post

Use your Turn Signal and Communicate

This morning on my way home from the gym, when I was a block away from my house, I pulled up to an intersection to turn left. Oncoming traffic that was turning left across my path never signaled to turn. Not one person turned on their blinker to let me know they would be turning across my path. Truly this a was clear lack of communication!

Laziness, relative lack of enforcement, a little confirmation bias on my part, yes probably.

Naturally this is a large generalization, but it’s one that keeps weighing on my own experiences in business. I believe, like our lack or willingness to communicate in business, our car culture in America makes driving a thing we take very much for granted, and it makes people less than courteous as a result.

I have found that the root cause of most business problems simply comes down to lack of clear communication. Not defining a plan to others is not showing direction. Not following procedure is like not turning on your blinker. Not having standard working procedures is like not have a turn signal at all.  Often business situations involve communication between two or more people from different positions, in different roles and with different goals and objectives just like cars on the road.

I am not perfect, but I use my turn signals all the time. I also work hard to improve my communication in business. Streamlining procedures, teaching others to follow protocols and returning emails.

Effective business communication like good driving etiquette can help me, as well as you. Today and every day, improve the little things like communication with others and like using your turn signals.

post

Traumatic brain injuries and I

troy-selberg-helmetsI’m the father of an equestrian jumper, former NASCAR Motorsports professional and an avid Panthers fan. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) has always been a part of life and minor head injuries are a routine occurrence. From riders falling of horses, drivers bumping the wall and their heads racing cars, to football players hard hit; people often lead with their heads when they move about.

As a father of an equestrian rider I know firsthand, the most frequent cause of death and serious injury for mounted and dismounted horse activities is head injury. Head injuries are associated with approximately 60% of all equestrian deaths and 18% of equestrian injuries. One concussion incident took two weeks of a dark room treatment, missed school, no computers and endless crying by the whole family.

Other TBI incidents with friends and Nascar drivers like Ernie Irvin who has been injured twice. The first injury was while racing at the Michigan Speedway on August 20, 1994 going about 180 mph, and his right front tire blew. His second accident occurred 5 years later to the day August 20, 1999. Again at the Michigan Speedway while practicing for the Busch Series race. Ernie had to relearn many things in order to be able to function again with the handicaps. In spite of my injuries, he considers himself fortunate.  Other friends like Bobby Allison also recover from his brain injury, but he never raced again and side effects of the crash still follow him today. Driver Jerry Nadeau during practice for a NASCAR Cup race at Richmond International Raceway spun and hit the Turn 1 wall at 135 times the force of gravity. Though Jerry accepted that his physical limitations ended his career at 33, it still frustrates him. Steven Park’s recovery from TBI seemed to come quickly–too quickly, some thought. He was back behind the wheel within weeks, but he was different: He was emotional, his speech was a bit slurred, and while he was still very fast, he crashed a lot and often hard. By the end of 2003, Park was out of Cup racing.

The symptoms Dale Earhart Jr has effects his balance and he is overcome with nausea. Dale Jr. stepped out of the sport and put his health and quality of life as a top priority. He is going to take things slow and strictly follow the advice of his doctors, and try to learn as much as he can to be smarter and wiser before getting back into a car.

Now the NFL wants players like Cam Newton to take care of their own health and report any head trauma. Part of the problem is that a player needs his brain to know whether his brain is working. Even with non-brain injuries, in the heat of competition, a player may not know the extent of injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are for real. Usually, a few stars are seen, a headache happens, and all is well. Sometimes it isn’t so clear. The person may be knocked out for a few seconds, may vomit, and perhaps may have some loss of memory but by the time the doctor visits the bedside, everything is back to normal. Traumatic brain injuries don’t just effect some, they effect more that you may understand. Be smart, Be educated and protect your friends and love ones.

post

Sphere of Influence

who's cup of coffeeEveryone needs a sphere of influence. Not to influence others as much as to be influenced by others. Influence can work both ways; it has a halo effect, so association with others of influence, such as leaders, “movers and shakers,” or celebrities, extends your sphere of influence. I would like to share with you the types of influencers that I keep in my sphere.

 

  1. A VP or key sales person within a trucking or logistics company
  2. The owner of an auction company
  3. A soda or beer distributor route person

Never before in the history of business has there been so much change. The only constant in business today is change, from customer demand, to technology, to new products and services. Trucking and logistics companies are the first to feel a shift in the economy. They are the first to see a slowdown in manufactured goods and the supplies to manufacture these goods. They are also the first to see new business trends and are able to gage their growth before others even notice. Case in point, while visiting the small town of Centerburg, Ohio I spoke with the UPS driver that was dropping off goods to a company with which I was doing business. In a conversion, the driver told me about the fastest growing company in the area. It was an internet-based sales company with two employees that moved a 40ft UPS trailer of goods per day. Funniest part of this story was, none of the employees of the small town customer of mine knew of the internet company that soon grew larger than them. The owner of this growing internet company soon built a 100,000 square foot building in the small town of Centerburg. Trucking and Logistics people are great for your Sphere of Influence.

