’ve leaped forward, and I’m getting stronger and faster.

I learned the hard way long ago that creating resolutions and trying to will yourself to success rarely works. You make your ritual New Year’s resolutions, gut them out in January, and fall off the wagon in February.  Just look at the gyms, yoga studios, or any other self-improvement venue. Attendance in January skyrockets; good luck finding an available machine or mat. By mid-February, everything’s back to normal. The regulars are still there; the New Year’s resolution newcomers are gone.

What’s happening?

It’s not a lack of dedication or willpower. It’s the simple human tendency to drift, to settle into comfortable routines, to return to familiar habits.

Napoleon Hill wrote about this phenomenon in Outwitting the Devil, which is one of the books on my 2022 reading list for leaders and consultants.

You tend to know your situation and what success and failure look like. You find that the habits that keep you drifting become hard to break. Willpower may create temporary success but will fail if you haven’t set up the steps to make new practices habitual.

Poor application creates further drag. No one ever learned to drive a car solely by reading a book or watching a TikTok video. You gain some knowledge but lack the customized skill transfer. Staying on track becomes harder.

Lone wolfing dooms your New Year’s resolution because you have no accountability to do the right things, the right ways, customized to you. You return to the old habits, drifting hypnotically toward the place you do not want to go.

2022

Determination is the shortest path to success. P3A is the secret to making it happen: set a clear purpose, establish the priorities and organize your time and activities to meet them, surround yourself with the right people to create customized implementation and accountability.

A trusted adviser will help you clarify your purpose, and provide you with the skills transfer, tailored-to-you application, and accountability so that you stay focused and meet your goals. As your confidence builds, you take more action and get better results. The cycle becomes self-reinforcing and creates new habits that propel you to new heights.

Imagine a bisecting line: mediocrity, and a timeline along the bottom. Your comfort zone pulls you toward mediocrity. Habits become hypnotic and act like compounding interest over time. The longer you drift, the harder it is to reach the determination line.

The determination process gets results. Chuck Kyle, David Newman, and Alan Weiss are trusted advisers who have encouraged me, kicked my butt, helped me build new habits, and enriched my life. I’ve learned not to waste time and emotional energy on New Year’s resolutions. Invest, instead, in your determination curve and the payoff will take your life and business to new heights.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

2022

Shortening your Path to Success

Consulting Mastery is my 8-week mastery program for consultants and experts who want to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable business and take it to new heights. This program, a variant of FOCUSED, orients exclusively on consultants and experts. I’ll run this program twice in 2022. We meet once per week for 90 minutes via zoom. The program begins in late January; only eight spaces are available. Your investment is $4500 by January 15; then, the fee rises to $5500. Most participants say that the program pays for itself in the first two weeks.

Click here for more information and to apply.

Consulting Masterclass. In this interactive, 90-minute masterclass on January 13, you will gain the action steps you need to establish your expert business or take your existing business to new heights.

1. How to carve your compelling niche: the three core ingredients to a successful expert business.

2. How to move your clients along the value chain that increases their results and your fees.

3. Setting solid foundations on the three most essential elements in taking your business to new heights.

4. Ways to innovate so that your business stays relevant to your clients and avoids complacency.

5. Action steps to maintain a positive trajectory and avoid the drift of most expert businesses.

I’ll take your questions during the event and remain available for an additional 30 minutes afterward. You’ll get a recording of the session.

By the end of this masterclass, you will have the actions you need to build a meaningful, joyful, and profitable expert business.

I will run two sessions of this program on January 13. Register by clicking on the session you want.
11 am – 1 pm US Central.
2:30 – 4:30 pm US Central. The fee is $279.

Predictable unpredictability is the new reality. 

How will you help your clients thrive?

The Innovation Mindset is an 8-week mastermind that begins in February. We’ll examine the most important 2022 forecasts for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. Each week, the group meets for 90-minutes to develop unique intellectual property that sets you apart from the pack (who’s always swinging behind the pitch) and gives you significant competitive advantages in serving your clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8; the fee is $5500. Reply to this email to see if the program is a good fit for you.

The Trusted Adviser Program is my most intensive 1-on-1 program. Within 90 days, you’ll gain sustainable habits that create breakthrough success. You get personalized coaching and support, strict accountability, and commonsense action steps that get results so that you reach your goals more quickly and consistently. Soar to new heights here.

CEO Mastermind group
 is for Milwaukee-area small business leaders and consultants who want to accelerate their growth in 2022. We meet monthly for lunch, and you get unlimited access to me for coaching and advising. I’m limiting the group to 8. Four places are remaining. Reply to me for more details.

I put together this 2022 influential book list to shorten your path to success and avoid wasting time on faddish nonsense or hyped-up drivel. 

book

Here is a QR code to the booklist for leaders and consultants.

No one ever learned to drive a car solely by reading a book. You’ve got to get behind the wheel and practice.

Reading and learning from mentors make practice more successful. You learn the signs and rules of the road, ways to increase fuel efficiency, proper maintenance practices, and how to lower risk.

