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3 Thoughts on Life and Careers December 27, 2010

Posted by David Dirks in Achieving goals.
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Last May of 2010, I was honored with the privilege to give a keynote speech at a local community college.  Not wanting to be long winded but still aiming to have an impact on these young graduates, I thought long and hard for the right message.  I ended up focusing on three points that have made a huge difference in my life both personally and professionally.  As we close another year, I thought I’d share these with you.  Here are the three thoughts I had shared in my keynote:

1.  Never stop learning. In 1980, with the advice and encouragement of one of my business professors here on campus, I paid for and attended my very first professional seminar in NYC.  There I was, in the big Apple, a 19-year-old sitting in a workshop on communication skills with people who were already well into their careers.  It was a great experience for a budding business student like myself and it established the foundation of my communications skills that I would use for years to come.  It marked the beginning of literally hundreds of workshops and seminars I would take after that.  A passion for lifelong learning will serve you well, especially in your careers.

2. What the mind can conceive, man can achieve. That phrase is from Earl Nightingale’s “The Strangest Secret”,  which we studied here in one of my business classes.  It was here 30 years ago, that I learned the fundamental truth that if you can see yourself accomplishing a goal in life, you can achieve it.  What your mind can conceive, you can achieve.

The only person who can stop you from achieving your goals in life is you.  Consider your academic achievement here today as a stepping stone for greater achievement tomorrow.

3.  Be able to communicate your ideas clearly and with passion. I’m often asked what skill has helped me the most in my career and my answer is always the same:  communication skills.  It doesn’t matter what field you find yourself pursuing, if you can communicate in a dynamic, clear, and passionate way, you will differentiate yourself from your peers.  Take every opportunity that comes your way to give a presentation or speech and do it.  Practice does make perfect.

Winning by letting others win December 21, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, Dealing With Competitors, Fixing performance problems, Power.
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The Big Dogz know that winning is not always getting your way. Sometimes it pays to get the ideas or agendas of others implemented rather than your own. Here are some tips to help you be more effective as a solution leader in your organization:


  • Try meeting with key people before the problem solving session to get some idea of their thoughts. Spend time with them to help them build their case for presentation in the meeting.


  • Be alert for signs of resistance during solution discussion. Tone and non-verbal signals are important. When you see resistance, try to bring it out in the open where you can deal with it. An effective way to get the resistance out in the open is to ask a closed ended question with your assumption. For example, “Are you concerned about the cost of this solution?” They will answer yes or no. If yes, you got it out in the open. If no, follow up with “What is your concern?”


  • Analyze the cost of getting your way. Does your solution help your personal goals versus the goals of the organization? Are you acquiring a reputation as a person who has to win every situation, no mater the importance to you? If the issue is not that important to you, let others take the lead.



  • Ask others, like your manager or a trusted colleague, to provide you feedback on your actions in problem solving sessions. Are you monopolizing the conversation or pushing your agenda? Look to get feedback that you are cooperating and getting others involved.


  • Before you go into a problem solving session, take time to discover the needs and goals of others at the meeting. You will be able to get more support for your idea if you link it to others’ needs. Sometimes the needs of others’ outweigh you personal needs. Keep your options open.



  • While you are presenting your idea, identify areas where you are willing to compromise. This will encourage others to fill in the details of your solution that they support. Ask others what are the no compromise issues about their solutions. Accept these points and offer compromise in other areas if you can.


  • Find a role model. Look for someone who does an effective job of driving solutions and getting everyone to participate. Observe them and experiment with what they do.


The Big Dogz know that winning does not always mean g4tting your way. There are others in the organization who have good ideas. Be the one who gets others to contribute. You will win in the long run.


Exercising control November 14, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, Getting what you want, Management, Performance issues, Self reflection.
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p5130012.jpg  It is difficult to be in charge. There are responsibilities and pressures to control. The Big Dogz know that if we push the control lever too far we become Domineering and the result is reduced productivity, increased costs and more stress. On the other hand, if we do not control what is going on, we will often fail to accomplish our goals.


