This blog reflects ideas I've stumbled upon in my executive coaching practice helping clients deal with opportunities and problems.

What is Experience Anyway

Whether you are a football fan or not you probably have a good idea of what the quarterback does. The quarterback coordinates the efforts of the offensive team while at the same time the defensive team is rushing him in order to break up the play. Experienced quarterbacks seem to be able to make the clock slow down in order to get their job done before the rushing defenders tackle him.

I recently visited a car manufacturing plant. The cars being assembled are constantly moving on the assembly line while at each of a dozen or so stations a team of ten assembly workers do their work under the guidance of a team leader.

In my mind the team leader is like the quarterback on a football team. The assembly crew is like the offense. The constantly moving line is like the defense. The more experienced the team leader the more they are able to help their team deal with the constantly moving line and associated stress.

It’s likely that you are a team leader is some way. It might be at work with people, machines and tools or at home with your family. As you get more experienced you’re able to read situations more quickly based on past experience and handle them better. I think the time you save reading situations more quickly is what makes the clock appear to be going slower and adds to your effectiveness. Like a more experienced quarterback.

So what to do? 1] Take an inventory of common stressful situations that you face. 2] Catalog the successful solutions you have used in the past. These are ‘best practices’ and ‘know how’. 3] Use what worked well in the past again in order to succeed in the future.

This is why training is often based on problem solving. As participants practice solving common problems their experience grows and their ability to perform better in the future is enhanced.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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26 June 2014 ~ Comment

Swing vs. Setup Thoughts

If you’re a regular reader you’ll know I’m a bit of a golf addict. It dawned on me the other day during a game that I hit the ball better when I took a more time with setup thoughts and relied less, as I should, on [in]swing thoughts. That is, more preparation time is good.

I recommend this concept to my executive coaching clients in a number of ways.

1] I suggest some alone planning time at the beginning of each year, month, week, day and afternoon.

2] If you have an assistant I suggest adding that person to your planning at the beginning of the day and afternoon.

3] I often ask my client to do a ‘potential problem analysis’ before an important meeting. This analysis aims to understand what could go wrong and what the workarounds could be.

4] I ask interview skills clients to create a mantra as a central focus for upcoming interviews. The mantra should be what they surmise is the most important quality the interviewer would be looking for. And then to tailor their answers to that mantra.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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09 June 2014 ~ Comment

Make Your Bed to Ignite Your Day

I was watching this commencement address which has gone viral. It one of those ’10 lessons’ speeches. It’s good.

One of the ideas is to make your bed first thing every day. The benefit is that it’s one small, easy to do thing you can do first to get some satisfaction. That kind of thing is motivating. You’ve probably noticed many times that when you have a positive experience it motivates and energizes you to push on to something more challenging and rewarding. The downside is, even if you have a lousy day, you at least have a bed that’s made to fall in to at the end.

Now what about you. OK, you can make your bed. But what about at work. I’ve prescribed in these pages that you ‘plan tomorrow at the end of today‘. That is you update your A list [important], B list [less important] and C list [won't do] at the end of each day. Include some small to do early on that will be positive and get you going. This could be marketing, finance or some administrative task that you get off your plate. It doesn’t include reviewing your email since that tends be addictive and will take you off track from working on your A list in the morning.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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26 May 2014 ~ Comment

What Does Your Car Say to You

I’ve been working with a client about his insecurity. The guy is reasonably qualified and successful. He just says he feels insecure. That gets in his way sometimes when he has to be more assertive at starting and cultivating relationships.

In situations like this I use an idea from The Wizard of Oz to help my clients. I advise them to get some sort of badge for themselves. It is to be a demonstrative reminder that they are good enough. You’ll recall in the movie the cowardly lion was transformed with a Badge of Courage.

