OKG’s

I watched a press conference last week for a coach who had just been hired to take over a struggling basketball program. I have followed this coach on and off for a number of years as I coached against him when he was a collegiate player. He played incredibly hard, was fundamentally skilled and his name was Sundance. With that name how could you not follow and root for him. As I watched his press conference he repeated one phrase a few times that caught my attention and forced me to open my notebook up to scribble a few things down.

He kept using the phrase OKG. He must have said OKG three or four times before he explained what that meant. Our Kinda Guys.

When you hire, when you find prospects, when you put a team together – what are your kinda guys. Sundance was talking about getting his (our) kinda of people into his program and onto his team. Our company (Polaris Solutions) goes through a lengthy hiring process to make sure we get OKG’s. A few weeks ago one of our clients mentioned  how impressed he has been with each person from our consulting company. He followed that statement up with questions about our hiring practices and how we develop our employees. Simple now – we get OKG’s. The list of traits that he used to describe us were – passionate, driven, collaborative, problem solver and intelligent. If you were to look at our team, this would be a sample of what makes up our OKG’s.

If you are building your team, department or company – I would encourage you to have a list of exactly what your OKG’s are. What are you looking for, what are the non-negotiables that you must have that make up your kinda guys/gals. I would be interested in hearing what are the traits you look for when finding Your Kinda Guys.

First priority of a leader.

Listening to Lewis Howes interview with Urban Meyer (Head Football Coach at Ohio State) – Some great quotes and thoughts on teams and leadership.

The first and most important job of a leader is to earn Trust. You can only push and lead a person as far as they trust you.

Two things every player and employee needs – Hope and Opportunity.

  • You eliminate either of those two its combustible – it will explode.
  • Its our job as coaches to make sure every player has hope and opportunity.

What builds more character – someone that wins a lot or someone that loses a lot?

Do your habits reflect your dreams and goals – if not, then change.

First thing to eliminate from your team.

I’ve only kicked a basketball at a player once. I missed his head and instead hit a window. Not my greatest moment but as I learned that day, every coach has pet peeves and it is up to players or employees to figure these out, steer clear of them and distribute this information to the group. My top three pet peeves that my players quickly picked up on were – Don’t be late for anything, Don’t blame anyone for mistakes and Don’t say I, Me, Mine. For whatever reason those three behaviors on teams that I coach, drive me crazy. It’s quite simple, Be on time, own mistakes so we can improve and say We, Ours and Us. Simple…right.

 

For about 15 years I have made it a point that when I was with a head coach, boss or director that I would say things like:

  • Your team -Your company
  • You should feel good about this or that
  • That will really make you better
  • I’m sure you will win with this or that.
  • That sales opportunity will be great for your company.

 

I’ve said things like this for literally 15 years and never has anyone, a coach, executive or leader ever stopped and corrected me to say Us or Ours or We. Until last year when I was stopped and corrected. I took note of this and smiled because I’ve often wondered who would be the person to finally make that correction. A coach that I admire once said “You dont work for someone, you work with someone.” When I was corrected I remember thinking this – you dont work for me, we work together.

 

Last night I had a late online meeting with 10 co-workers. We are all currently at the same client working on a variety of software related projects. We meet every few weeks to discuss where we are with our projects, what we can do collectively to help one another and make strategy decisions to help position our client for success. During this meeting I was speaking about our team and the success we have been having – but I framed it as if I was not a part of or included in the success in the project. Literally all of them stopped and corrected me at the same time to make sure I was included and acknowledged in the team’s success. “Quit saying your or them..Say We – you’re a part of this” – Perfect!

First thing you need to do with your teams. Stop everyone from saying I, Me, Mine – get everyone to say We, Ours and Us. Build a team and community where everyone has a sense of ownership and inclusion. That everyone is important and valued. That we are a team.

 

Notice the people that consistently say I, Me, Mine – correct them. Build that standard within your culture.

Quick Hit #6 – Review your Strategy

Lewis Howes – School of Greatness podcast is a must listen to if you are looking for subtle or massive ways to improve your life or business. On one of his podcasts this week he talks about every Sunday sitting down and spending 30 minutes reviewing your strategy for the week, the month and the quarter.

Thoughts from Lewis:

  • What is the strategy we are going to create for this week, this month and this quarter.?
  • What is the strategy for us to get ahead?
  • Where are we going?
  • How can we innovate?
  • The people and companies that are winning have a clear strategy?
  • How is this strategy working?
  • How is it not working?
  • Am I growing and learning or am I maintaining?

