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 – 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 – 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 – 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 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 – 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.

Quick Hit – 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