Often with my clients I suggest the badge should be a notable car. The car is a branded badge to persistently remind my client to feel/act secure. They may choose a different badge e.g. a Rolex or a black Amex card. The idea I’m trying to convey is to have a badge that reminds them every time them see it and just looking at it thrills them in some way. Cars and watches are common and easy to do. For many products this is exactly what the brand marketer is trying to do. And whatever is chosen it’s best to have one that’s distinctive, that separates the owner from the herd.

What branded products do you already own? Which did you choose because the particular brand conveyed something special to you? Could you have purchased more ‘specialness’ with a different brand choice that would have added to your self-esteem?

Too Close to Shore – Not for Columbus or for You

I was just listening to this book on tape about Columbus. It seems that what he did courageously, that other sailors of his time didn’t do, was that he sailed away from shore. He sailed away from a nearby safe landing. It was apparently not blind luck to find the western hemisphere. He was part of a group who already thought the world was round.

So for you and your career are there some opportunities to take some chances, some educated guesses, that will help you move quickly towards your goals.

One thing I talk to my coaching clients about is that they should not wait for their ship to come in. They should swim out to meet it. That analogy yields a pretty good discussion of goal setting and strategy.

A similar idea is figuring out how to shed more light on a problem or opportunity. Again, with my clients, a good discussion ensues when I ask them how to find more information about their opportunity that will help them take advantage.

A third concept is finding a passion. The trouble is that life in North America is generally so good, that we don’t have to be passionate to generate energy to motivate us to work harder to achieve more. But, what if we were passionate about something? Could that passion be harnessed. Again, something I talk to my clients about. What narrow passion is going to fuel their efforts? It’s something they need to know.

Questions to consider. a] What are you waiting for, that you could swim out to meet, instead? b] What’s an opportunity that you don’t know enough about? What could you learn that would propel you forward? c] What could you get passionate about that would lead to getting something you want?

Posted by Jerome Shore

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29 April 2014 ~ Comment

Grow a Good Habit

I’ve been with a number of new clients recently who need to grow their skills dealing with subordinates. These clients are all Type A. That is, they operate at a fast pace. When they need to slow down to listen better or to delegate they actually feel pain from holding back. The pain can help them grow the habits they need.

One client needs to listen better; allowing others to speak their ideas, to stop finishing their sentences and to not fill every pause. Every time she does one of those three things she feels pain. She can’t measure immediately whether her better listening is working but she can measure how much pain she’s feeling and how often. She now knows that when, at the end of a day, she can remember lots of instances of pain that she’s been meeting her listening objectives. She can confidently know that if she keeps a diary and records ‘pain’ every day for 21 days that she’ll have done a good job growing a good habit.

Can you think of some new habit you’d like to grow and the associated pain that comes with practice. Put the two together to help you grow.

Posted by Jerome Shore

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26 March 2014 ~ Comment

Thoughts Into Action

Regular readers know much of my time is spent as a marketing coach. I coach professionals, like lawyers, in their business development activities.

I find that it’s a common human trait to have plenty of thoughts about what to do. In my work my clients themselves, and with my help, have no shortage potential actions to think about and to do.

The essence of success when working with a coach, I think, is to turn thoughts about the right things to do, into action. I often say that it’s my job to help people to do ‘more of the right stuff and less of the wrong’. My job is to help my clients figure out the right and wrong and ways to do more of the former.

Is it the same for you? Do you have lots of thoughts and ideas about what you need to do more of? And less of? Here are three ideas on how to proceed.

1. Get what you know down on paper. Just simply make two lists, side by side; more of, less of. My go to for less of is watching TV. My go to for more of is activities that are important but not urgent; like relationship building.

2. Work on your more of list first thing in the morning before you get side-tracked. If you work diligently on your more of list for a half hour every morning that you’re not sidetracked by an emergency, you’ll achieve a great deal. A coffee date to cultivate relationships a few morning a week can do wonders.

3. Believe in persistence. Much will get in your way. Don’t let it stop you. Give yourself a lengthy test period, like a year, to see what happens. And then commit to turn your more of thoughts into action for the entire time before evaluating. Time on task has never been disputed as a solid strategy to get what you want.

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