The Coach's Corner

Archive for 2016

All Lives Have Equal Value

December 19th, 2016 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In the past year, I had the good fortune of watching an interview with Melinda Gates. WOW!!! The title of this blog is her and Bill’s mantra, and it’s what drives the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Melinda, who refers to herself as an introvert, is making an enormous impact worldwide. (By the way, she grew up in a strong, faith-based middle class home in Dallas, attended an all-girls Catholic high school, and then went to Duke and received a bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA.) She left Duke to join Microsoft, where she was leading a large team, but elected to leave after 10 years to be home with the couple’s three children. She was very refreshing to listen to.

In addition to caring for the children, she runs the foundation, which employs 1,400 people. Another Wow. What they do all over the world is amazing, and I’m sure overseeing such a large enterprise creates a lot of pressure and stress. However, if I were her, my biggest stress would be caused by the responsibility of appropriately utilizing Warren Buffet’s fortune, most of which has been pledged to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That’s a Wow, Wow, Wow.

I’m sorry, I just needed to get her story out there.

So now to the business idea. When Melinda and Bill got involved with various causes, she said they were surprised to find out that very little accurate data — or even the measurement of important issues — was available. She then went on to recite a list of the data that she receives regularly and uses to determine the impact of their philanthropic investment; one example is that she gets a monthly report on the status of polio outbreaks around the world (one of Bill’s passions is to eradicate polio from the earth).

As I was listening to her, I thought of many companies whose leaders make decisions without good data. Money is spent based on anecdotal information, personal opinions, what a couple of customers said, and a myriad of other subjective sources.

If Melinda can get data on polio from some remote African village, I’m sure companies can retrieve useful data. It’s not easy, but it is possible.

Are you collecting the key data and metrics that will enable you to give your clients/customers what they “really” want, and then providing it in a profitable way?

Doescher Advisors Celebrates 5-Year Anniversary

December 12th, 2016 // Tom Doescher //

It’s hard to believe Doescher Advisors is celebrating our five-year anniversary. Pinch us! We are so blessed. As we’ve told many of you, we’re living the dream.

If you’re a client, former client, someone who has referred a client, or someone who has helped us, we sincerely thank you for the trust you have placed in us. We are humbled, and it has been a privilege to serve you.

tom-barbara-5th-anniversary-croppedHere are a few factoids from our first five years:

  1. We have served 40 executives from 25 companies. Currently, we meet monthly with 15 executives.
  2. Both of us have joined business networking groups, which have been very beneficial.
  3. We have posted 160 blogs and 24 Food for Thought (FFT) articles, which are now read by more than 200 subscribers.
  4. We have connected with more than 700 business executives through LinkedIn.
  5. We have administered dozens of LFYS assessments.
  6. We have read more than 75 business books, from which key takeaways have been summarized in our blog posts or FFT articles. Our readers have told us this is a nice service that saves them time.

As you know, our passion is for helping businesses increase profits and jobs. To that end:

  1. At no charge, we’ve helped more than 90 people with job interviews (including interview prep); business referrals; career counseling — some early in their careers, and others who have felt like they needed to make a mid-course correction; and gratis meetings to provide second opinions on important business decisions and strategies; and we’ve conducted meetings with executives who just needed someone who understands to listen to them.
  2. We introduced 10 people to companies that became their future employer.
  3. We placed three interns, two of whom were offered and accepted full-time positions.

A special thank you to Ken Kunkel, Dan Doescher, Jennifer Ballarin, Ellen Krugel, Demoree Elbing and Anne Daughtery whose assistance and support have been invaluable.

We are so appreciative of you and, in the years ahead, we pledge to strive to continue earning your trust so that we can serve you and those you refer to us.

Merry Christmas, Tom and Barbara

The Lenses of Leadership

December 5th, 2016 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Once again this past year, I had the privilege of hearing Bill Hybels speak at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. This time, he talked about the four leadership lenses and the important role they play in leading your team “from here to there” (Bill loves to use this metaphor).  The following are my takeaways:

  1. Passion Lens — Find and fill your passion bucket. Are you excited about the future and where you’re going? Is your dream as big as ever? How full is your passion bucket? Here are a couple of suggestions of things you can do to fill the bucket: Hang around or meet passionate people/leaders, and read books written by or about passionate leaders.
  2. People Lens — How are you doing with your team? Bill said if there’s a high level of trust among team members, there will be high levels of performance. Editorial comment: I talk about this subject frequently in my blogs, so I’ll only say that there’s a lot of value in his strong suggestion to have an outside firm measure your team’s “health.”
  3. Performance Lens — Bill’s main point here was that it makes a real difference when you have clear, achievable goals for your team members, and it’s important to let them know how they’re doing. They want to know and they deserve to know. He also recommended using a color-coded system that many of you are already aware of, which he labels as follows: Green — Thriving; Yellow — Healthy; Red — Underperforming.
  4. Legacy Lens — What is your legacy? What will people say about you when you’re gone? If you perceive that it’s not what you want, then do something about it and make some course corrections.

