The Coach's Corner

Archive for the ‘Sharpening Your Personal Leadership Skills’ Category

Are You Looking for Career Advice, or Do You Regularly Give Career Advice?

September 9th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

If your answer is yes, I would highly recommend reading Strategize to Win by Carla A. Harris, vice chair of Morgan Stanley. I try to be careful not to suggest too many books, but Harris provides some common-sense (or not so common) tips regarding jobs — or, as I like to say, careers. She’s a very good writer (or has a great ghost writer), which makes it a quick, easy read. You can tell she’s a consultant because she also offers some great checklists at the end of each chapter, and poses thoughtful rhetorical questions. Maybe the only caution would be that she’s a Wall Street investment banker, so for some her advice may not be as helpful. Here are my takeaways:

  1. Sadly (to me), she suggests people entering the workforce today should plan six to eight five-year modules at different companies. As a guy who spent 40 years at the same awesome firm, that’s hard to hear — but I understand.
  2. I think that much of Harris’s wisdom would be beneficial, even if you’re in a great place and intend to stay. In my experience, today’s workplace reminds me of a fast-forwarded video. There never seems to be enough time. Customers are more demanding than ever, and technology has sped up the way we receive and share information, but humans are still humans. Harris is very clear that you need to take charge of your own career.
  3. Harris is talking about the workforce (both leaders and associates), but I believe her advice applies to customer/client relationships, as well.
  4. Sorry to bring up introverts again, but Harris’s advice will encourage introverts to step out at times. Harris says she often hears people (probably introverts) erroneously say, “I don’t need to go out of my way to build relationships; I’ll let my work speak for itself.” This observation applies to both your company and your customers/clients.
  5. She also provides her spin on being a leader. According to Harris, a leader should have leverage; be efficient in communicating; be willing to act; be diverse; engage; and be responsible.

When I reflect on my daily conversations with owners and associates, I realize that Harris addresses so many of the common challenges faced today. If she lived closer, I would probably figure out a way to meet her, and would use her as an advisor. She has obviously experienced many different “real life” business situations and has an ability to simplify a lot of facts into some practical, logical action steps.

Let me stick my neck out. If you engage in business (as an owner or associate), I would highly recommend reading this book.

Is Your Employee Turnover Too High?

August 26th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In this historically low unemployment environment, many business owners are struggling to keep their people. According to the leadership coaching team Bliss & Associates, the cost of employee turnover averages 150 percent of the employee’s annual compensation. Wow!

In his book, The Dream Manager, Matthew Kelly offers some very practical advice. The book is a fictional story/fable, similar to Patrick Lencioni books, and it’s a powerful, quick, easy read. Kelly opens the book by quoting Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined!” He goes on to quote statistics on the high level of disengagement by employees in the workplace today.

Kelly states that people generally do not leave because of money. Remember Marcus Buckingham’s Gallup results and his 12 Questions, now reduced to 8? (You can get a PDF copy of both the 12 and 8 Questions in the Resource section of my website.)

Most of the book is about “dreams,” but the fictional company owner reluctantly agrees to a one-question employee survey, recommended by his COO. Here’s the question: Why do you think so many people come and go from our company? It’s a very simple, but powerful, question, and although the results are shocking, they’re relatively easily dealt with. However, as my mentor, Ken Kunkel, used to warn me, “Be careful what you ask for.” By that, he meant that if you ask, you need to be prepared to do something, and not just “receive and file” the advice. You’ll probably be surprised, and it may cost some money, but do the math. How many people left your company last year? What was their average compensation? Multiply that result times 150 percent, and that’s what it’s costing now, if you do nothing.

Most of the book involves a revolutionary idea that may be more than you’re willing to take on at this time. I would still encourage you to read it; it may stimulate an idea or two that you can implement.

If you’re concerned about your high turnover rate, I would highly recommend you and your leadership team read The Dream Manager.

If you’re a financial/wealth management advisor and you’re looking for ways to use your skills and give back to your community, I would also recommend you read this book.

The Final Quest

June 17th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

is a fascinating little book that has significantly impacted me for the past several months.