Auctioneers are the best storytellers ever because they learn so much from the customers they do business with.  If you take time to listen to them you will also learn these lessons, and that’s why they are a “must” for your circle of influence. Auctioneers are the first to hear of a business that may be failing or not paying taxes. They learn firsthand by the ones closest to the goods being auctioned how people once made their money and how they subsequently lost it. Auctioneers see trends in business models up to a year before other insiders get traditional “data.” They work hand-in-hand with all the banks and internal revenue systems. An Auctioneer is another perfect person for your sphere and I have one in mine.

Last but not least in my Sphere of Influence is a drink distributor route driver. This group of people are hardworking networkers.  Drink distributor route drivers service all types of businesses from convenience stores, to bars, to mom & pop restaurants. They see how much product is moving and the trends in consumer confidence. They drivers interact with not only the owner and managers of these businesses they call on, more importantly they interact with the employees who are face-to-face with the consumers. When the economy is growing, consumers buy more beer and soda and these drivers understand it and have great insights to the workings of many types of business that you can tap into—if they are in your Sphere.

There is no defined scale on how to measure the sphere of influence—fill yours with the kind of people who help tip you off to trends that are meaningful in your Sphere. “An Auctioneer, a VP and a Driver walk into a coffee shop…..” What happens next is up to You.

Seated Workstation Challenge

seatedThe truth is, sitting isn’t killing us. But as this photo will demonstrate, sitting in poor postures for long periods with little movement and few breaks for standing or walking can impact our health and reduce our productivity.

Training and education are made even more critical by the realities of today’s workplace. Workers are mobile. Armed with smartphones and laptops, they can be on the move. But while the benefits of such movement are clear, so are the risks. Access to treadmills and height-adjustable worksurfaces doesn’t stop deadline-driven employees from spending five hours each day huddled together in a conference room, hunched over computers on their laps, interrupted by stints of texting and emailing on handheld devices.

You must be prepared to educate employees on the available choices, and on how to make the right ones. Your employees bear a responsibility too. The good news is, technology has freed them from the cubicle. The bad news is, they can still sit poorly at an improperly adjusted worksurface. Workers must become more aware of the options available to them and, as they move throughout the day, they must learn how to choose their postures and places wisely. You can leverage the physical space and options they’ve made available to increase employee accountability on such issues. In turn, you should tie the use of sitting, standing and walking options to bigger organizational goals. The result can be workers who not only feel better; they also are more engaged with their work and their peers. Ultimately, that leads to a stronger organization, overall.

Creative Expression

Creative Expression by Troy Selberg

CreativeWhat is Creative Expression and how can we find it? As an adult, we may have learned to cover up or set aside much of our inner life, in order to get along with others and do our jobs. But if we want to be more fully alive and creative, it can really help to understand and stay in charge of our thinking and feelings. As author and entrepreneur Seth Godin says, “What you do for a living is not be creative, what you do is ship.”

In motorsports, to finish first – first you must finish – but perhaps we should add while obeying the rules. Before the start of a new season, NASCAR publishes a sets of rules–a lengthy tome of technical regulations, spelling out in detail every rule that covers the construction of a race car. It is up to the fabricators, engineers and craftsmen to define and work within the rules (or gray areas!) to get every ounce of speed and durability from their hand built machines.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with many gifted and high-profile individuals over the years and I’ve had an ongoing curiosity about why some people are more creative than others. I’m puzzled about whether creativity is a general skill comprised of traits and attributes that gives one the ability to apply highly creative thinking to any project regardless of domain or discipline? Or is creativity specialized, giving individuals creative-thinking skills and proclivities that apply only to one domain, no different than a Super Bowl winning coach wants to recreate that winning team over and over again?

Through my experiences (AKA watching and doing case studies), I have found that, to be creative, individuals must first internalize their culture, knowing the rules, the mores, and the conventions. But if they are only traditional and stick to those conventions, creativity never takes place, cultures don’t move forward, and nothing changes. Yet change simply because an individual wants change doesn’t produce lasting improvements and contributions either. It’s the synergy between having the rebelliousness to go where others haven’t gone while recognizing and keeping in tact what’s a valued contribution to the culture and task at hand.  Those individuals also possess a great amount of passion around their work, pursuing it until they experience an internalized sense of satisfaction with the finished product.

Creative individuals greatly enjoy life to the fullest, their openness and receptiveness giving them a great appreciation for culture, the arts, music, and sports. Creative individuals sincerely enjoy playful attitudes, having fun, jesting, and know the value of laughter and keeping situations and environments light and free from unreasonable drama. They know their strengths. They also are extremely focused on new accomplishments and challenges, regardless of past successes, realizing, as writers testify, a new, blank page awaits them every day.

