Can I Give You Some Money?

I’ve always found it pretty easy to make money. Lots and lots of money. I made my first million at 12 years of age selling Ice Cold Lemonade at the Minnesota State Fair. I had so many return customers that I got to know them by name and I soon discovered that the more I used their name, the bigger the tips I seemed to receive.

It took several more years but even with the normal teenage chores of grass-cutting and homework I was able to parley that first million into nearly 10 million dollars by the time I graduated from high school. Truth be told, it would have been exactly $10,000,000 if I hadn’t had to repay my dad for the $12 in seed money he loaned me to start the lemonade stand.

I mostly invested that money during my college years but some of those investments really paid off and by the time I had a college degree I also had 25 millions dollars to go with it.

Speaking of college, I watched my classmates invent stuff for something called “the Internet” and World Wide Web and I had no idea what that was. It just didn’t seem like something that would catch on to me and I’m still wondering if the whole Internet thing isn’t just a passing fad.

They laughed at me when I invented a little blue pill in the science lab but I got the last laugh…. I sold that formula for 100 million and still get royalties for it to this very day. It was supposed to help improve posture by stiffening the spine but… 

Sometime in my twenties it became apparent that I would always have more money than I would ever need, so I started giving it away. I figured I’ve given away almost 300 million so far. I’ve given money to almost every “cause” you can think of.

I gave 20 million to a guy in Australia that I met on a plane. He was doing research to determine if it was possible to use ants to turn turbines that would generate enough energy to power Sydney without the additional use of energy from the power grid.

I’m not sure how that worked out, but when I was in Sydney I had electricity in my hotel room so maybe he pulled it off.

I gave a college kid out east named Mark something 50 bucks several years ago to start some social networking thing on a computer … He called it Face something or another…. I wonder how that turned out for him?

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio say that Donald Trump inherited 100 million from his father and I know for a fact that isn’t true. The truth is, I loaned my friend Donald his first 100 million to get his start his business. Every time I see him he tells me he is going to pay me back tomorrow… that Donald, he is such a kidder.

I still give away loads of money today. As you can imagine there are lots of people who need help. So many in fact that I just can’t verify the legitimacy of their requests. Because of those limitations I limit what I will give to an initial amount of $500,000. If they do well with the initial investment I give them more. If they don’t make money with it or let me know how they are doing I can get very stingy in a hurry. They won’t get much more from me.

My one regret is that it can take a while for me to respond to everyone. Sometimes it can take a week or more. So if you have a request please be patient and in the meantime, have a wonderful April Fools Day!

Do Back-up Plans Lead to Failure?

There is a school of thought that says having a back-up plan is acknowledging that your original plan will not not succeed. The people who hold to this school of thought also believe that it’s that apparent lack of confidence that causes the ultimate failure of the plan.

I do not agree with that. I think not having a back-up plan is absolutely irresponsible. I like confident people but thinking you will never need a back-up plan is beyond confident, it’s more like cocky. Cocky may win the day but confident wins all the tomorrows.

I have plans. Well thought out, detailed plans. I have total confidence in my plans and when I have complete control over every aspect of my plan I don’t bother with a back-up plan. The trouble is, I can’t ever recall a plan where I had complete control over every aspect of the plan.

So for everything I want to accomplish I make a plan and one or two, or more, back-up plans to go with it. The back-up plans are full of “what if” scenarios for all the things, and people, outside of my control. My first back-up plan is the one that takes into account the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen and the subsequent back-up plans are all developed to improve on that worst situation. 

Some of my back-up plans are little more than thoughts, some are actually quickly written plans and some require some serious thought and investment of time.  

Regardless of how in-depth the back-up plans are it’s actually those plans that make my original plan more likely to succeed. After I make the back-up plans I review the original plan to remove as many of the uncontrollable elements as I possibly can.   

Considering alternate possibilities when planning doesn’t make you a failure, it leads directly to your success. A solid back-up plan allows you to pursue your goals and objectives with confidence, knowing that if something doesn’t go according to plan you’re well prepared to succeed anyway.

Don’t listen to people who tell you to work without a back-up plan, the best way to avoid needing a back-up is to have one ready to implement at a moments notice.


Influential Leadership

The premier American author on leadership, John Maxwell, says that leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less.

I wholeheartedly agree with that, wholeheartedly with a bunch of conditions. The conditions all have to do with where influence comes from. 

Influence doesn’t just happen, influence, like pretty much everything else in life must be earned. When you’re promoted to a leadership position the position comes with a certain degree of influence. The influence that comes with a position however is very perishable, it comes with an expiration date that more closely resembles milk rather than cheese. It doesn’t last long. 

Soon after being promoted to a leadership position you must begin to earn your influence. Your level of influence rises and falls based on your integrity, your ability to make decisions, the quality of your judgement, and your willingness to demonstrate to people that you actually care about them.

