The Presidents Cup: Millennials At Their Best

Golf is an individual sport, but annually the best golfers in the world gather to play team competition.

Similar to playing doubles in tennis, team competition brings out the best (or worst) in you.

This year Team USA dismantled the International Team so badly at the Presidents Cup it was over before the last day of competition.

Strategy can be debated, but what was clear is this team dominated by Millennials showed what happens when personal strengths are unleashed.

Chemistry and connection trump competence.

The US team was heavily favored, but in the Ryder Cup (played alternate years from the Presidents Cup vs. Team Europe) the Yankees have struggled in a similar scenario. Talent provides a huge advantage, but without camaraderie you can get beat by lesser foes.

What’s evident in sports and business is Millennials thrive in teams. Whether a professional athlete or young professional, Millennials are better together.

Team USA has struggled for several years in team competition where their individual talent did not match their team unity. The difference this year was the off-the-course friendships were the foundation for victory.

Millennials take a beating from the media (mostly from other generations) and even if some of the criticism is justified, you should choose to focus on the positives.

Veterans can play the mentor role in any setting, but results not style, should be emphasized.

Age shouldn’t be a prerequisite for leadership roles.

This year’s US team led with enthusiasm, togetherness and execution.

In sports or business to maximize Millennials focus on creating a strong, team culture based on accountability then step back and let them go to work.

Why Coaching Trees Don’t Work

coach-k-phil-jackson

There’s a belief out there that leadership can be taught. Skills yes, but replicating no.

Take for instance two all-time basketball coaching greats: Phil Jackson & Mike Krzyzewski.

Both have disciples trained under them, yet given head coaching duties the success rate isn’t nearly as high. Why is that?

First of all, people can’t be scaled. You can have a mentor, but the goal of the mentee should never be to clone their model. Leadership is grounded in self-awareness so your style needs to be conducive to your personal strengths. You can’t be anything you want. You can only be the best version of you.

Second, there’s an art of leadership that is instinctual. Almost impossible to teach. Both Jackson and eventual Coach K successors have huge shoes to fill. Their replacements will be forever compared to their career success. Unfair as it is, each leader has to create their own legacy. Leaders are less focused on who came before them and more locked into where they want to go. As technology improves so does the sharpening of people skills. In sports the truly great coaches have a sound strategy, but what sets them apart is their ability to manage superstar egos. No book, online resource or manual can teach you that. You learn best through experience and since each individual is unique there’s no formula for optimal results.

Third, confidence in vision. Many would argue charisma, but that comes from a strong belief in self. The confidence in vision needs to be strong enough to take the team to a level even the leader hasn’t reached before. A leader’s vision should be bigger than themselves which further defends the idea of focusing on the future instead of looking back. Vision casting can be taught, but the size of the goal is directly tied to the confidence of the leader. Most successors aim to maintain past standards, but that’s peering in the rear view mirror. Beyond prior records, data and research, leaders must push on regardless of the struggle. That type of perseverance is a character trait developed over time.

Leadership development is real, but not as simple as following a set number of rules. Great coaches create a legacy that can’t be caught. Besides observing and having a deep appreciation for great leaders, it’s about identifying your greatest strengths and leveraging those on a daily basis for maximum results. Coaching trees don’t work because humans are too dynamic to be simplified down to a system. Train up leaders, but give them autonomy to spread their wings in the way they choose. That’s how a tree really blossoms.

 

How To Deal With Uncertainty

uncertainty

As a planner I prefer to be in control.

When I’m not it’s scary.

But when you think about, how much of your life are you really in control of?

You have the power of choice, but you can’t control the outcome. In fact you can drive yourself insane second-guessing what you should have done in retrospect.

The best advice (but probably the most uncomfortable) is to trust the process.

Easier said than done, but if you’ve done your research, taken multiple factors into account, pull the trigger and don’t look back.

Take for instance sports: when you make a play sometimes it works out in your favor and sometimes it doesn’t. If you feel uncertain in the moment, most likely the result won’t be favorable. On the other hand committing to a plan of action and living with the outcome gives you a sense of peace.

As a recovering control-freak myself, I realize the more I try to control the less I actually am.

