The Coach's Corner

Anger: A Secondary Emotion

November 13th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

OK, I’m a little out of my field of expertise, but I believe I can speak as someone who has received some great professional counseling. Years ago when I was promoted to a new job that resulted in more responsibility, I noticed that I would become angry more often. I wasn’t the happy-go-lucky Tommy of the past, and there were times when my reaction was disproportionate to the situation/problem at hand. To be honest, I blew up.

Fortunately, before I caused too much damage and embarrassment, I received some really wise counsel:

Anger is usually your second emotion. For me, I discovered the primary issue behind my anger is often frustration. Here’s a link to a wonderful one-page write-up and a helpful chart.

I keep this chart in my daily journal and refer to it often. If you can relate to my story, I would recommend you do the same.

Once I understood what was going on, the counselor suggested that I deal with issues — usually people — along the way, to avoid escalation. Here’s an example: Say someone on your team has an annoying habit or practice that bothers you and the team. Too often, no one tells that team member how they’re feeling about the habit or practice until it becomes a monumental issue, at which point the team member becomes the target of an angry outburst. I learned — and am still refining — the practice of healthy confrontation, or speaking the truth in love.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that if I keep short accounts — in other words, deal with little things before they become big things — I avoid the atomic explosion.

How about you? Can you relate?

LifeMission: Do You Know Where You’re Going?

October 30th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Successful executives know where they’re going, stay focused, and have an uncanny ability to know when to say “NO.” They may not use these exact words, but they’re operating off a LifeMission. They’ve discovered there’s limited unscheduled time and know their current “Season of Life.” The following thoughts are meant to help you develop your own unique game plan.

 Step 1  What’s Your Destination?

Reflect on these rhetorical questions:

  1. How do you know you’re on the right road if you don’t know where you’re going?
  2. When you’re sitting in your rocking chair in the twilight of your life, what would you like to look back at?
  3. If you were writing your own eulogy, what would you like it to say?

Step 2 — Realize That Time is a Limited Resource

Many resources can be increased through hard work, good investing, inheritance, and even luck — but time is a finite resource. We all get 24 hours each day. Have you ever thought about how you spend your time? Download the Doescher Advisors “How I Spend My Time” tool, which will provide a simple way to reflect upon your time commitments (you don’t need to fill it out!).

Step 3 — What “Season of Life” are You In?

Reflect on the following questions:

  1. Are you still in school? Are you going back to school?
  2. Are you married? Do you have children? Are your children still minors? Do your children live with you? Are you a single parent? If so, what is your support system? Are you coaching sports teams or do you have some other commitment related to your children (i.e., PTA)?
  3. If you’re married with children, do both spouses work outside of the home?
  4. How demanding is your job? Is it 24/7? Does your work require travel outside of your home city?
  5. Are you involved in outside organizations (i.e., charities, service clubs, a neighborhood association)?
  6. Do you attend church? Do you have other commitments/responsibilities related to church? Do you belong to a social or athletic club? Are you involved on the board or on a committee? What other responsibilities, hobbies, or activities do you have? Do you travel recreationally?
  7. Do you have responsibilities for aging parents, adult children, or others?
  8. Do you have a regular exercise program and/or participate in golf, tennis, fishing, hunting, etc.?

In developing your LifeMission, you need to consider what’s important to you now — and realize that may change over the years.

LifeMission Summary

In a survey of 95-year-olds, Dr. Tony Campolo, a professor of sociology, asked them, “What would you do differently with your life if you could live it over?” Many responded: “We would reflect more, risk more, and invest in people more.”

With their advice in mind, begin the process of developing your LifeMission.

  • Think about “How I Spend My Time” and reflect upon your current “Season of Life.”
  • If you’ve ever used any assessment tools, consider and incorporate your identified strengths.
  • Brainstorm key words, thoughts, and themes.
  • Format isn’t important. We’ve evolved from words to a graphical representation of our LifeMission.
  • Like strategic planning, your LifeMission is an ongoing process.
  • Be accountable to someone.
  • Just do it!

Man’s Search for Meaning

October 16th, 2017 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

No, “Man’s Search for Meaning” isn’t the title of a current New York Times bestseller; it’s something that was originally published in 1946 in German. I’m guessing some of you have read it, maybe for a college psych class. I finally read the timeless book, which was written by Viktor Frankl, and I admit it was a hard read — but it was well worth the time and effort, for many reasons. Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist born in 1905, was a Auschwitz concentration camp survivor.

In the beginning of the book, Frankl states that he didn’t intend for this to be another history book about the concentration camps, although he does provide some chilling personal stories. Instead, he wanted to share his professional conclusion that man’s primary motivation in life is to find “meaning.” He quotes Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher, as concluding “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” He also quotes a Johns Hopkins University survey, where students were asked what they considered “very important” to them. Seventy-eight percent responded, “Finding a purpose and meaning to life.” (Although it may sound like I’m quoting Daniel Pink, Marcus Buckingham, Jim Collins, or Patrick Lencione, I really am talking about a holocaust survivor.)