Business owners – LH: “when is the last time you had a business strategy session with your business partner, your team, your coach/mentor – for where you are headed.” Lewis does it every Monday and Friday. He is constantly developing a strategy – “we are researching the science of our mission and the results we get each day and week.”

When I look at this list and when I was listening to Lewis I keep coming back to one thought – If I am going to encapsulate these ideas, thoughts and create an action plan around them…

  • I must be open to realizing I can do better.
  • There are ways for me to improve.
  • Someone else may have better answers.
  • I don’t know everything.
  • My way isn’t always the right way.

Ray Dalio’s book ‘Principles’ he talks at length about ‘Radical Open-Mindedness – how this level of introspection changed his leadership style and ultimately how his company functioned. He also talks about the most important thing to get to is the truth or the right answer. He doesn’t care where the truth or the right answer comes from – he just cares they get to it.

LH: “People fail because they don’t have a strategy” – where are we going.

The world is innovating, evolving and changing – by constantly developing a strategy and being open minded – we get to innovate, evolve and change too. Review your strategy, be radically open-minded and get to the truth.

Quick Hit #5 – Bigger than Branson & Oprah

The impact I will have on my community and profession is going to be at least a two times multiplier of the impact Oprah and Richard Branson have had..combined. That is quite a statement and goal to undertake. If I were to say this statement to friends and my professional peers I wonder how many eye rolls and brush offs I would get? If I continued to say it every time I was around a group of people, I wonder how long it would take before people cut me off and said, “yeah, yeah we get it.. Branson and Oprah”.

Gary Vaynerchuk made these statements this week:

  • You take Oprah and Richard Branson and you combine them – I’m looking at a serious multiplier of the impact I will have.
  • Everyone will know my name, I will have a greater impact than both of them.
  • I am going to buy the NY Jets one day.

It was another statement he made that impacted me more this week. “My actions back up the words that come out of my mouth.” Meaning the outrageous goals he sets are backed up with action. I had a player that would never stopped talking about playing in the NBA, he was never in the gym early or late. He never got in extra work, didnt do anything in the off season. Yet he never stopped talking about the NBA. That gets tiresome pretty quick as a leader and coach. I don’t doubt Vaynerchuck, he seems to knock out whatever he says he is going to do.

I was out to lunch a few weeks ago with some friends when the topic of five to ten year goals came up. We went around the table and quickly rattled off a few things that each of us would like to accomplish in that time frame. A few nods, a glossed over look from most, and a “ok..ok..sounds good” followed my list. When the subject circled around to one person he quickly said his list of one “I will be financially independent and be able to do whatever I want to do the rest of my life by 40.” Everyone at the table had the same response. “Yep, I see that happening” Everyone knows this person is going to reach that goal – his actions match his words and goals.

Tony Robbins this week: “Don’t worry about the how – focus on the what first.”

My friend may not know his how – and he actually did say that. “I am not sure exactly how I will do that – but I know I will.” There wasn’t a person at the table that doubted his what and that he would figure out his how.

Lessons –

  • Set big goals
  • Make sure actions match words/goals
  • Don’t worry about the how – get your what down.
  • Someone that talks about big goals without action – will wear people out.

 

Quick Hit #4 – Sweep the Shed

I was listening to a podcast recently where the guest made the comment “Sweep the Shed”. The context of this was making sure that when you leave an area that you leave it in better condition then when you arrived. I have long held this belief and made this a high priority with teams I have coached. The idea of taking pride in what you have, being considerate with what others have and the jobs others have to do.

After games that I have coached I now simply tell my team to “sweep the shed” and they immediately know to get to the bench, pick up trash and straighten the chairs. It is not someone else job to do these things – its our job. We have also been in board rooms where we are the last to leave and a few of us will stick around to sweep the shed and put the room back to how it should be. We take pride with what we have and don’t leave jobs for others to do. I was with a client last week where the director said after a lengthy board room meeting, “Our CEO gets extremely upset when these rooms are not put back together after they are used.”

If you want to see this in in action – click on the twitter link below. After watching this I know exactly how you will feel about this player. The comment from the person that tweeted this says it all. “..Says a lot about his character, his coach and his team.”

Sweep the Shed…

Quick Hit #3 – 3 Buses Leave

A few weeks ago I was able to take my boys to their first NBA game down in Memphis (we live in St. Louis). We pulled them from school for the day and drove 4 hours to Tennessee with a friend and his daughter. We turned the day into a learning and teaching experience for all the kids, making stops at the Lorraine Hotel and the Civil Rights Museum. We all learned some great lessons at the museum and from the video stands that line the Lorraine Hotel grounds. We also learned a valuable lesson while waiting for players for the Milwaukee Bucks at their hotel.