Pair that with the fact my wife is very spontaneous and carefree and it can drive me to anxiety if I don’t take a step back.

As a coach I tell my clients to focus on creating good habits that are repeatable. Goals are good, but creating routines that lead towards your desired lifestyle are better.

Funny thing is sometimes I need to listen to my own advice.

If you’re unsure about an aspect in your life such as your career or a relationship, look at how you spend your time. Examine your priorities. Understand the way you process.

Uncertainty can be looked at in two ways: negatively or positively.

You can choose to be anxious or excited. The former will drive you crazy while the latter comes with anticipation.

For your mind and body’s sake (and health), choose the high road.

Trust me.

It works.

How The NBA Free Agency Mirrors Corporate America

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Professional athletes are in the prime of their career in their 20’s, but as they reach their 30’s priorities change. It’s no different with Millennials in the workplace except their best career years may be ahead of them.

During the NBA free agency period players without contracts have the opportunity to strike it rich with their current or new team through signing a multi-year deal. Most NBA players want 3 things:

1) To win now

2) Be the “man”

3) Max money

Assuming an athlete has been in the league for a couple of years and excelled, the bidding wars begin. As a fan I found myself making parallels towards Corporate America this summer. Take the 3 wishes of basketball players and they can be translated to young professionals:

1) To make a difference/impact (winning)

2) Be valued as an important contributor (the “man/woman”)

3) Make as much money as possible

What’s interesting is the shift in values over generations.

Millennials care more about lifestyle than paycheck.

Purpose in work is greater than titles.

Promotions only feel “real” when accompanied by personal growth.

This NBA free agency period marked the first time top players chose small markets (San Antonio & Milwaukee) over large ones (Los Angeles & New York). The playing field has been leveled and location no longer is an important criteria. It is if you care about nightlife, housing costs and distance from family, but otherwise it’s an afterthought. It’s a reason why growing startups can steal top talent from established corporations.

I’ve always believed that Millennials are Millennials no matter what they are doing. “Perks” are popular because they show employers care about their wants. Sometimes perks are used as a recruiting and retaining factor. Understanding what Millennials want in their career reveals how they can “fit” in your organization. My point is people are people no matter what they are doing. Generations share certain core values that resonate amongst them. Tap into those values and their pulse reveals what matters. Cater to the heart.

 

The Secret To Unleashing Your Productivity

Distractions

There are plenty of myths surrounding productivity, but most of them are false because they’re centered on being more focused or giving perks. Managers would love to find the magical whip they can use to micromanage workers, but that stuff doesn’t work in the post-industrial days. Productivity is getting in a “flow” similar to when an athlete gets in the “zone.” It’s not as simple as snapping your fingers and you’re there. Instead it’s about controlling your surroundings and tuning out the noise that distracts us in a technologically driven world.

Rationally thinking becoming hyper-focused is the key, but it’s not. It’s like when you’re having a hard time falling asleep, the more you try the worse it gets. Actually when you “turn off your brain” is when you naturally dose off. I found as working as a Millennial Coach, the key lies with removing distractions. This can be as simple as venting to someone else. Imagine entering a room frustrated, then leaving refreshed. Work isn’t even discussed, but you feel ready to conquer the world walking out. Companies such as Zappos and Google are forward-thinking enough to provide the optimal environments to enhance productivity. Back to the analogy of the micromanaging boss, in order to unleash your optimal performance trust must be given freely. It is not without consequences, but a person should be innocent until proven guilty, not the other way around. Leaders empower productivity, they don’t control it.

The next time you’re watching a sporting event, watch how athletes prepare before the game. Most have headphones on and are listening to their favorite music. Why? Besides possibly being sponsored to wear a certain brand, it’s a pre-ritual to help calm their mind and body. The term corporate wellness gets thrown around a lot these days, but essentially its function is to counter the daily stress with an outlet of release or relaxation. Most people wake up, grab coffee and stumble into work wondering why they’re not in the mood to produce at a high level. You may not be able to listen to music by yourself during work, but you can go for a morning workout, eat a healthy breakfast or listen to music that calms or motivates you in the car during your commute.

