Remember, Your Business is Your Stage

One of my favorite things about my work is the interesting people I am able to meet.

Yesterday, my friend Billy Boughey and I were spending time brainstorming business models when we happened to run into James Gilmore, the author of The Experience Economy. Being an idea expert himself, Billy who leads Elevate, was like a kid on Christmas morning when he met the guru.

Jim Gilmore

(Commercial … If you ever need to take an event to a world class level, Billy and his Elevate Team are the ticket)

The subtitle of Gilmore’s book, Work is Theater and Every Business a Stage, is a great challenge to anyone who leads an organization.

Hopefully, like the best thespians, you understand that theater is about the audience, not the actors.

As you think about your business, do you see the audience as the hero? If not, you are missing the point … people are looking for an experience, not a commodity.

In a Harvard Business Review article, Gilmore and Joe Pine wrote the following words:

“Ensuring the integrity of the customer experience requires more than the layering on of positive cues. Experience stagers also must eliminate anything that diminishes, contradicts, or distracts from the theme, Most constructed spaces – malls, offices, buildings, or airplanes – are littered with meaningless or trivial messages.”

If you want to elevate your game, I encourage you to evaluate your messages. Are they meaningless? Trivial? More about you than the audience? If so, it’s time to clear the clutter and create an experience.

Remember, your business is your stage. If you hope to get your message across, focus on what matters most … Your customers.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What is the best customer experience you have had during the past month?

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Are You Celebrating Where You Are?

Last night I read these words from my daughter’s latest blog…

“I am choosing to celebrate where I am, instead of mourning where I am not.”

She is currently in a time of transition, preparing for the next phase of life. Truthfully, it would be easy for her to give into the temptation of wishing she was somewhere else.

Are You Celebrating Where You Are?I meet people all the time who are wishing their life away – constantly looking down the road to what lies ahead. For leaders, one of the greatest challenges is to stay in the moment. By nature, we are wired to look ahead … to push for what’s next.

As you begin a new week, resist the urge to focus on the future. Instead, relish today; celebrate where you are. Today is the only day you have.

My daughter’s words, “I am choosing,” are the key. If you will choose to celebrate where you are, instead of mourning where you are not, you will increase your chances of getting to where you are going with a heart full of joy.

Leadership Begins at Home,


Why do you think leaders have such a hard time living in the moment?

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Is it Time for a Severance?

One of the most interesting words I know of is the word severance.

Whenever you hear the word, it is usually in reference to the kind of financial package one receives when leaving an employer.

The word is much older than our current usage. It actually has 15th century French-Anglo origins. It literally means to sever, as in, off-with-the-head. Thanks Charles and Louis.

One of the hardest parts of being a leader is having to let someone go from their position on the team. Whether driven by poor performance or a tough economy, severing a work relationship is never easy.

If you do find yourself in that unenviable position, you might want to consider the following:

  • Make sure the release is justified. Let someone go only for a good reason and as a last resort. The severance should not really come as a surprise, especially if you have communicated and documented things along the way. There is nothing worse than having the rug ripped out from under you when you are not expecting it.
  • Show the proper emotions. As the leader you will set the tone for the final meeting. The longer you have worked together, the more emotional it will be. Be genuine and empathetic. No one wants to be let go by an emotionless jerk. While there is light at the end of the tunnel from knowing the person is leaving, there should come a moment where you emotionally realize it might be an oncoming train. 
  • Treat people the way you would want to be treated. Just because you are parting ways does not mean it has to be personal. In fact, it should never be personal. Like the breakup of a relationship (cue Romeo & Juliet), parting should be “such sweet sorrow.” If you were on the other end of the conversation what would you want (and need) to hear? The answer to that question is probably a good indicator of what you need to say.
  • Get in, get out. Make the conversation quick. The person on the receiving end of the news does not need a long drawn out reason, just the truth.
  • Shoot your own horse. It goes without explanation that severance should not be delegated. A cowboy handles his own business when his horse goes down. If you personally hired the person, then you should be the one to break the news, even if they now answer to someone else. Value the relationship!
  • If you’re going to cut off my arm, don’t start with my hand. That is one of the best H.R. lines I have ever heard. Leadership requires courage. There is no reason to drag things out for months, or even years, when a personnel decision has to be made. Delay only serves to hurt the morale of the rest of the team and the accomplishment of the vision. You can only reassign so many times. Do what you need to do and move on.

Assuming you have gone through the effort of building a great team, parting ways will always be hard. But face the facts, everyone will eventually leave your team … Even you.

If the leaving requires severance, hopefully the above list will help.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What else would you add to my list?

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Choose Substance over Shiny

I have a friend who is a professional baseball scout. Although his organization is stocked full of great players, his search for talent is never ending.

But my friend is not looking for just any talent. During our conversations he often reminds me he is searching for the right guy … one who will be a great organizational fit.

He often passes on what appears to be great talent on paper. Why? Because, baseball games aren’t played on paper.

The best scouts would rather have the right, high-character, guy with good talent, than a highly sought-after star with below-average character.

High performance organizations consistently staff with the right kind of talent. Unless you have a clear profile of what you are looking for, you will likely settle for someone who is shiny.

If you want to gain a true competitive advantage, I encourage you to choose substance over shiny. Remember, the team with the BEST talent has the best chance of winning.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What character traits do you look for in a potential team member?

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When Motivation Fades … Focus on the Finish

Over the years, one of the places I have watched my motivation go up and down is in the area of fitness.

Exercise and nutrition provide us with a powerful reminder that motivation leaks. There is nowhere this is more true than in the middle of a marathon.

PerseveranceI have been crazy enough to step to the line several times over the past few years, and not once have I been able to prevent my motivation from waning at some point during each race.

When motivation fades, and it always does (whether you are running a race, working on a relationship, or trying to lead a team), the most powerful thing you can do is to focus on the finish.

More times than not, there is a greater reward awaiting if you will stay the course and remember your “Why?”

Whenever you hit one of those bad patches, think back to your WHY and you will be shocked at how much easier it becomes to push through the pain and finish the race.

Leadership Begins at Home,


What area of your life do you find it most difficult to stay motivated?

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