Imagine the opposite — learning to drive solely by practice. Traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities would skyrocket, impaired driving would be endemic, people would waste more fuel, and burn out more engines and transmissions. If you’ve ever driven in places like Afghanistan, you know what I mean.

Experience is the most influential teacher of leadership. You have to be in the arena. Relying on experience alone, though, puts you in the school of hard knocks, where the tuition is painful for you and the people you are supposed to lead.

The rules of the road are relatively fixed. Once you learn good driving practices, you are good to go. Leadership is different because your marketplace is constantly evolving, so your application of sound leadership habits needs to grow, too.

People look to leaders to anticipate the future and figure out how to succeed in the face of new and unexpected situations. These challenges are where leaders tend to make the biggest mistakes, which happen even faster when growing or facing competition.

Having trusted advisors that guide you, and reading about the experiences of others who faced analogous situations during other times or contexts, improves your practice and builds your imagination to lead your team successfully.

My mission is to help successful people like you gain new heights by being the best version of yourself and inspiring people to contribute their best and most authentic selves to your team’s success.

Here’s a link to one of the books I have on my list:

Alan Weiss, Your Legacy is Now

Create meaning that delivers worth and impact.

 

Consultants

I Focused my Forecasts for 2022 and Beyond on Trends most Relevant for Small Businesses, Consultants, and Experts.

I’ll host an 8-week mastermind group in January to discuss the implications of these forecasts and others so that you can provide vital thought leadership to your clients and anticipate the future for your business.

1. The Inflation bubble bursts. Due to employee turnover and inflation, small businesses will fail at a historic rate. COVID has decreased tolerance of bad bosses and poor work environments. Inflation rises to 4% if BBB fails and 6% if BBB passes, forcing many poorly-led, low-margin small businesses to close. High-margin solo and expert businesses will thrive.

Consultant

2. Landgrabs. Russia and China seek to time moves against Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively, on signals that President Biden’s health fails. Iran and North Korea will do the same with their nuclear weapons and missile programs. A gulf state reveals its atomic weapons program in response to Iran’s.

3. Change for a BitCoin? Countries will begin to adopt crypto as alternate reserve currencies in response to America’s increasing weaponization of the dollar; investors will add crypto to their portfolios to hedge against inflation.

4. Trades strike back. Companies will lose confidence in supply chains that include overseas vendors. Local manufacturing and storage will rebound. Elite snobbery that the only road to a dignified professional life is an expensive 4-year degree will reduce. More people will enter trades and find substantial prosperity, independence, and joy.

5. Waking up to Woke. Businesses stop hiring consultants who pedal revenge racism and begin hiring people who improve teamwork. The best companies will hold CEOs and line managers responsible for diversity and inclusion; women and non-whites will gain a more significant share of P&L roles.

6. 280 characters fewer. Trust in conventional news outlets, experts, and punditry will continue declining, forcing at least one primary news channel, newspaper, and social media platform to close. People will turn increasingly to trusted advisers for perspective.

7. Revenge of the Nerds. Zillow Offers is the tip of an iceberg. Businesses that rely on AI platforms for customer relations and marketing will face significant setbacks because they act as a blunt instrument when customers expect concierge service. Hackers will learn to spoof AI decision-making tools by acting more like humans and luring machine decisions into unproductive corners.
  
8. AC Anyone? Climate change debates will shift towards alleviating the effects of rising sea levels and warmer temperatures. Wisconsin’s climate by 2040 will be like Tennessee’s in 2010.

9. Rolling Green-outs. Fossil fuels and nuclear power will make a comeback as a reliable base for energy supply. During extreme weather events, cities that rely on renewables will face significant power outages. Global predators will intensify cyberattacks against vulnerable power grids.

10. The open office is dead. Hybrid workplaces are here to stay. The most innovative companies will create in-office requirements based on need rather than arbitrary percentages. The most talented will seek jobs with those companies.

11. COVID theater closes. Companies will reduce wasteful activities that do little or nothing to stop the spread of COVID. The major media will reduce COVID-hype. The vaccinated will begin to revolt against COVID-control mandates because the virus is spread overwhelmingly by the unvaccinated and the vaccinated are tired of feeling punished. More businesses will require proof of vaccination or infection within the past six months for entry and employment. Vaccine boosters will be annual as COVID becomes endemic.

12. Big Red Resurgence. The Nebraska Cornhuskers football team will go to the BIG 10 championship game in 2022.

The Innovation Mindset Group is an 8-week mastermind that examines these trends and others for implications to small business leaders, consultants, and experts. We’ll meet for 90-minutes each week and develop unique thought leadership that will help you anticipate the needs of your businesses and clients. Your investment will pay for itself in a single sale. I’m limiting the group to 8. $4500 if you enroll by December 31, then the fee goes to $5500. Click here  https://bit.ly/3DTcL6C and scroll to the bottom to register to learn more about this limited time offer.

People mostly make decisions based on emotion and then rationalize the decision after the fact.

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!