The following are observations that, in my forty-plus years in business, most at senior executive levels, are true. And more importantly elegant and simple to implement.
I have tried to live by these and they have never let me down.
1) … the 5 Minute Rule.
If you are running a department or division, implement this for your staff. If you are a worker bee, practice this yourself and practice it religiously! “The 5 Minute Rule” is wonderfully simple. When someone says something, you are not allowed to say anything negative about it for 5 minutes.
Ponder the possibilities? Whatever has been said may sound absurd or it may be treasonous to your company. Fine – let it sit for 5 minutes. Maybe the polar opposite will work? Maybe there is a stout reasoning behind what is being said – context is King! And subsequently, if you do not immediately slam the idea with a negative, the person offering the thought will be encouraged to contribute again rather than feel put down and stay silent.
2) … Sell yourself, then your product, then your company.
People buy from people they trust. Managers hire and promote people they trust! Trust is key!
There is absolutely no upside to spreading gossip. Full stop. Do not encourage folks by listening to it, do not engage in it yourself and certainly do not spread it.
Even the old-time, car salesman with the checkered pants and white belt was successful because he was trusted. He sold your Dad all his cars over the years and was a trusted advisor. In David Maister’s book “The Trusted Advisor” he outlines the process of mapping trust development. It is a fascinating read and you can use it to measure your level of trust and see how the “Pros” do it! Add it to your summer reading list!
3) … Habits
One of the best things I was ever told, “We are creatures of habits. Good habits and bad habits. And every day try and replace a bad habit with a good one.”
This was a gift that I was given many years ago. And every single day since then, if I find something that I am doing that is a bad habit, I try and replace it, or at least remove it. There is a huge sense of accomplishment when you overcome a bad habit!
4) … Gossip
This is one, sure-fire way, to ruin your personal brand. Whether it is with friends and family of in the workplace. There is an old saying, “If you do not have something good to say, don’t say anything.”
Trust me on this, there is absolutely no upside to spreading gossip. Full stop. Do not encourage folks by listening to it, do not engage in it yourself and certainly do not spread it. It is a career limiting move. It is deadly and once you have done it, it cannot be undone.
5) … Remember Mark Twain
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure, that just ain’t so.”
This quote has been attributed to Samuel Clemens. In nearly 4 decades since I heard this quote, I have seen it played out hundreds, if not thousands of times. Let me elaborate.
In business, we sometimes fall prey to worrying about what the competition is up to? Do they have a new product? Are they about to embark on a new pricing strategy? Are they innovating better than us? And so on and so forth.
Yes of course it’s prudent to be market aware and know your competition, but I could list hundreds of examples where all this “outward” worry and fear was wasted when the company should have focused on what it was doing inwardly that was, at the very least causing them problems, and at the very worst putting them out of business. Too often businesses run on some sort of corporate “dogma.”
Hope you can see the elegance of these simple ideas and maybe you can put some, or all of them, into practice?
I believe you get promoted and/or hired because there ends up being two types of people; “people that do”, and “people that don’t.” You must strive daily to be atop the “People that Do” list. That means you can be counted on.