One of my former players has become the General Manager for the Milwaukee Bucks so we were able to get free tickets from him and luckily he was able to spend an hour with us prior to the game. I recruited Jon (GM) when he was 18 years old and he wound up playing for me for 4 years in college. We sat for an hour and reminisced about his college days and we talked at length about how the business of the NBA works. Jon made a comment that really caught my attention, I stopped him mid-sentence and brought my two boys over to hear exactly what he had just said.

“Where is Giannis (Milwaukee’s best player and NBA All-Star)?” I asked. Jon responded – “Giannis is a first bus guy”. In the NBA, three buses leave the hotel for the arena every hour on the hour. Some players in the NBA are first bus players, others are on the third bus. Jon mentioned, “We have to get as many first bus guys that we can.”

I stopped Jon and looked at my boys and said do you understand what he just said. “Giannis is a first bus guy, he is already at the arena. He is out early on the court working to get better at his game. He is there 3 hours before any one else. He also happens to be their best player. He is also an NBA All-Star. Third bus players are essentially getting to the arena when the game starts.”

Now I think of my career and the decisions I have made in an attempt to become an All-Star. In some ways I am a first bus guy, and in many ways I am still on the hotel couch waiting for the third bus. If we take a snapshot of our companies and teams – we know who the first bus people are, the people that are always early and staying late, grinding it out for the company, clients, and professional advancement – working to be an All-Star. We know the third bus players too – and I am sure at some point the GM rolls his eyes and says “we need more first bus guys.”

I need to have a first bus mindset in all that I do, not just in my work. In the areas where I am a third bus guy, I need to review the schedule and make some changes to get on that first bus. I would encourage us all to take inventory of our professional lives and honestly ask ourselves – which bus do I get on?

Quick Hit #2 – Ray Dalio – Success Steps

I am currently reading a must read book called ‘Principles’ by Ray Dalio – Ray is the founder of Bridgewater Associates, one of the largest hedge funds in the world. His book is based on the principles he has developed over 30 to 40 years running his company.

I just finished the first section where he talks about his five steps to success.  I thought I’d share these since they have made their way into my notes and thoughts.

  1. Have clear goals.
  2. Don’t tolerate problems that stand in the way of achieving these goals.
  3. Diagnose the problems to get at the root cause of them.
  4. Design plans that will help you get around the problems.
  5. Do what is necessary to push these designs  through to results.

To pull some thoughts from the start of this section. “First you have to pick what you are going after – your goals…you will encounter problems. If you must be calm and analytical so you can accurately diagnose your problems, design a plan that will get you around your problems and do what is necessary to push through those problems to get results”

I am not sure about you – I am great at number one and horrible from 2 through 5. Tony Robins Quote: “Remember: we all get what we tolerate. So stop tolerating excuses within yourself, limiting beliefs of the past, or half-asses or fearful states.” When problems come up with my goals, I am very quick to say “well, I cant do that..next.”

Ray outlines some useful steps to push through step 2.

For more information on Ray Dalio: Principles

Quick Hit #1 – Add soap to the bucket

Heard a story from Andy Frisella on his podcast this morning about why people cant crossover from good to great. The example that he give is if you were to wash your car using a bucket, soap, water and a sponge but you failed to put the soap in the bucket. How clean would your car be? It would be cleaner – but not as clean had you used the soap. Most people would be fine with having a cleaner car – some people would be irritated that the car is not as clean as it should be.

I use a phrase with my children – “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over”. I continue to coach/teach my boys that “good enough” isn’t how champions or successful people think. Doing their best – giving that last 2% is where people that make a difference live.

People cant make that crossover because they don’t give that last 2%, or they don’t use every resource that is available to them. Frisella goes on to mention that people cant make that crossover because they just don’t know or are unaware of what is going on around them and they cant adjust to the changes. They don’t see the soap next to the bucket, they don’t think they need it, or they are comfortable with a cleaner car – but not a perfectly clean car.

I for one need to be more aware of the resources I have around me, tap into those resources more frequently to make what I am doing perfectly clean instead of just being “good enough”.

Andy Frisella’s Podcast can be found HERE : Warning…He is very ‘loose’ with his language – if that offends you – then you should pass on his podcast.

Who Really Wants This Money?

I subscribe to the mindset of ‘garbage in – garbage out’. So I try to make sure that I am always watching and reading things that educate me, uplift me or generally allow me to have a more positive daily outlook. Every night for the past few years, I will find a standup comedian on Netflix and listen to some comedy as I fall asleep. This has gone on for a few years and for the past year I have been on a Jim Gaffigan marathon. He has five Netflix specials (one for each kid he says) that I cycle through on a weekly basis. Gaffigan tells a number of stories about how fat he is getting and he has a number of routines centered on food. During one of his stories he makes the comment “Who wants to be thin, healthy and attractive? Argh, Not me. Really, Try Everyone!”