Therefore, creativity is a culture, a passion of loving what you do by solving problems. It’s giving your employees purpose in their lives, at work and with their families. Transforming the workplace to invite openness and fun. Make accountability enjoyable but receptive. The perfect workspace isn’t what leads to brilliant work, but in my experiences, it’s a great start…

A Creative Bird

Creative hobbieCreative bacon turkeys relieve stress, less stress leads to higher productivity. Whether it’s rebuilding an old car or cooking during the holidays, the impact it can have on your work life might surprise you. Some of our best business ideas might pop up when we’re in the kitchen, in a totally different frame of mind.

 

Each year, on the fourth Thursday in November, we gather for a day of feasting, football, and family. Today’s Thanksgiving celebrations would likely be unrecognizable to attendees of the original 1621 harvest meal. With that said, Thanksgiving continues to be a day for Americans to come together around the table.

You have football games planed, family is on the way, and you’re set on going with a traditional roasted bird. Well… maybe you should look into a creative method for cooking your turkey. There are a lot of challenges in creative cooking and these challenges can build character. Here are some ideas to help your creative muscles flex.

Pancetta-Wrapped: Texas bacon- bold, delicious, super moist and savory.

Braised: (cordless crock-pot cooking) ensures moisture in the meat,

Deep-fried: a Southern tradition that’s biggest challenge involves not burn the house down or sending anyone to the ER. 

Grilled: the crisp smokiness of grilled turkey beats the oven and gives a reason to be outside enjoying drinks.

Manischewitz-Brined : cooked in Concord Grape Wine. This method will produce a bright purple turkey.

Smoked: slow, indirect heat using special types of wood will infuse different flavors to the bird. 

Beer Can: the beer-can stand ensures evenly cooked meat and the evaporating beer keeps your bird moist.

Spatchcocked: involves butterflying the bird, removing the spine, and splaying it flat. 

Stuffed with other birds: best know as Turducken, the delicate culinary concoction of a chicken, inside of a duck, inside a turkey…

If you often question, do I have a creative bone in my body? The answer is YES. Creative activities like cooking during the holidays, serve as a means to learn more about our individual strengths and weaknesses. Remember, there are a million-and-a-half recipes, and a million-and-one ways to prepare your culinary concoction. Be creative, flex yourself, and you just might find a part of you that never existed. Have a Safe & Happy Thanksgiving.

Purpose and the Ants

life calling modelAfter 21 years of living in the same house, my yard has grown to take on a life of its own. So recently, I have been working hard to take my yard back. Working hard and fighting with ants led me to think about how we find purpose in our lives.

My release from corporate American is yard work. A set of ear buds and some yard tools relieve my mind to ponder about other things. If you have done any yard work at all, you have probably battled ants. They are very structured and are hard to deal with. By just watching their mound, it‘s plain to see that all ants in a colony work together cohesively. They all know their roles and nobody steps on each other’s toes. Together, they are the perfectly functioning organisms. It makes me believe they know their purpose.

Now, lets compare ourselves to ants: We wake up. We go to work. We come back home. We watch TV. We go to sleep. We wake up. We go to work. We come back home. We watch TV. We go to sleep. And it just keeps going day after day after day. Sometimes we wonder if we’ve been on the “wrong” path, chosen the wrong career, or the wrong life partner. Or that perhaps we haven’t realized that our chosen path could be more meaningful or purposeful.

The reality is that most people today are so caught up with a million things that ultimately do not make a difference in their lives. Ask yourself this; what are my personal values, strengths and capabilities—the things that are true of me and are at the core of who I am? What is the scaffolding of my purpose? We all have our unique set of talent, background, opportunities, ideas, creativity, and the like. The equation looks like this:

Your Values + Strengths + Passions + Service = Your Purpose

Don’t let all the different variables discourage you. Once you dedicate some time for introspection and reflection on those variables, you’ll rapidly start to realize the direction you need to move in.

Start by creating 3 lists:

  • Your values
  • Your strengths
  • Your passions

The key is to figure out how you can combine your passions and strengths in service to a cause, person, community, or organization other than yourself. Do that and your values will fall into place.

It took 21 years for my yard to become out of control and for the ants, to teach me about how nature works. Ironic how humans like us, whose behavior arises from the interactions of its components has something in common with ant colonies.

All day, every day, the world’s ant nests are active: scouting, processing food, fighting and tending to the young. It’s never too late to get your yard under control, never to late to find a purpose and never to late to learn from ants.

Where are they now?

