The Coach's Corner

Trust Your Gut

June 18th, 2018 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Over the past few years, I’ve worked with business owners who, when relating a situation in their business, would say something like, “I knew I should have done this or that.” I can relate. Based on my self-diagnosis, I would say that I’m not naturally intuitive. This conclusion is the result of working with a number of partners and clients who really are intuitive. To me, it seems like they have a sixth sense.

What I’ve discovered later in my business career is that although I may not be intuitive, I have experienced a lot — both good and bad — and I’ve tried to learn from these situations. As I reflected on the subject, I recalled a February 2001 Harvard Business Review article entitled “When to Trust Your Gut,” written by Alden M. Hayashi. The reason I remembered the article is that the author highlights a story about Bob Lutz, who at the time was a member of the Lee Iacocca Chrysler Dream Team, and who many consider to be one of the greatest auto executives of all time. I won’t spoil the article, but it details Lutz’s conceptualizing and then launching the very successful Dodge Viper with no market research, just his gut instinct, to support him. The article quotes Herbert Simon, of Carnegie Mellon, who came to the conclusion that experience enables people to “chunk” information so they can store and retrieve it easily.

In a November 16, 2017, article in Psychology Today, titled “When Should You Trust Your Gut? Here’s What the Science Says,” Al Pittampalli states, “In order to trust our intuition, we need to have had enough practice. Our intuitions are only as good as the database of patterns that we draw them from. So we need to have had sufficient experience noticing and revising patterns in order to have built up a database that is both robust and refined.”

In the HBR article, the author says, “Executives like Lutz and Eisner (former Disney CEO) will be the first to admit that their instincts are often plain wrong. Don’t fall in love with your decisions. They warn against overconfidence, and they suggest routinely soliciting the opinions of others when faced with tough choices.”

So, here is my advice to “seasoned leaders,” based on my own experience and my observations of some awesome leaders:

  1. Don’t ignore your gut, especially if it’s related to a subject you know really well.
  2. Make sure you aren’t emotionally too close to or attached to the subject.
  3. Seek the counsel of others.
  4. Listen carefully; try to understand their views and the bases of their opinions.
  5. Don’t ignore your gut!

p.s. If you’re just beginning your career, be careful — unless you’re Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Thomas Edison, or Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines.

Are Your Best Successes a Result of Goal-Setting?

June 4th, 2018 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I will readily admit that mine aren’t. Goal-setting has been on my mind a lot lately, as I recently have been involved in career-planning discussions with 20-somethings. As we’ve talked about their passions — or, sometimes, their lack of passions — I’ve also spent some time reflecting on my own life (it’s true, I didn’t feel a strong passion about anything in particular after my football-coaching gig didn’t work out).

Any of you who know me realize I’m a very serious business and personal goal-setter. I strongly believe in planning and goal-setting. Over the years, it’s helped me make good choices regarding how to spend my time and money.

That being said, as I’ve thought about my life, I can’t think of one major thing that has been the direct result of my goal-setting. For example, I went to Western Michigan University to become a football coach, but instead I ended up at Plante Moran. Then there was the time my college roommate and I went to the Lutheran Student Center’s dinner one Sunday evening because our dorm didn’t serve an evening meal. I went simply to get some dinner, but instead I met Barbara (this was over 50 years ago!). Once we were married, Barbara and I had no plans to live in Fenton (long story of how we got here), but today we love it. Finally, it wasn’t my plan to be in business with Barbara, but that’s not the way things turned out.

So here’s my current advice:

  1. Put your sail up and let the wind blow into it.
  2. Don’t over-analyze everything.
  3. Don’t fight gravity. If things are going well, continue — but if you keep bumping your nose, move on.
  4. If doors open, go through them.
  5. Some of us have to experience a lot of things to find our passion.
  6. Do your best wherever you are.
  7. Always learn as much as you can, wherever you are. As you go through life, you’ll be surprised how many of your life experiences will connect years later.
  8. If you’re in a miserable situation, move on.
  9. It’s not all about money.

With the advantage of several decades of life, I feel that today I am in my “calling” or “passion,” and I love almost every day of it. That being said, it took a lot of experiences for me to realize what I wanted.

So hang in there, put your sail up, and walk through any doors that open, no matter how scary it may seem.

p.s. Give me a call if you want to talk.

What is the Key to a Happier Life?

May 21st, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Rhonda Byrne, in her book The Magic, claims the answer is gratitude. This reminded me of a conversation I had last spring with Dr. William Malarkey, who espoused the importance of gratitude in a healthy life. Byrne, a television and film producer, quotes many diverse sources to support her position, including Einstein, Isaac Newton, John F. Kennedy, the Holy Bible, the Quran, and Buddha.

