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Today is the last day to have a shot at purchasing the book package that goes along with my latest book Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy. It’s been a long and busy campaign, and I’ve learned a lot from putting it out there.

I’ll be the first to admit that the campaign overall wasn’t as successful as I might have hoped it would be. The sales didn’t come close to matching up to the traffic that went to the site. Still, it is a book on leadership, which may be a necessary topic but isn’t quite a sexy one.

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Not that it was the only thing I’ve been concentrating on for the past six weeks, but now I can at least put it behind me, put an image over on the left and get on with the regular business of… business, life, leadership, health care… all of that.

It all needs to start by having better days. By better days I mean mentally and physically. I’ve done a lot of reading on how the rich do things the rest of us don’t do. Some of it I don’t believe, but there are a few things I do believe, and those are the things I’m going to touch on here.

All of us want better days. Turns out we can make better days by starting the day off differently than we might normally do, and if we need to adjust in the afternoon we can still recover and turn it into a pretty nice day… without drugs, alcohol or, dare I say, coffee (I don’t drink coffee so this is for y’all lol)?

Yes, I believe this. Yes, I have lived this… sometimes. I need to live it more often though, and to try to get myself to do it more often I decided to share 5 things that help me have better days, which might help you as well.

1. Plan your day. I find that my most productive days happen when I put everything down based on time frames that I want to do. I usually do it late at night, sometimes just before I go to bed. It actually helps clear my mind so I’m not trying to remember everything and most of the time I sleep better, which helps me wake up better.

2. Whether you wake up on your own or by alarm, give yourself 5 or 10 minutes in bed to get your mind fully alert. This is a definite ritual of mine; the only deviation is if I really have to go to the bathroom.

Sometimes I scan email on the phone just to see if anything looks pressing. Sometimes I go through Flipboard to see what’s going on in the world. Sometimes I just lay there breathing and thinking, assessing how I feel and getting myself geared up for another day.

3. Start the morning with music. If I have a meeting and need to take a shower, I have a tape player (yes, I said a tape player lol) in the bathroom where I play through my voluminous collection of cassettes. If I don’t have a meeting I come to the computer and put on either opera, Michael Jackson music of a category of songs I put together called “motivation”.

4. Possibly eat something. This one is tough because I’m not usually hungry first thing in the morning. However, since I’ve started walking a lot for exercise and glucose control (I’m diabetic) I’ve found myself waking up to low numbers, which makes my mind a little shaky and I don’t always think straight.

Because I don’t like to eat a lot in the morning, and for some odd reason I’m not as crazy about toast as I was as a kid, I buy Honey Grahams and, as an extra boost, I put peanut butter on them. Let’s face it, in my mind peanut butter goes with everything. Besides that it’s relatively low in carbs and calories and helps me to get to the next stage of eating some time later.

5. This one is new to me, so it’s yet to become a habit. I’ve started writing a gratitude journal in the mornings. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular or even particularly long. Overall, my goal is to write 3 or 5 things that I’m grateful for or relatively happy about when I wake up. What happens is, if you can think of things that you’re happy for early on, it helps to make the rest of the day go better because you’ve started out on a good note.

That’s my 5 things; I hope they don’t sound too hokey. What types of things do you do to get started on the right path every morning, if you do anything?
 

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Since last year I did a post titled 13 Leadership Lessons From 13 Years In Business, I guess it’s easy to discern that this is the anniversary of my 14th year.

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From my perspective I feel like it’s kind of a big deal and yet it’s not. There are people who’ve been in business longer than me. There are people who have been in business way shorter than me but are better at it than I am. In essence, what 14 years proves is that somehow I’ve survived to get to this place where the overwhelming majority of small businesses never arrive. So, only for that reason, I take a moment for myself.

Last year’s post was pretty epic; don’t believe me because I said it, just click on the link above. Yet it only got a couple of comments. Frankly, I’m not up for writing something extremely long like that this time around, though knowing me it’ll be long when I’m done; track record. lol

Instead, I’m just going to give 14 thoughts that hopefully won’t be all that long and we can get out of here and go get some cake; oh yeah, I’m planning on cake. :-) Let’s get started.

1. Before you even think about going into business for yourself, whether it’s solo or you’re going to have employees, make sure to read Rich Dad’s Before You Quit Your Job: 10 Real-Life Lessons Every Entrepreneur Should Know About Building a Multimillion-Dollar Businessicon by Robert Kiyosaki. This book wasn’t around when I decided to go it alone but I’d have hoped I would read it before I took a chance. I don’t think it would have stopped me from taking the plunge but I’d have known more than I did at the time I decided to give it a shot.