You may want to reflect on this list and set a few personal/business goals.

Bill closed by saying, “Leadership matters and we should never stop getting better!”

Wow, Glad They Had an Insider!

November 28th, 2016 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In my Hunter series, “Sandbox ‘Hunters’ Game Plan“, I talked about the importance of having an “insider” among your clients/customers. One of our clients recently experienced a nightmare, but fortunately they had a couple of great “insiders.” The client has served an automotive OEM for many years, and has enjoyed a true partner-type relationship. This past year, team members in our client’s internal quality control system discovered that a major assumption in their work was wrong, and it had resulted in some incorrect conclusions/data being provided to the OEM. Once they were certain of the facts, they immediately informed the OEM and began to redo their work at no cost to the client.

If that wasn’t bad enough, a few weeks later the ultimate catastrophe struck. Unbeknownst to our client and their immediate client contact, the OEM’s CEO was using the incorrect conclusion from their work as the basis for a presentation he was scheduled to make on the world stage of the New York International Auto Show. The good news is that the erroneous conclusion was discovered before the inaccurate facts were presented at the auto show. The bad news is that, at the last minute, the Hollywood-type presentation, with all its glitz and glamour, had to be significantly modified.

No, I’m not kidding. You’re probably ahead of me at this point, and you’re correct: The CEO wasn’t at all happy about the situation. (Actually, I would love to know what he said.)

After a very tense week filled with awkward conversations, the storm blew over. Based on what I know, our client’s insiders are the main reason they survived. Whew!

So, I ask again: Do you have an insider among each one of your major clients/customers?

We never know when a storm will strike.

p.s. This story has some other teaching points, such as confirming the value of providing outstanding service to a client over an extended period of time, and informing clients immediately when a potentially disastrous situation is discovered.

When is Helping NOT Helping? And When Feedback Hurts.

November 14th, 2016 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

After helping launch Plante Moran Global Services (PMGS) in China, I would visit twice a year and spend time with clients, suppliers and our Shanghai-based team. On the last evening of each visit, as a way of expressing my thanks to the team, I would host a dinner for the team members, their spouses and their children.

So far, so good.

Several years after the tradition began, I was traveling with one of the Shanghai team members to a supplier’s location. We began our journey in a taxi heading to the subway station, where we caught a high-speed bullet train to the Pudong Airport. There, we boarded a flight to a coastal city. When we arrived, my colleague had a distressed look. The plan had been to take a passenger vehicle to the supplier’s town, but a severe rain storm was in progress and my colleague thought it would be safer to take a bus. My colleague was trying to figure out how to politely ask me if it was OK. I agreed to the revised plan, and we continued our adventure on a bus filled with local people, animals and lots of luggage (like something you’d see in the movies). When we finally arrived at our destination, my colleague had that distressed look again — this time because there were no taxi cabs at the bus station. There were, however, bicycle rickshaws. Finally the colleague summed up the courage to ask, “Would it be OK if we rode in this?” My answer? “I would love to!” The supplier was waiting for us when we arrived at the rickshaw station and drove us safely to the plant. (Editor’s note: I have been wanting to tell that story for years.)

As you might imagine, I had a lot of questions for the colleague during our lengthy journey. Most of what I was trying to find out was how the team was doing, and how they thought we were doing supporting the Shanghai team, 8,000 miles away from Plante Moran’s office.

During the course of our seven modes of transportation, and after I had asked the same question various different ways,  my Shanghai colleague finally had the courage to tell me that the traditional team dinners were “nice.” However, since we went to a Western/American restaurant, the team had experienced sticker shock (my translation) and, to make matters worse, they didn’t especially care for the food. The crowning blow was when my colleague said, “It seems like a poor use of PMGS monies.”

I swallowed hard, and changed the venue for all future team dinners.

And I wondered, What else are we doing that’s stupid?

Hopefully this story motivates you to get feedback from your team. But can you beat my personal record of seven modes of transportation in just one day?

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.

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