By the way, your level of influence is impacted by those same factors whether you occupy a leadership position or not. That’s why it is completely unnecessary to hold a position of leadership in order to lead. It’s your level of influence that provides you with an opportunity to lead, not a title or a position. 

A good many people in leadership positions fail to realize just how perishable their influence really is. They start thinking they “have arrived” and that people will continue to follow them no matter what. That is simply not the case.

If you’re a person who truly wants to lead then you must work to grow your level of influence every day. You must make certain that your words match your actions. You must make the decisions that non-leaders are unwilling or unable to make. Those decisions must be right far more often then they are wrong.

You also must actually care about the people you would lead. People will not follow an uncaring leader. If you’re not the type of person who is willing to invest yourself in someone else’s success then you will struggle as a leader. That doesn’t make you a bad person, it just means you’re likely a better follower than leader.

To become an influential leader don’t try to become a leader, try to become an influential person. When you develop the qualities required to grow your influence then the leadership opportunities will find you. 


The First Test of Leadership

Do you follow you? The ability to lead yourself is the first test of leadership. If you can’t lead yourself then it is beyond silly to believe that you could possibly lead anyone else. 

Even though it might sound easy, leading yourself can be a real challenge. When you slow down long enough to even ponder whether or not you would follow you then you’ll discover there is a lot to consider. 

Such as…

How well do you manage your emotions? Are you an emotional wreck? Do you wear your emotions on your sleeve? No one wants to follow someone whose emotions swing from hot to cold in a nano-second. You don’t want to follow that person either, even if that person is you. I could write several posts on the importance of understanding and controlling your emotions but that ability is where you’re ability to lead yourself, and others, begins.

Do you know your priorities? Do you have a plan, goals, and objectives for your life? In short, do you have a vision of where you eventually want to be? If not then I have a question for you… where exactly are you leading yourself? Leading yourself requires that you know yourself. It also requires that you know AND LIVE your core values and principles. Living your principles makes you a pretty attractive leader that others will want to follow as well.

Do you control your thoughts? Your thoughts tend to become your reality so the better your thoughts the better your reality. In those quiet times when there is no one to talk to but yourself you must be very careful about what you’re saying. When it comes to credibility your subconscious believes you’re the most credible person you know. If you talk negatively about yourself then you are going to absolutely believe it. If you think well of yourself then that will be reflected in your actions too. Just a word of caution here… to lead yourself exceptionally well requires that you fully understand the difference between loving yourself and being in love with yourself. One is beneficial, the other… not so much.

Do you manage your time or does your time manage you? I have a very low tolerance for people who tell me that they don’t have enough time. I have that low tolerance because when someone says “don’t have time” what I hear is “I’m too damn lazy to prioritize.” 

No one is the entire world has even one more minute in a day then you do. You do not have a shortage of time. If you think you do then please tell me about your core values, your principles, and the priorities that come from them. 

I’d bet a bunch of money that you can’t do that. Don’t try to do everything, just do everything that truly matters. When you do things in order of their importance many, many seemingly urgent things just fall away because you discover just how unimportant they really are. To lead yourself exceptionally well you must keep in mind the absolute unimportance of almost everything you do. That becomes much easier when you know what actually is important in your life. 

When you’re confident that you’re leading yourself to the life that you want then you’ve passed the first test of leadership. So…can you pass?

Creating Leadership Success

One of the common causes of failure among leaders is assuming that they cannot fail simply because they never have.

They assume that their future, and the future of their organization is just an almost automatic extension of their past. They assume that they will always succeed because they always have. That causes the assumption that because “things” have always been a certain way they will always be that way. 

That assumption has always been wrong but it’s never been more wrong than it is today. “Things” are most certainly changing and they are changing at a breakneck pace. 

This increased pace of change has never been on greater display than in the current United States Presidential Campaign. The Republican Party has completely missed the fact that people don’t want and won’t accept the status quo. The leadership of the party just assumed that despite all evidence to the contrary, “things” would eventually return to normal and everything would be as it was.

The Democratic Party is just as confused. They appear to be in the process of selecting a candidate who proudly says “I am a child of the sixties and I think like a child of the sixties.” Well guess what, as sad as it might make me and a lot of other people, children of the sixties are not the future of the United States or the world.

What once was isn’t anymore and leaders who fail to understand that absolute fact will themselves fall victim to failure. 

To avoid that all too common leadership failure you must know exactly why you do everything thing you do. If you’re doing anything, anything at all, simply because “we’ve always done it that way” then you are putting yourself, and your organization on a potential path to failure. If you assume that anything will be the same in just ten years as it is today then your path to failure is even wider.