2. Put away enough money to last you at least six months without any new income. I kind of got lucky in that I got 6 weeks of severance, all my vacation pay, and still got to collect unemployment, although I put that off until severance was over. It wasn’t close to six months of money and it put an early strain on our finances.

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3. If you’re married make sure you have full approval of your spouse. I was lucky once again because my wife felt I had the intelligence to make it work; wow, was she wrong!

4. Why was she wrong? Because of two reasons. One, I wanted to do one thing with my new business to the detriment of what I actually knew. Two, because the one thing I knew nothing about was marketing. Marketing, promotion, branding… these are actually the most important things for any business and I didn’t know any of it. So I flopped early.

5. Just because someone’s been in business a long time doesn’t mean they know how to help you. I went looking for some assistance and folks I ran into locally told me about a program the state helped to fund where I could get some information. Unfortunately, as nice as the guy was that I talked to, in the long run he wasn’t any help at all. At that point I didn’t trust any of the people from organizations like that, including our small business administration.

6. The first gig I ever got was doing some work for a guy who I’ve always considered as kind of a mentor for me named Charles Conole. What I was making was $25 an hour plus a percentage of whatever cash I could bring in from collection accounts. In essence, I was initially making less than I had been making from my previous job but some of that collection money wasn’t all that depressing. It taught me that one needs to take a serious look at how you charge for services once you’re on your own.

7. The first gig where I got paid for actually being a professional was from a guy named Jim Yarsinsky. I still have no idea how he found me but he reached out to me to do a medical billing training at a hospital in New Jersey. He paid me a nice rate and it was my first out of state excursion. I’ve done more work because of him than anyone else over all my years so I have to thank him for that.

8. Sometimes you have to be ready to reinvent yourself on the fly. I started out doing leadership and business issues that involve employees (diversity, communications, etc). I fell back into health care finance because it pays the best. Along the way I became a professional speaker, a writer, a SEO and blogging expert, a budgeting authority and a computer repair person; whew! At least I never wore a cartoon character costume like another consultant I know did once to make a buck. lol

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9. I learned that it’s not always what you know that determines whether things will work out or not. I’ve had some nice successes because I was able to work with people who let me establish myself and my vision, while trying to make everyone better. That sounds pretty nice doesn’t it?

However, you find that sometimes it’s just not going to work out that way. When companies expect you to know what they want rather than tell you what they need you’re going to fail. When people in charge have a different agenda than yours, no matter your ethics and your competence you’re going to fail. In those cases, because you never know going in that’s what’s going to happen, it’s better to get out fast.

Out of the four times it happened I got out three of them fast… but only two of them were of my own volition. The third… no way I’d have seen it coming, and it was probably the most crushing of all. The fourth… well, I ended up having to sue a guy for payment and prove once and for all that people shouldn’t mistake kindness for weakness.

10. This one might be strange after I talked about the process of reinvention at #8 but don’t do just anything for money, especially if you’re not comfortable with it. Something that continually happened early on is being contacted by a lot of people who had “business propositions” for me where I could make “a lot of money”.

Turns out all of them really wanted to use me to market for them without saying it. It still happens a lot now, only I’m a bit more savvy… most of the time anyway. I now make people tell me before we go too far what this opportunity is. If they don’t tell me I’m not interested. If they tell me something where I’m not working as a true partner, I’m not interested.

My belief is that if you’re not comfortable doing something, you not going to do it well. I couldn’t figure out how these people thought I could market my own business and theirs at the same time. Not only that but who would put their reputation on the line recommending someone you don’t really know? Don’t ever do that; once your reputation is smeared it’s hard to get it back under control.

11. It is and isn’t always about the money. How’s that for a dichotomy? This isn’t along the lines of #10, although that’s a part of it.

I’ve had offers to do a bunch of things where I was offered a nice bit of money that I declined. I’ve left clients, as I mentioned in #9, where I was getting paid pretty good money but realized I wouldn’t be able to be effective. In this way it’s not about the money.

In another way it really is all about the money. When someone seems willing to pay you as the professional you are, you have to be ready to figure out your value and stick to it as much as you can. When you work on your own, you might have long gaps where you’re not bringing in any new money. You still have lots of expenses and bills you have to pay. Sometimes you have to do research to complete the work you’re being paid for.