The year was 1978, I was an eighth grader, building a metal tool box for one of our four projects in shop class. Little did we know or understand, we where being taught a trade. Fast forward to 1993 during a trip to New York City. I stood in Grand Central Station, taken aback by the stonework and the engineering. I had been through the terminal before, but never took the time to view the craftsmanship. The journalist and novelist Tom Wolfewould wrote: “Every big city had a railroad station grand to the point of glorious classical architecture that dazzled and intimidated. The great architects of Greece and Rome would have averted their eyes featuring every sort of dome, soaring ceiling, king-size column, royal cornice, lordly echo thanks to the immense volume of the spaces and the miles of marble, marble, marble but the grandest, most glorious of all, by far, was Grand Central Station.”

This summer during my trip to NYC, deep in The Bronx’s Van Cortlandt Park, I visited thirteen stone pillars that were installed in the 1910s before Grand Central Terminal was built. Their use was to test the durability of different types of stone that would be used for the facade of Grand Central. I pondered the craftsmen once again, their drive, their skills and the sacrifices their families suffered during construction.

Grand Central Terminal was built between 1903 and 1913, opening February 2, 1913. The terminal was a product of local politics, bold architecture, brutal flexing of corporate muscle and visionary engineering. No other building embodies New York’s ascent as vividly as Grand Central. Its concave ceiling created a view of the heavens from Aquarius to Cancer in an October sky, 2,500 stars, 59 of them illuminated and intersected by two broad golden bands representing the ecliptic and the Equator. For several months, painters debated how to squeeze the heavens onto a cylindrical ceiling, because the artist Paul Helleu’s version seemed more fitting for a dome, and they experimented to find just the proper shade of blue.

Where are these craftsmen today? Where is the drive? Where are the skill sets? Where is the quality? Consider these following statistics. The average age of today’s tradesperson is 56, with an average of 5-15 years until retirement. As skilled laborers retiree in masses, America will need an estimated 10 million new skilled tradesmen by 2020 (such as a pipe fitters, masons, carpenters, or high-skilled factory workers). But even today, an estimated 600,000 jobs in the skilled trades are unfilled and, while 83% of companies report a moderate to serious shortage in skilled laborers.

Not everybody in the modern economy will have “dirt under their nails” after a day’s work;, where are the plumbers, landscapers, carpenters, and electricians? Over time, shop class meant a place where children of “white collar” workers like me, could make toolboxes, a bird feeder or toy car in shop class, but they it had promoted few remaining skills of the true craftsmen, which for centuries had been passed on through a process of apprenticeship.

What can we do about this problem? Although this is a monumental challenge, we can do at least two things. First, praise examples of excellent craftsmanship from auto mechanics, jewelers, masons, electricians and the like that arise above the criticism and display an ethic of skill, beauty and manual intelligence in their work. Second, and most importantly, encourage more young people to go to trade school. While the majority of craftsmen will learn and develop their skills on the job, it is common for most to have at least a high school education. Options exist in community colleges, vocational schools and even higher education institutions for advanced learning.

Here’s to the future: the perfection of our future craftsmen. I respect them and work to generously assist them however I’m able. This will keep me busy until the end of my days. It’s a challenge I gladly accept. I, too, am a craftsman, and always shall be.

 

If you could, would you go back?

While you can’t go back in a time, you can pay it forward. Hindsight is 20/20 and some of the best insights come from past experiences. As you ponder about yourself, here is a little of my story.

From the outside, Motorsports looks like it’s all about the beer cans and chicken bones, all that rubber in your face and loud cars. In fact, it’s all about coming up with new designs that offer solutions to industry problems and seeing your designs transferred into a commercial reality. Motorsports offered a lot of freedom to test your ideas against other groups of people who thought they too, had a better mousetrap.

You see, I grew up in a sport having access to state-of-the-art technology and I was learning new skills on a daily basis. I was working in a field that significantly crosses over with my hobbies, so most of the time; my work doesn’t really feel like work. Every day brought a new challenge, and I found it particularly satisfying to watch or read a five-star review of a vehicle that I have had a role in testing components for, and know I had a small part in its creation.

Everyone loves working in a team, and for years I lived, breathed and slept Team. My role also required a high level of precision and attention to technical detail, which I find very rewarding, and I like being able to work across a wide variety of projects. It all offers something different day-to-day.

Now days, I get the opportunity to meet fascinating people and improve their quality of life. After years of being part of a team adds to the job satisfaction, my life is never boring and my working days are often quite different.

You too should find every job equally exciting: The progress being made in many industries is rapid and seemingly exponential in its rate of change.

True hard work results in enormous personal satisfaction: “I’m getting the opportunity to use my skills and training to try to make a genuine difference to individuals and a community in great need. It is exactly the job I dreamed of doing when I was a high school student.”

My advice to others? If a job really isn’t working out, find something new and challenging. Life is too short. It’s the random experiences that make life exciting and will lead to new opportunities.”