Some, maybe even many, leaders from the Baby Boomer generation, when asked by a leader from the Millennial generation, “why do you do it that way?” see the question as a threat or a challenge to their leadership. They need to see it as an opportunity to verify that what they are currently doing is still the best way to do it. They need to see the question as an opportunity to improve. They absolutely need to understand that “the way they have always done it” might not actually be the best way to do it today.

To avoid this common leadership failure leaders must challenge their own thinking everyday and surround themselves with people who will challenge their thinking for them when they can’t or won’t. Then, and this is the real secret to leadership success, then they must allow those people who they have surrounded themselves with to actually challenge them with zero risk of reprisal.

Leaders who assume, hope or believe that “things” are not changing have blinded themselves to the fact that most everything IS changing and they are going to continue to change whether they are ready for it or not.

As President Lincoln said, “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Leaders who let the future happen will eventually fail. Leaders who continually create their future will have the best opportunity for continual success. 

Who is creating your future? 

How to be Lucky

I’ll bet the title of this post will interest a lot of people. Sadly, many of those people will not finish reading it. They won’t get much further than the very next sentence.

You see, being lucky requires bunches of hard work.

To those of you still reading let me congratulate you on possessing one of the most important qualities of “lucky” people… perseverance. Luck has a much easier time finding people who remain in the game after the “unlucky” people have given up. So many times success in business, and in life, is just over that next horizon. Pushing yourself beyond what you thought were your limits will often provide you with the “luck” that you need to succeed.

Lucky people don’t wait around for something good to happen; they make good things happen by taking the initiative. Hockey great Wayne Gretzky is quoted as saying “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” He scored a lot of goals and he took a lot of shots; the two tend to go hand-in-hand. 

You seldom see truly successful people sitting around saying “somebody ought to do something.” They know that they are somebody so instead of saying anything, they just get busy doing something. They are willing to risk failure so that they have a chance to succeed. When they fail, and make no mistake, they do fail, they learn from the failure and work harder so “luck” has a better chance of finding them next time.

Lucky people have a plan and it’s not only in their head. They have it written down. In great detail and with awesome specificity. The plan includes action steps all along the way. They don’t just read their plan, the execute their plan…every day.

Unlucky people say these people with a plan are lucky. Those unlucky people are correct. What the unlucky people don’t realize is that the lucky people made their luck when they made their plan.

Lucky people have a mentor or a coach. Their mentor helps them develop and execute their plan. Their mentor doesn’t allow them to quit. Their mentor pushes them to take the initiative. When they fail their mentor picks them up and shoves them back into the game. 

Their mentor is like their “lucky charm.” When people have a coach or mentor who truly cares about their success then they are not only lucky, they are blessed.

It’s tough to succeed and some days it may feel as if it’s getting tougher by the minute. Every successful person has had some help along the way with developing their own “luck.” If you truly want to be successful then find yourself a mentor and ask for their help. 

You will be surprised at just how lucky you really are!

Two Possibilities of Leadership

If you’re a leader who has someone reporting to them who isn’t getting the job done there are only two possibilities.

The first possibility is that YOU hired the wrong person for the job. The second possibility is that YOU have not provided the individual with the tools and coaching they need in order to succeed.

Either way, their lack of success is on YOU!

That’s called leadership. If you don’t like that or you don’t want to accept that, then perhaps the whole leadership thing is a bit beyond your abilities.

Are you riled up yet? I hope so because as a leader it can be good to show a little emotion once in a while. Riled up isn’t the best emotion in the world but hey, it’s better than no emotion. 

By the way, this post is not about emotion but now that I’ve gone there I think I need to go there a little more. Emotion doesn’t have to mean yelling, screaming, and waving your arms like a maniac. Sometimes the most emotional leaders are the ones who don’t waste their energies showing emotion, they invest their energies in caring for their people and helping them succeed. 

I know there may be circumstances beyond the control of a leader that can result in the failure of one of their people. I also know that even though those circumstances are few and far between many so called leaders often use them as an excuse for why they aren’t responsible for the failures of their people.

Here is the point of this post: If you want to lead then you must, you must, you must, accept responsibility for the vast majority of your people’s shortcomings. I know how hard that is, I know how much you want to resist that fact, and I know all to well the temptation to find another reason for the failure of one of your people. But Authentic Servant Leadership isn’t easy, building others isn’t easy and helping others succeed isn’t easy, but it is the challenge that Authentic Servant Leaders accept. 

I think one of the reasons I like blogging is that everything is black and white. I’m typing with black font on a white background.. it doesn’t get much clearer than that. I fully realize that blogging this stuff is much easier and clearer than living this stuff. That said, in order to truly lead you must at least consider your role in the failings of your people. The good news is that you may also consider your role in their success.

Leading people has many rewards but before an Authentic Servant Leader would dare to accept even a single reward they willingly accept responsibility for most anything that goes wrong.