Never sell yourself short, like I did with my very first gig, and like I did when I did a two-day diversity training for someone locally where I got paid a total of $400; I still want to slap myself for that. Someone else once wanted to pay me less than the contract because, last minute, they changed the parameters of what I was going to do for them after I’d spent two weeks preparing. I declined, and luckily an intermediary stepped in and convinced them they should honor their agreement; thanks Mr. Ringold!

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12. At #4 I talked about the importance of learning how to do business. Something else you need is courage, fortitude, self confidence and the ability to motivate yourself. Trust me, you’re going to have periods when you get depressed; there’s just no getting over that. I say take some time, be depressed, and then learn how to get out of it.

The strange thing about short periods of depression is that, at least for me, it makes me tired. When that happens, I usually take a nap and up to an hour, wake up, feel refreshed and ready to go again. I keep horrible hours, so those brief naps are often what I need to help me refocus on what needs to be done. It might be different for you; that’s why there’s this thing called variety.

13. Here’s a lesson I’ve learned but don’t really follow through on… learn to relax. I’m bad at this one because my mind is always working, and will probably always work until I have that $10 million in the bank… that should scare me.

Actually, I have picked my spots here and there. For instance, I’m not above taking myself out to lunch just to get out of the house. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of walking, not only for my health but because it helps me clear my head. I don’t go to the casino as much as I used to so I don’t have a true hobby anymore, so what I’ll do is grab my Nook and take 15 to 20 minutes to find something to read. And we have this thing called social media, which allows us to talk to friends and family all over the world and sometimes still market; what a concept!

Still, I haven’t been on a vacation since 1999, though I’ve traveled a lot for work and conferences, as has my wife. Neither of us actually misses it but it’s something to consider. So, it’s great advice… that one day I might take.

14. Nothing is perfect. I’ve made it 14 years with major ups and downs. Some things have come easily; others not so much. Yet I always believe, and eventually things come around and I’m ready to progress and prove myself once again to someone.

Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, you always have another day to make things better for yourself. If you succeed early on, good for you. If not… tomorrow take another shot at it, and another, and another. Just like I’m taking another shot at selling my latest book, Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, by mentioning it in this post (cheap plug lol), and I’ll keep mentioning it until I’m famous… well, maybe not that long…

It’s okay to be happy and it’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be great and not so great. It’s okay to take your shot or not take your shot. Just be you, be the best you can be, be the happiest you can be, and always remember that you’re in control of your own destiny… even if it depends on someone else figuring out how great you are! :-)

That’s all I’ve got; whew! No wonder there was only one post on this blog this week…
 

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By now, if you’re a reader of this blog, my other blog, my articles on LinkedIn or all my advertising on Twitter, you know that I’m pushing my latest book titled Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy. For another two weeks I’m offering a package deal; after that I’m just selling the book on its own and the other offers go away.

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In my mind, the strangest question I’ve been asked is why I wrote a book on leadership. I keep thinking it’s an odd question because most of the articles on this site are geared towards leadership. My first book was on leadership. Most of my products are geared towards leadership. I love talking about the concept of leadership, reading about it, talking about it with others. So, in my mind it initially seemed like a strange question.

That is, until I started thinking about how the majority of people know me. Odd as it might seem to those of you who only read this blog (all 10 of you lol) but most people know me for other things. I’m not one of the best known people in the world by any means, but I do have an audience; just not necessarily for leadership.

Most people know me for blogging and social media. Does that seem strange? Well, my blog I’m Just Sharing is my most popular blog. On Twitter, more people follow me for the two terms I mentioned above than they do on leadership. In the general blogosphere, that’s what most people know me for; on Google Plus it’s the same. LinkedIn folks know me more for leadership; I have no real idea what Facebook people think about me. :-)

Why is that? I pretty much attribute it to two things. One, most of the blogs I’ve commented on are people who talk about those subjects. I do comment on blogs that talk about leadership but most of those people don’t ever respond to comments. Thus, most leadership blogs are fairly barren; there’s no real community.

Two, for many people the topic of leadership is for older people. I don’t necessarily mean “old people”, but older. Whereas I’ve had conversations with younger people about blogging and social media, the overwhelming majority of people who’ll talk to me about leadership are over 35.

For someone like me that seems strange. I was in my first leadership position before I turned 25, and have been in leadership way more years than in the employee ranks. When I was a kid I was always the leader, the guy who picked teams. In college I ran the bowling league and a few other things.