First, a disclaimer: It’s written by a Christian pastor about a series of dreams (visions) he had about the spiritual world. For that reason, you may want to skip this post.

Secondly, again as a Christian, he’s writing from his point of view of the Bible. Again, if that’s not something that’s to your taste, you may want to skip this post.

For those of you who are still with me, I would highly recommend this book, written by Rick Joyner. It’s a short, easy read. Whether the author’s vision of the spiritual world is “real” or whether he just has a vivid imagination, he’s able to paint a very realistic picture. In my three decades of being a Bible student, I’ve had limited exposure to the dark side of scripture. Joyner’s version of what could be or might be going on is very believable — to the point where I’ve thought of it almost every day since finishing the book. He has expressed a point of view that would explain experiences that I have daily.

As you know, the first category in the Doescher Advisors Executive Health Check-up is “Spiritual Health.” With that in mind, The Final Quest is something you may want to at least consider reading and reflecting upon.

What if what Joyner reports is true? How might it affect you?

What Is the Key to Leading a Healthy and Happy Life?

February 4th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Believe it or not, for 80 years Harvard researchers have studied the question of what is key to a healthy and happy life. In 1938, scientists began tracking 268 Harvard students to try to determine the answer, and today the Harvard Study of Adult Development is still working on the project with the remaining 19 students, who are now well into their 90s. I will let the current study director, Robert Waldinger, share with you their surprising findings in this fascinating 12 minute TED talk.

All I Want Is To Blend In

August 6th, 2018 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

One of my Flint business colleagues gave me a copy of Imperfect: An Improbable Life, an autobiography of Jim Abbott. Because he grew up in my new hometown, I found the book to be very educational. For those of you who don’t know of him, Abbott is a famous baseball player who got his start as a star pitcher at Flint Central High School and the University of Michigan. He was a starting pitcher on the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning baseball team and he pitched a no-hitter for the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

After finishing the book and reflecting on Abbott’s life, I pondered what I could tell you about this remarkable man. I could focus on his mom and dad, who were teenage parents, or the cutthroat nature of professional baseball, or the painful process of determining when to end a professional career, or what it’s like to be the spouse of a professional athlete in the crosshairs of the media, or what a great job his young parents did raising him.

Oh, yeah, did I mention that Abbott was born without a right hand?

After a great deal of thought, I decided to share two lessons I learned from reading about Abbott’s life.

The first deals with his desire not to be thought of as different. If you see pictures of him in street clothes, he always has his right (hand) in his pocket, and looks like any other person you might walk past. He tells a story about a time he was being introduced as the speaker at an event. In his introductory comments, the well-intentioned master of ceremonies mentioned that Abbott was missing his right hand. As Abbott listened, he thought to himself, Why? Just let my accomplishments of a gold medal and a no-hitter stand for themselves.

The takeaway, for me, is that it’s important to be more sensitive to any labels or adjectives I use when telling my many stories. Is it really necessary to say things about a person’s height, or where they’re from, or what ethnic group they belong to, or to make observations that sound more like stereotypes? I felt convicted.

My hero on the subject of avoiding labels is my youngest son, Joey. He had a new roommate who I had not yet had a chance to meet. Joey often spoke about his roommate and, from everything he said, they seemed to really be a good match. Well, one day I finally met the roommate. Based on things my son had said when describing his roommate, I had been expecting that this young man was going to look a lot like our family. To my surprise, he wasn’t like us at all. I was proud of Joey’s ability to overlook the stereotypes that might have been placed on his roommate, and to instead focus on the person his roommate is.

The second lesson I gleaned from Abbott’s life is “deliberate practice,” a concept with which I am obsessed. Starting at 4 years old, Abbott would throw baseballs against a wall in his backyard for hours and hours. It was there, in his backyard, that he taught himself to switch his glove to his right arm so he could throw, and then return it to his left hand to catch the rebound. (The book includes some really cool stories of how Abbott overcame adversity and was able to field balls, including bunts, in the majors.)

Do you want to be successful at something? If you didn’t have a right hand, would you dare to set a goal of pitching a no-hitter against the Cleveland Indians in Yankee Stadium?

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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