The Coach's Corner

Finally, a Positive Story About Corporate America

March 19th, 2018 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

If you are like me, you’re probably getting sick of reading and listening to negative stories about corporate America. Even hearing those two words together can be a turnoff.

Well, the other day I was with a client who shared a very positive story.

In his industry, there’s a growing shortage of independent installers for their product — and, you guessed it, installers are very critical if the manufacturer and the distributor are going to be successful. A huge problem is that fewer workers are entering this field, since it’s so physically taxing, and most installers burn out at a relatively young age.

My client shared how the manufacturer has responded to these concerns by developing a new product that’s less complex and easier to install. Since its introduction, the new product has resulted in a 50 percent increase in productivity. To the customer, the changes have no affect whatsoever on the look, functionality, or pricing of the product. Environmentally sensitive customers, meanwhile, have been happy to discover the new product is manufactured from fully recyclable materials.

To my client’s surprise — and mine, too — the manufacturer’s representative, who is promoting this product, says, “We recommend the installers continue to charge the same price to install the product.” As a result, younger, stronger installers are able to increase their income by 50 percent, while older, experienced installers can keep earning the same income with significantly less wear and tear on their bodies.

Wow, I just got re-recruited — here’s a business that truly cares about its workers.

I hear and read a lot of similar stories indicating there’s a shortage of skilled, manual laborers. Are you in one of those industries? Is there an innovation in your industry that would be customer-neutral, but would improve your workers’ lives?

Do You Want to Turn Followers into Leaders?

March 5th, 2018 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In Turn the Ship Around!, L. David Marquet, a retired Navy nuclear submarine captain, proposes using a leader-leader model rather than a leader-follower model in the workplace. If you know anything about the military, the power of his contrarian point of view is revolutionary.

Based on firsthand experience, having survived U.S. Army basic training at Fort Ord a few decades ago, it seemed to me that the Army’s goal was to get us to do whatever they told us to do, no matter how stupid or unreasonable it may have been. Some of the absurd things drill instructors said to us were laughable — although, for self-preservation, no one would dare laugh out loud. I recall coming home on leave for the first time and Barbara asking me, What’s the matter? The opinionated fellow she had married suddenly wasn’t able to make any decisions for himself. That’s when I realized that, in order to survive, I had put myself in a mental state where I just did whatever my superiors told me to do, no matter what I personally thought. As a result, I had become — and remained throughout my military career — a really GOOD follower.

In his book, this former captain is proposing something very foreign to the military. Marquet says leadership in the armed forces has historically been all about controlling people, but he goes on to admit that there’s a vast untapped human potential being lost under  the leader-follower model.

I know you’re trying to figure out the business application. Well, if you’re a regular reader, you know I’ve commented many times on the importance of listening to your team members, even when you don’t like their input, and creating an atmosphere where team members at all levels are encouraged to share their ideas. Marquet offers an interesting point of view that I believe applies to businesses as well as the military.

In addition to the above, Marquet provides some insight into the how the leader-follower model is only effective in the short run. He gives examples of submarines with effective leader-follower captains who failed under a new captain. In the past, I’ve addressed the importance of business succession; Marquet believes the leader-leader model is best for succession.

If you’re like many of us who prefer to control, I would suggest reading Turn the Ship Around! I’m certain you’ll be encouraged by Captain Marquet’s revolutionary ideas.

Common-Sense Spending Advice

February 19th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

For most of my adult life, I have considered myself “cheap.” For example, I’ve been known to say things like: “Why buy something new when the old one still works?” or “Why pay more when I can get essentially the same thing for less?”

In Chapter 6 of Your Money or Your Life, by Vicki Robin, the author states: “Frugality is enjoying the virtue of getting good value for every minute of your life energy and from everything you have the use of.”

After all these years, Robin helped me understand me. There are times where I will spend/invest money — a lot of money, in fact — and feel good about it, but I’ve never understood why. So, using her words, I’ve realized that I’ll buy/invest if I believe I’m getting good value.

That being said, Robin provides a common-sense list for helping us save money:

  1. Stop trying to impress other people.
  2. Don’t go shopping.
  3. Live within your means.
  4. Take care of what you have.
  5. Wear it out.
  6. Do it yourself.
  7. Anticipate your needs.
  8. Buy it for less.

It’s not rocket science, but I’m guessing these are the habits of the Millionaire Next Door.


Mastering Bitcoin for Dummies

February 5th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

For the past couple of years I’ve felt I should know something about Bitcoin, as it’s becoming more mainstream, so I recently purchased Mastering Bitcoin for Dummies by Alan T. Norman. Have you ever had one of those moments when someone is speaking to you about a technical subject and it’s as though they’re talking in a foreign language?

As I read the book, it occurred to me that Bitcoin was developed by a computer programmer, while the author of the book is a self-proclaimed “geek” whose career goal is to become a security hacker for the U.S. government. As a result, there are many words used in the book that are probably common in the programming world, but their programming-specific meaning is definitely not familiar to me. These include wallets, blockchains, cold storage and mining.

In addition, it seems like I need to download some software to my Mac, which is a very scary thought!

In posting more than 180 blogs, I’ve never solicited a response — but if you use Bitcoin for spending, payments, or receipt of payments and are willing to talk to a limited-knowledge Mac user and teach him a little about Bitcoin, please hit reply to this blog and let me know.

p.s. If I do learn some basics, I’ll share them with my readers in a follow-up post.

What’s Limiting Healthy Communication in Many Businesses?

January 22nd, 2018 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Once again, I’m out of my area of professional expertise, but I would suggest the answer to the title question is “passive-aggressive behavior.” My partner, Barbara, will write more on this subject later, but I wanted to at least introduce it.

Based on reading 8 Keys to Eliminating Passive-Aggressiveness, by Andrea Brandt, and my own experience and observations over the decades, I believe most of us could do better.

Here are my takeaways from Brandt’s book:

  1. Unlike extrovert/introvert, passive-aggressive is a learned behavior developed during our formative years. Brandt would say that if one parent is dominant and the other is subservient, children will almost inevitably develop some passive-aggressive tendencies.
  2. Unrealistic standards can cause a child, who becomes an adult, to develop passive-aggressive tendencies.
  3. Brandt would say that we don’t express our feelings because we leap to the conclusion that any difference of opinion will lead to a  quarrel, which in turn will threaten our relationships.
  4. She would also say that if you don’t ask for what you need, the odds of getting it are greatly reduced.
  5. The best thing we can do for our children is to raise them in an environment where it’s safe to express our feelings and speak the truth to each other.
  6. People with passive-aggressive behavior will say “yes” when they really mean “no.”
  7. According to Brandt, conflict — even if it’s occasionally uncomfortable — can help create good, enriching relationships. (Editorial comment: this is very counterintuitive.)
  8. Don’t assume the other person knows what you’re thinking and feeling.

Hopefully this list whets your appetite for reading Brandt’s book. It’s not an easy read, but I believe that for any leader or senior executive, it’s worth the effort.

Two closing comments:

  1. Since it’s a behavior learned as a child, many of us may not realize we have passive-aggressive leanings. I would encourage you to ask your mentor, supervisor, coach, spouse or someone who really cares for you what they think.
  2. In reading the book and self-diagnosing myself, I don’t believe I’m passive-aggressive. However, as I reflect on my interactions, I would say that, at times,  I’ve behaved in a passive-aggressive manner. This has generally resulted in confusion, miscommunication and bad results.

In my amateur opinion, dealing with this subject could be a game-changer for your team. I strongly encourage you to read this book in order to better understand the impact this very common situation may be having on your company.

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.