For me, there wasn’t a question that I wanted to be the leader. Yet, when I think back on it, there was never any real conversation about leadership with anyone but my dad. I never even knew if there were any books on leadership until after I wrote my first one in 2002; isn’t that strange?

Truthfully, that was the reason I wrote my first book on leadership… because I didn’t know there were any other books on the market. I knew there were leadership trainers, but the closest person to anything leadership related I’d heard of (not including religious people or athletes) was Anthony Robbins, and he’s not really leadership. What a shock I got after I wrote my book and started doing a bit more research to find out there there were other books already on the market; ugh! lol

Yet, I’d have still written my book because, since I hadn’t read any other books, I still had my own point of view. It was wonderful finding out later that most people who write about leadership, even if they advocate a different style, agree with me on the topic. Not that I didn’t already suspect that after an incident with the only leadership training I ever received.

True, I did write another short book on online marketing, but leadership is pretty much a passion of mine. I love health care finance also because I’m good at it, but that’s not a group that likes reading all that often; trust me on this one. lol If it doesn’t have to do with regulation, Medicare or Medicaid, or denials they’re not reading what I have to say, which is odd because the most popular article I’ve ever written on this blog involved something called RAC Audits; if you’re not in health care don’t ask. lol

Anyway, that’s why I wrote my first book on leadership, and why I put together a second book on the same topic. Next Wednesday is my 14th anniversary in business, and I expect I’ll have some kind of post acknowledging it. Who knows, maybe I’ll unveil a 3rd book on leadership on that day… nah! :-)
 

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I really need to start saving links to articles I read that I either agree or disagree with. In this case, I was reading an article where the author was saying that not only should leaders be open with everything in their lives with employees but that they should show all employees that they trust them from the very beginning by allowing them to find their own way.

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I cringed when I read it because it’s something I totally disagree with. I do feel that trust is a major leadership trait… when it’s earned. I also believe that employees need to prove that they deserve to be trusted.

Let’s start with leaders. Anyone in a position of leadership who believes that employees should just trust them because they’re in charge is clueless of how the concept of trust works. You really only get away with that kind of thing in the military, and even there those in leadership positions have been trained over a long period of time to be there.

In the military, new recruits have to immediately trust leadership because they’re going to be pushed to the limit to see what they’re made of. They’re going to learn how to protect themselves and their fellow soldiers, and they’re going to learn how to kill; that’s just a reality.

In business, the stakes are much different. Many managers haven’t been trained to be true leaders. So, when employees start working with them, many times they notice personal agendas take precedence over the job. After a while, they learn to distrust anything that person has to say. Then, when they changed jobs, they immediately distrust the next person in charge based on track record.

That’s why it’s important for leaders to take actions to gain the trust of employees. The best thing about being a good leader is having new employees come into the office and the current employees will extol the virtues of the leader. The leader still needs to verify the trust given, but it makes life a lot easier for everyone involved.

What about employees earning trust? In health care, it’s imperative that every employee who goes into a new organization earn the trust of those they report to, as well as the trust of those they work with.

Why? Because whether the worker is a health care technician of some kind (including nurse) or in any other area of the hospital, there are rules that not only govern employees in the hospital but hospitals themselves. These rules are there to protect again patient harm and financial chaos.

Just because someone came from another hospital and already has some skills doesn’t mean that they’re immediately believed to be competent. There are a lot of people with time in health care who do sloppy work. There are a lot of people on the financial side who you’ll discover don’t know a lot of simple rules because they never had to deal with them where they were before.

The costs are high. Not only are their fines but hospitals can be stripped of their licenses and, in worse cases, patients could die. Imagine other industries where that’s something you have to deal with every single day (of course there are other industries where that’s a part of daily life).

Even if other industries aren’t dealing with issues that crucial, there’s still a level of danger they need to guard against. How often are we reading stories of embezzlement or fraud at companies? How often are we reading about employees who went off the deep end and got violent, only to learn that other employees had worried about that particular employee? How often do we read about some disaster that occurred because an employee without proper training came against something they didn’t understand and did something they thought was right but turned out to be horribly wrong?

Scary isn’t it? This is why it’s dangerous to trust either leaders or employees without making them earn it first.

Training and evaluation is imperative for employees. Being truthful, consistent and fair is imperative for leaders. Building trust helps everyone; wouldn’t you agree?
 