Owners and senior executives, I’m asking you to think about what Frankl is saying. Then, realize he had no idea that, more than 50 years later, millennials would come along. I’ve commented on the topics of purpose, your why, and your mission several times, including in my January 11, 2016, blog. You probably started your business with a passion for something. What is it? Do your team members know, and are they as excited as you? You may say what you do is pretty plain vanilla, but I don’t accept that. In my October 14, 2013, blog, I commented on how Frank Moran created an accounting firm using the metaphor of the Mayo Clinic for businesses and to this day, it still inspires hundreds of professionals.

When I tour manufacturing facilities I always ask a few operators where the part they’re making goes. To my shock, most don’t know. To them, it’s just a metal or plastic fastener.

Owners, please figure out a way to inspire your team members. They could easily work somewhere else and probably make similar money. You have an opportunity to appeal to their need for meaning in life. Don’t miss it. It won’t cost much, but it could make your company an even better place to work.

p.s. Actually, I’ll make you an offer. Contact me and, at no charge, I’ll help you communicate your “meaning” to your team.



Do You Have a Uniquely Better Product?

October 2nd, 2017 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In a recent presentation, Andy Stanley, author of Next Generation Leader, which is on my Top Picks Leadership Book list, shared some of his recent thinking related to his 20-year-old church. It may seem like an odd source for business strategy advice, but I found his thoughts to be exceptional and very applicable to businesses that have been around for awhile.

Stanley and his leadership team asked the following rhetorical questions: If we had to do it again, what would we do over again? Why were we so successful? Why did we grow so fast? In Stanley’s case, his team concluded that when they launched North Point Community Church, it was the only church with its type of format in Atlanta. In other words (as we hope for in business!), they had no competition. As Stanley would say, “We had a uniquely better product.”

Today, churchgoers in Atlanta have many similar choices. As we know from Clayton Christensen and his disruptive innovation work at the Harvard Business School, it’s very difficult to change almost anything in a successful organization/business. To help those of us with 20-plus year successful businesses who want to continue to thrive, Stanley offered the following tips:

  1. Be a student, not a critic. As Steven Covey would say, “Seek to understand why others are providing a new approach to their product or service.” For you old-timers, remember what IBM said when the first Apple computer came out?
  2. Keep your eyes wide open. What trends may be going on that will affect your uniquely better product?
  3. Replace “How?” with “WOW!” Let me explain this one. Have you ever heard a young associate suggest a fresh, new idea and some old-timer says, “How can they do that?” Do you think that young associate will ever dare bring up a new, fresh idea again? On the other hand, what if the old-timer, like my mentor Ken Kunkel, would say, “Wow, I never thought of that. Maybe we should investigate and try it.” Actually, Kunkel had the following rule: If someone on the team had an idea, he would try his best to utilize or implement it in some way, and give lots of public praise to the person who had come up with the idea. Do you think Kunkel received more ideas using that approach? What about you? Do you say “How?” or “WOW!”?
  4. Finally, ask uniquely better questions and be open-minded to the answers.

Barbara and I are in our sixth year of Doescher Advisors. We plan to ask ourselves, and maybe some of you, this question: Do we have a uniquely better product?

We would encourage you to do the same.

Why Don’t They Read My Email?

September 18th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 4 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

This is a common complaint I hear from senior executives. Over the years, I’ve received well-written communications (I will use this label to include emails, memos, texts, tweets, letters and all other written messages), as well as poorly composed ones. I notice that I always read the good ones and often skip the others. Here are a few tips I’ve accumulated over the years to help improve readership:

  1. First of all, why am I sending this communication? Should I? Often, I decide not to send the message after all.
  2. Pace your communications — or, maybe I should say, limit your communications. Avoid the “another email from Tom” reaction.
  3. Would I read my own communication?
  4. Make sure the subject line or the opening sentence is intriguing and/or catchy.
  5. Be brief, and be succinct. So many people seem to think longer is better, but that’s not the case. It often takes more time to be precise, but your readership will go up.
  6. Use bullets, headings and a lot of white space, so readers can scan the material more easily.
  7. Re-read your draft communication multiple times, to make sure it’s clear.
  8. Create an environment where your readers get something. Give them a tip, or some nugget of information that will help them be more successful.
  9. If you’re asking a question, make sure the reader(s) know you’re looking for a response.
  10. When appropriate, slip in a little humor (this is tricky; using sarcasm and/or referring to inside jokes can backfire and go horribly wrong).
  11. Assume your communication may be forwarded. I always ask the question, “What if my communication ended up in The Wall Street Journal?”

Hopefully, these suggestions will improve your readership. As you know, we’re all being bombarded with so many communications on a myriad of devices — and much of it is, indeed, junk mail. When your name appears, you want your readers to give your message priority status. I believe they will if you invest the time before hitting “send.”

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.