So 2018 has begun. Like many others, I have set some goals for this year, this quarter and even this week. I am locked in and ready to knock it out in 2018. I sit here though and wonder how is this year going to be any different than 2017. I set goals in 2017, I wrote things down, evaluated their progress and worked towards some specific professional and personal objectives. Why wasn’t 2017 an A+ for me? Driving into work I kept thinking about Gaffigan which seems strange given this context. I hear him asking, “Who wants to be thin, healthy and attractive? Everyone!” As I repeat that in my mind I shifted the thought to, who wants to be successful, valued, intelligent, driven and motivated? Everyone! Everyone wants those things. Everyone wants a great 2018. So why is it that when we review our year in December, we give ourselves a grade of a C or C+. The answer is simple for me. I do a great job of evaluating, thinking, documenting, planning and prioritizing what I want to accomplish in a given year. What I fail to do is take ‘massive action’ as Tony Robbins calls it, on any of these goals I’ve created for myself. I simply fail to execute.

A close coaching friend paints this illustration when he speaks to large groups. He holds up a $20.00 bill and asks who wants it. He typically is speaking to high school aged groups. When he holds the $20.00 up every hand in the room gets raised. He continues to ask this group, “Who really wants this money? I don’t believe it. Who really wants it?” Sometimes this goes on for 4 to 5 minutes with him continuing to ask, “Who really wants it?” At some point one of the kids will get out of their seat, walk up to him and take the $20.00 out of his hand. After the money has been exchanged he asks them. “What’s the difference between wanting the money and getting the money? It requires ACTION. You can want all day long, you’re never getting the money.” This year our hands have to stop being raised, we have to stop asking for permission, we have to stop wanting, we have to get out of our seat and take the money.

Who wants to be successful, valued, intelligent, driven and motivated? Everyone does! Although most of us refuse to take ‘massive action’. There are many reasons behind why we continue to sit with our hands raised and remain seated, and others get up and grab the money. There are two reasons why I am still in my chair with my hand up, although there are countless others and other that may limit you.

The first reason why I personally wind up with a C every year is embarrassment. We don’t take these massive steps to reach our goals simply because of the thought of what others may think. What if someone laughs, what if someone is smarter and wants to flex their intellectual muscles, what if I fail and it becomes public. It would be another sad year if we spent it stagnant on account of someone else’s opinion or thoughts. When I work with teams and young people I tell them one thing when it comes to dreams and goals. The people that tear you down, the people that tell you that you cannot accomplish your goals and dreams are the people that have already given up on theirs. They tell you these things to bring you down to their level because they have already quit and their C to C+ improvement and passion for life is acceptable. My 2018 decision is to move forward in spite of the thoughts others may have or the responses I may receive. Theodore Roosevelt has a quote that has been titled “The Man in the Arena”. Essentially he says in this quote, the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, not the critic. In 2018 I would encourage all of us to enter the arena and take massive action on our plans for the year. A goal of mine this year is to get out of my chair and start speaking more at conferences and engaging more with people in the spaces I am passionate about. This year I am going to enter that arena and the critic can point – at least I am in the arena.

The second reason for me why I fail to take massive action on my yearly goals is simply because it is hard to do. Simple enough right, it is hard. Let me explain it this way. At some point when the enthusiasm of a new year wears off, I have to continue to grind it every single day to achieve these great things I planned. As the grind goes on day after day and into the weeks, my mind starts to tell me that a C+ year is actually not that bad, it becomes acceptable. I work with a group of people every week and the thought I left them with last week was “That which you don’t hate you will tolerate”. We have to hate not improving, we have to hate not knocking out a weekly goal that gets us close to a monthly or yearly goal. We have to hate not providing value to those closest to us or people we work with or our clients. We have to hate it the items that get me closer to my objectives have gone three days without being considers or completed. We have to hate having another C+ year. If we learn to hate these things in our life we will learn to no longer tolerate them and our C+ year can become the A+ year we thought we’d have in January.

What does 2018 hold for you? What plans do you have, what are you doing daily to reach for them? What are your limiting beliefs that will creep up to stop you from reaching them? Mine are embarrassment and tolerating another average year. I am on Chapter 3 page 16 of my 2018 book. So far it has been a decent book, still hovering around a C but I am working towards that B+ A- range. My hand is raised and I have made my intention clear, I want the $20.00 and Ill be damned if I am going to sit in this chair all year long.