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Continuing on my quest in promoting my latest book Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy shamelessly, which also includes following up on an article I wrote two posts ago titled Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, The Standalone Book & The Answer…, I thought I’d give some ways that could make leadership easy for folks who don’t get it. Because I like odd numbers, and 9 is my 2nd favorite number, we’re going with that.

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1. Greet people in the morning and throughout the day.

This might seem trite but being nice and open with as many people as you can during the day makes you seem approachable. As a leader, that’s a big benefit because if you’re approachable, people will at least listen to what you have to say.

2. Become a great listener.

There are a lot of posts that tell leaders to listen to their employees but I’m going to go just a bit further. Unless an employee is yelling at you because they’re out of control (they don’t have to be mad at you; I’ve been there), it’s always best to listen to what any employee has to say without interruption; at least the first time around.

Often we have a tendency to want to interrupt someone, either because we want to address a specific point early or because we want to clarify what someone is saying before we allow them to continue.

Those aren’t bad reasons but, if you’ve noticed, when you do that you either throw off their train of thought or you inadvertently keep things going longer than they need to. You will have your chance to clarify and respond when they’re through, and showing someone that you paid attention will get you a bit of respect.

3. Tell everyone what your goal is.

Once again, this seems like a simple thing… only it’s something that many leaders rarely do.

As a consultant, I’ve walked into many situations where things are out of control, and come to find out that the only goal is to bring more money in, reduce accounts receivable, or solve issues where people are fighting with each other. Sure, those who bring me in want me to fix things for them, but rarely do they have a specific goal for anyone to work on.

It’s always better to set the standard that you want to shoot for, then tell everyone what that standard it. Depending on your time frame, you can go for short term goals or set an aggressive long term goal; I’ve done both. What this does is lets everyone know what you’re hoping for and what their role towards the goal is going to be.

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4. Get out of your office and mingle a little bit.

I’ve known managers who come into the main office, go into their little office, and either never leave during the day (meals notwithstanding) or only leave when they have meetings in other spaces. Some people believe the only time they should interact with employees is when they have to chastise them for something.

Instead, why not show some interest in what everyone is doing? Not only does this show them you care, but if you have supervisors reporting to you it’s a way of finding out if they’re actually telling you everything that’s going on. It’s possible they might not know themselves, and you can’t ever fix what you don’t know about.

5. Leave your door open as much as possible, and for the right reason.

Some managers come in every day and keep their door closed. Some come in and leave their door open because they want to hear what’s going on, as in spying on people. Employees aren’t stupid; either one of these generates distrust.

What I’ve found is that it’s better to leave the door open unless you’re having a meeting with someone where you might need to close the door. Let employees see you at your desk working, even if sometimes your work is just sitting there thinking of ways to address issues that are occurring or before they happen.

6. Share your thoughts with others and allow them to give you feedback.

People got used to seeing me in my office sometimes just staring at the wall while I had music on in the background and a yellow pad in front of me. They didn’t think I was just sitting there doing nothing because every once in a while I was stop in a room where a few of them were and tell them what I was thinking.

Because I was open to the experience, I would ask them what they thought. I didn’t get a lot of feedback all the time, but they appreciated that I ran things by them. They knew that any success we had would show everyone in a good light. Every once in a while someone came up with an idea that helped me refine my thoughts; after all, if someone is actually doing the work on a daily basis, you’ll find that their input can be very valuable.

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7. When you get back from meetings, share anything that came up that could be useful.

You can’t share everything from every meeting you go to, especially if it’s an executive meeting. With most other meetings, there’s almost always something you can share with members of your department that affects them in some way. Sometimes it’s feedback that helps them out. Sometimes it’s feedback about something they’ve been missing.

Truthfully, I think the best feedback is when someone had a negative thought in one of these meetings, you addressed it and got it taken care of, and then you go back and tell your employees about it, probably not mentioning any names. When your employees know you’ve got their back, they’ll give you their loyalty.

8. Find ways to keep the lines of communication and information open.

I always tried to keep my employees informed of what I’d learned that could help them do their jobs, whether it was via mail, meetings or phone calls. I did walk around and talk to people, but I didn’t let it stop there.

Initially I started out with a weekly newsletter, which I’d give to the supervisors and ask them to pass them out to the folks who reported to them. My goal there was to make sure everyone had all new information written down so they couldn’t say I’d forgotten to tell them of any changes. Later, when email came around, I sent out information that way, which made it easier on me and saved us some money on paper.