It’s impossible to prove with absolute certainty that she’s right, but her advice is very practical, so I thought I would summarize her key points — and, of course, add a few editorial comments:

  1. Give to others, rather than taking (Byrne believes merely taking is a sign of ungratefulness).
  2. Say “thank you” often.
  3. Make lists of the things for which you’re grateful.
  4. At the end of each day, journal the best thing that happened to you. (Editorial comment: I’m going to incorporate this one into my daily routine.)
  5. For every complaint you have about another person, whether in thought or word, there have to be 10 blessings for the relationship to flourish. (Editorial comment: John Gottman says it’s five to one, but whether it is five or 10, I think you get the point about negativity.)
  6. When you’re grateful for your job, you will automatically give more to your work.
  7. The way to receive your dream job is by first being grateful for the job you have.
  8. Lucky breaks don’t happen by accident. (Editorial comment: Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.)
  9. Taking things for granted is a major cause of negativity.
  10. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
  11. There’s no room for harmful, negative thoughts when your mind is focused on looking for things to be grateful for.
  12. Everyone has received help, support, or guidance from others when we needed it most. (Editorial comment: Make your list and make sure you have thanked people for their help.)
  13. Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you’re the one who gets burned.
  14. There’s gold in every relationship, even the difficult ones. To bring riches to all your relationships, you have to find the gold.

Again, these are Byrne’s opinions, but I found the list to be very practical and applicable to my life.

I hope you find at least one suggestion that will enrich your life and relationships.

If You Liked “Lean In,” This is a Must-Read

May 7th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you know I have recommended Lean In — and I still do. I thought the author, Sheryl Sandberg, was very transparent about being a woman executive, and she offered some great tips.

That being said, I would also highly recommend reading The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know, by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman. It reminded me of a Daniel Pink book, filled with references to substantial research from many sources. If I were to attempt to summarize the main topic, it would be that there’s a difference in perceived confidence between men and women. If you’re a business leader, man or woman, this is a must-read.

As I’ve already mentioned, the book is rich in objective research. In addition, the authors have interviewed successful women executives and they weave their own stories into the book, too. To whet your appetite, I’ll offer some of my favorite takeaways/quotes:

  1. We see it everywhere: Bright women with ideas to contribute who don’t raise their hands in meetings.
  2. Yes, there is evidence that confidence is more important than ability when it comes to getting ahead.
  3. In studies with business school students, men initiate salary negotiations four times as often as women.
  4. Confidence is the stuff that turns thoughts into action.
  5. Confidence is life’s enabler — professionally, intellectually, athletically, socially, and even amorously.
  6. So is confidence encoded in our genes? Yes — at least in part.
  7. It’s the effect of nurture on nature that really matters and makes us who we are.
  8. There’s a direct link between playing sports in high school and earning a higher salary later in life.
  9. When a man walks into a room, he’s assumed to be competent until he proves otherwise. For women, it’s the other way around.
  10. Women are judged more harshly at work and in life on their physical appearance than men.
  11. An unhelpful habit most women have is overthinking.
  12. Of all the warped things women do to themselves to undermine their confidence, the pursuit of perfection is the most crippling.
  13. Confidence comes from stepping out of your comfort zone and working toward goals that come from your own values and needs — goals that aren’t determined by society.
  14. Nothing builds confidence like taking action, especially when the action involves risk and failure.

This book is based on extensive research, and I believe it offers some very practical advice.

p.s. Here’s a closing idea for those of you who are dads with daughters. I have a friend who read the book with his 20-something daughter and had a discussion after each chapter. What a special gift — for both of them!

New Scientific Discoveries About Talent

April 23rd, 2018 // Tom Doescher //
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Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I have commented on the importance of “deliberate practice” in other posts, including on July 21, 2014. Many of us want to say, “Well, I could never do that because I’m not as talented as he or she is.” According to a number of authors and studies, however, that’s just not true. The fact is that with a reasonable amount of talent, you can become outstanding — but understand that it will take a lot of hard work and practice (unfortunately, there’s no supplement you can take).

On the front cover of The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle, there’s a quote from In Search of Excellence author Tom Peters: “I am willing to guarantee that you will not read a more important and useful book in this or any other year.” Wow, what an endorsement!

In his book, Coyle focuses on what are termed “talent hotbeds.” Talent hotbeds are tiny places that produce disproportionate, “Everest-size amounts” of talent — examples include Brazilian footballers or Korean women golfers — and the book provides a wide variety of impressive examples. The key theme of the book is these talent hotbeds aren’t random occurrences, but are places that share the same skill acquisition and success. Each hotbed has certain characteristics and patterns of targeted, deep practice that builds skill, and the result is accelerated learning.

What was fascinating to me were recent studies of the brain that support the premise that practice — as Coyle calls it, “deep practice”— makes Tom a better (insert whatever you want to be better at). Coyle uses a lot of medical terms, including “myelin,” to make his case, and his conclusions are supported by the work of other scientists.

I believe the most important takeaway is this: If you want to get better at something, find others who are perceived as the best, learn from them, and then practice, practice, practice.

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

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