Lastly, I can’t emphasize how crucial to your success coping is. That means being able to deal with curveballs thrown at you frequently. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. Re-framing situations from negative to positive is merely turning that frown upside down. Your mind has the ability to pause in situations that don’t feel right and choose to focus on something else. For example, if you’re given a new assignment that has a hard deadline soon instead of complaining about it, stop, re-prioritize and drop what you’re currently doing to work on what’s more urgent. A split second is all it takes to catch yourself from going down a hole of despair to re-framing to what’s more positive.

So the next time you’re having a problem getting focused, think about your environment. Experiment with what’s conducive to your optimal performance and tinker with it constantly like a game. There are some factors, like meetings or an annoying co-worker, that you can’t control, but you’d be surprised to know a lot of your performance has to do with what you decide to tune out.

Why Coaching Doesn’t Work

coach's whistle

I’ve been coaching for the past 8 years as an entrepreneur, but much longer in basketball and life. It’s a skill set you can learn, but similar to leadership there are some who have an innate ability to thrive in it and a “higher ceiling” in terms of execution. As a customer there are more reasons than not to avoid coaching, which makes it hard to “sell.” Here are just a handful:

“What is coaching?”

“How does it work?”

“How much is it?”

“What results will I get?”

“HR and management already provides that at work.”

The list goes on and on, so instead of trying to convince you why coaching works, I prefer to share my experience of hiring a coach. I worked with a coach for 18 months. We met bi-monthly and talked about professional and personal issues. I loved how he would ask me questions that were based on my agenda, set goals to accomplish before the next session and go at my pace. It felt much more like hiring a personal trainer to strengthen my mind than anything close to therapy or psychology. I liked it so much I picked my coach’s brain on how to become one and after going back to school for a M.A. in Organizational Leadership, here I am.

Now the toughest part is selling it. Coaching is a process, it provides solutions to the “how” questions. Problem is customers are focused on the results. Confidence and career advice is what my clients get from working with me. Another issue is paying for individual sessions. Going back to my personal trainer analogy, you wouldn’t hire a trainer and expect results overnight, so you can’t do the same with a coach. Sessions don’t work, programs do. P90X and Insanity sell fitness, but they’re packaged as a program. That’s exactly how you need to buy coaching. For example, my Career Bootcamp is 30 days of coaching which includes: (4) 60 minute sessions + unlimited weekday email support. If you take full advantage of this offer, you can have up to 26 “touch points” in a month’s time. Now that’s value! You get a defined outcome in specific time frame. Much easier to buy.

It’s not that coaching doesn’t work, it does. But the challenge is how it’s “packaged.” These days anyone can call themselves a coach, I get that. So if you’re in the market to hire one, contact a coach and ask them questions. Your decision to hire one should be based on chemistry (do you “fit” with them?) and confidence (can they get me to where I want to be?). Coaching is an investment in personal & professional development. Athletes hire coaches to increase performance, so should you!

Winsight Episode 49: The Need For Change

Time-For-Change

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We tend to be creatures of habit. It’s easier to stick to routines, but change is a good thing.

In this episode about “change” we’ll dive into the following examples:

Who is your favorite sports team? How fluid are they in recruiting for the future? 

A sense of urgency is the first step in change. How well do you embrace change?

In your own life what have you tried new and failed at? What’s worse: trying and failing or living with regret?

One motivation for change is pushing yourself to grow. Be willing to be “uncomfortable” in order to become better.

So how do you embrace change? What’s holding you back? What’s the cost of not changing?

Winsight Episode 48: Job Search – Position vs. Culture

fortune 100 best companies

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When it comes to your next job search what are you looking for: the ideal position or dream company to work with?

Ideal job seems like the obvious choice, but what if you got your dream job, but the environment was toxic?

In this episode, here are some of the highlights:

  • Jeremy Lin chose money over fit since leaving the New York Knicks and it’s been a roller coaster since
  • The Top 100 Companies to work for feature perks such as: flexibility, food, transportation even life coaches…is that enough to sway you?
  • But what do you want? The choice usually is between time vs. money
  • It’s about identifying your priorities and making a decision from there

So what matters to you? Do you want your dream job or ideal company? Don’t compare, just pick based on values and go from there!