I also had meetings with different groups of employees every 1 to 3 months, depending on the job they did. I’d always tell them ahead of time to bring any questions with them that we could address. I also had a set timeframe; meetings started on time and ended either on time or earlier. Everyone was free to say whatever they wanted as long as it pertained to the job.

9. If you have supervisors, don’t subvert the chain of command intentionally.

When you put others in a position of leadership, you have to give them the opportunity to be leaders of their team. If you’re always breaking in your office will be confused as to who they should be reporting to first. That muddies things up for everyone.

Unless it was about the relationship with a supervisor, or the supervisor wasn’t there on that day, every employee had to take work problems to them first. They also had the allowance to try to address issues on their own, but if they needed some assistance they went to the supervisor.

At that point, the supervisor had the discretion to either work on the issue or have it brought to me, either by them or the supervisor. I worked hard on training my supervisors to be independent leaders so I had time to work on other things, and they appreciated the confidence I had in them. Trust me, when you have competent people working for you it always makes leadership easy. 😉
 

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In the middle of last week I was watching a YouTube video created by someone I know, though not overly well. He was talking about going into a bar and having a black guy calling him all sorts of names. When he asked the guy why he was calling him those names, the response was “because you’re white.”

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He said that he talked to the guy for a while and they resolved their issue and all was right with the world. Before that part though, he said he felt he was experiencing reverse racism. Turns out most of the people who commented on the video thought the same thing.

I’m not going to say I don’t believe it, but there had to be way more happening than the story told. For instance, if it happened in a bar where most of the people were white, we all know the guy would have been thrown out way before he’d had a chance to say something more than once. If it had been a black bar, more than one person would have been in on the name calling and the guy I know wouldn’t have stayed longer than a few minutes.

Those are the normal scenarios anyway; anything else… well, if it’s true there had to be way more than that going on. Still, it doesn’t matter; I’ll tell you why.

Last Friday I went with some people who are part of an organization on whose board I’m on. We were looking at some new meeting space that we supposedly wouldn’t have to pay for in a brand new building. It took me a while to find it, even though it’s in my hometown, because I passed it by, not realizing that the old building that had been there for decades had been renovated, since I came by it on a back road.

When I finally got there and walked in, the lady at the desk didn’t even hesitate in saying to me “Hi, your group just walked around the corner.” I thought at the time that she was prescient; how could she know who I was there with or why?

Within a couple of minutes we found the group I was supposed to be with and the tour began in earnest. It was a beautiful building in the modern style of businesses. Lots of open spaces, glass walls for the most part, two levels, but the upper level can look down on the lower level. The wall to wall carpeting dampened noise and the color scheme was warm and inviting.

You could see everything and everybody. As we kept walking around, we came to the patio, the lunch room, and the big conference room, where a training session was just getting ready to end. While everyone else stopped I decided to look into the room just to see who was in there.

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We were then escorted to a smaller room where we could briefly have our board meeting. It lasted maybe 20 minutes or so and, luckily enough, we ended on time.

I’ll own up to this right now; I was mentally off. I hadn’t slept all that well, I was feeling a little bit dizzy, and I was having some problems keeping my balance; that’s never a good thing. The building was overwhelming I must admit. One of the other people in our group said to me at one point “I feel like we shouldn’t be here.”

I agreed. Thus, when the meeting ended and we’d agreed to have our first 4 meetings of the new season there, I said “Well, I guess it’s a good thing Danny and I are here.” When someone asked why I said “Because we’re the only people of color in the entire building.”

Trust me, we were. There were at least 100 people in there, maybe way more since my count might have been off. But there was no doubt that there wasn’t a single person of color outside of myself and Danny, who happens to be Indian (from India of course). So much clean, such a wonderful design, everything state of the art… and not a single person of color.

I walked out angry; luckily, no one seemed to notice. On the drive home I wondered why I was angry; I mean, I should be used to it… right?

I always say that this concept of reverse racism is a myth. Here’s a question that I’d like someone to answer. Name a single business that has more than 20 employees in America where there isn’t a single white person in it?

You won’t find any. That’s why reverse racism is a myth; at a group, minorities in this country don’t have anything to themselves. Sure, there are lots of small minority owned businesses, and some consultants like myself. But entire businesses of only minorities… not happening.

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Creative Commons License Crystal Marie Lopez via Compfight

Next, name a single business where most of the leadership is minority in the United States; I’ll wait. It’s not going to happen. Goodness, I’ve been in hospitals in Texas and Tennessee and New Jersey. I’ve been in hospitals where at least half of the workforce is minority. But when you get to the leadership… if you’re lucky there will be one or two. In the hospital in Texas, none; in the hospitals in New Jersey; one. The hospital in Tennessee… none.

If you want to know what reverse racism is you have to understand the concept of inclusion first. I’m not saying that any of these places I visited were racist; far from it. What I will say is that when it came to leadership, they hired what they were used to and comfortable with, and that’s that.

Like this business I was at last Friday. I don’t think they intentionally set out to be exclusive. Goodness, they even built a special elevator for the disabled; there was one person there with a disability.

I just think it’s easy to overlook those who aren’t necessarily similar in the quest for getting “the right person.” I don’t buy the “none ever apply” excuse; when I was an employee, I went out of my way to find people in the communities the hospitals were in to reach out to minority populations and tell them to apply for jobs. I told them to make sure they were qualified which, if they had a high school diploma, even a college degree, they would be. If I could do it and it wasn’t my job, other businesses can get it done.

I’ve said this often and I’ll say it again. Business and the world is better when people learn that diversity improves our lives overall. In an article titled How HR ‘Best Practices’ Kill Innovation last week in Forbes, Adam Hartung wrote “It is incredibly important to have high levels of diversity. It’s the only way to avoid becoming myopic, and finding yourself with “best practices” that don’t matter as competitors overwhelm your market.”

Reverse racism? Bah!
 

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After a week and a half, I’ve set up my new book Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, as a standalone product. It can be purchased for $12.95, much lower than the package that I was, and still am offering through the end of June. There’s another another deal on that page where you can purchase both of my books; go check it out!

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the cover

Interestingly enough, I had someone ask me a question on Twitter about the title. It’s interesting because I’ve been asking people for years to ask me questions they’d like me to address, and finally it happened, and of course it’s on a book title. Hey, I’m not scared to address it.

The question was “is leadership easy or hard? It’s an interesting question for more than one reason.

First is the assumption that leadership is either one or the other. It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s kind of like good and evil; the majority of people have a bit of both in them, but one will usually outweigh the other depending on the person.

Second, not everyone will ask this question, but most people have probably thought about it, whether or not they’re good at it. I like to think I’m good at it, thus it’s easy for me. However, I always thought playing the piano was fairly easy until I watched someone who was outstanding at it playing. I also saw many people who thought they were pretty good playing horribly, either in tempo or making a lot of mistakes.

This leads us to the third point, which is people perceive themselves differently than others do here and there. Unless the leader has the guts to allow their employees to rate them here and there to find out how good or bad they are, they might have the wrong impression of whether it’s easy or hard for them to do.

Of course, in the long run all of that is just a dodge; thus, I didn’t answer the question that way. It would have been hard to answer it that way on Twitter anyway; only 140 characters available at one time.

Instead, I answered it this way, in two tweets; you’re getting them both together:

Leadership is easy to those who care about making sure others have everything they need to be successful. Leadership is hard for those who believe it’s all about them and getting things done their way only.

That might seem simplistic but the person on Twitter liked it. Still, let’s flesh it out just a little bit.

In my post What Is Leadership?, I defined leadership as “the ability to get other people to agree with you and help you achieve your goal.”

How do you get other people to agree with you?

Do you do it by forcing them to do things they may not like to do? Do you do it by making them feel insignificant? Do you do it by telling them what to do every step of the way, or by ignoring them and expecting that they’ll know what to do?

Not even close. Sure, they may come along, but they never agree with you, even if you’re right. In those instances, you may get good results out of spite, but in the long run you’ll fail.

Do you get people to agree with you by explaining what the goals are and allowing them to participate? Do you get agreement by giving them the tools they need to succeed? Do you get agreement by acknowledging their production, proficiency and how they get along with the team? Do you offer motivation by words and/or actions? Do you get people to agree with you by being fair and unbiased?

Indeed! They may not come along 100% but the majority will embrace what you’re giving them. They’re more willing to come to work. They’re more willing to share in the process. They want to succeed by helping you succeed. And you, them, and the company is more apt to be successful long term.

Which way do you think is easier? Look at my two choices above and decide for yourself. Then think about checking out the book (aren’t I a master salesperson? lol). Also, let me know what you think here; after all, I don’t write these things for myself! 😉
 

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