I propose we look at two ends of the control continuum — Domineering and Dominant.  These words mean different things to different people, so I want to make this distinction for this discussion:


Domineering means pushing your personal agenda and wanting to control every action of others.


Dominant means exercising influence or control, usually through leadership.


Domineering managers rarely succeed. Of course, there are exceptions to this statement, but in general, if you use a Domineering style, you will always achieve less. What are some of the signs that you may be a Domineering manager?


  1. You are working excessive hours.
  2. You personally do the most critical jobs.
  3. You have frequent stressful conflicts (outbursts) during the day.
  4. You use micro-management as a way to make sure things get done.
  5. Morale in your group is low.
  6. You believe your people are “not up to the challenge.”
  7. You have to make all the decisions.


You get the picture. There are many things going wrong. There are only a few people you can count on to help you achieve your goals.


Dominant managers rarely fail! Again, there are exceptions to this statement, but in general, if you use a Dominant style, you will always achieve more. Besides the opposite of the Domineering manager signs, what are some other signs you may be a Dominant manager?


  1. People give you feedback on your performance as the manager.
  2. Your people are getting awards, recognition and promotions.
  3. People in your department are proactive in solving problems.
  4. People make suggestions to you on how the department can be more efficient or effective.
  5. Your people know exactly what result you expect of them.
  6. People are exercising creativity in developing processes that are streamlined.
  7. There is a waiting list of people wanting to join your department.


You get the picture. There are many things going right. There are many people you can count on to help you achieve your goals.


The signs are clear. The choice is yours.


Sometimes we do not achieve the results we want and we find someone or something to excuse it away. The problem may be in your style. I have created an assessment to help you determine if you are more Domineering or more Dominant. Please download it and take it yourself, then get three people to validate your self-assessment.


When you have a validated assessment, use it to create an action plan on how you can be more effective as a manager. If you send me your action plan, I will include your actions into a future blog on how to become a more Dominant manager.





Free resources!! October 17, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, business strategy, Changing behavior, Coaching, Increasing Your Profitability, Management, Performance issues.
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Thought that might get your attention! The Big Dogz know how to get additional resources for free. They do it by focusing on the resources they already have. Most people in the workplace are doing the best they can. They are giving you their concentration and commitment to producing at a high level. Sometimes it is the work that gets in the way of the work getting done. Here is how to get more for less in your team.


Convene a meeting with your team members and tell them you want them to answer two questions for you.


  1. What can we do to be more efficient?
  2. What can we do to be more effective?


Notice that the question is “What can we do..”, not “What can be done…”. This is an important distinction. The Big Dogz know that if you ask the latter, you will get suggestions on what others could do. The focus is on us, and what is in our control.


Let me define efficient and effective. I borrow the distinction from Tom Peters in his book, In Search of Excellence.


Efficient — doing things right

Effective — doing the right things


So you ask your people to focus on those two questions and then you leave the meeting. Tell them you will return in 45 minutes to review their suggestions. I can hear some of you saying, “Yeah, right, they will have nothing to say!’ Well, you are probably right. The first time you ask them to do this activity; they will usually produce nothing. They provided suggestions in the past. And, they have been ignored! It is no wonder that they will be reluctant to give you ideas.


Thank them for their time and concentration. Schedule another meeting within 30 days to address the same two questions. This will get them to thinking you are serious about being more efficient and effective. Keep having the meetings until they actually come up with a suggestion. Now do your secret management stuff and get that thing done! If you don’t, you can save time by not having these meetings once a month!


The people who know how to be more efficient and more effective are the people who do the work. Too often managers come up with brainstorm ideas of their own on how the department can be more efficient or effective. Most of the time these ideas could work. People like to have their own ideas. They are more likely to implement a suggestion they came up with rather than one you came up with.


The Big Dogz know that patience pays off. Keep asking your people how to do more with less and they will respond. If you have five people and they improve productivity by 20%, you have gotten another full person for free!


So, now in the next 30 days, you schedule a productivity improvement meeting with your folks. Send me an email at rbronder@gmail.com.  I want to know how it works for you.



Get what you want April 4, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Getting what you want, Keeping Organized, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  How would you like to get what you want? The Big Dogz know how to do that. They use a three step model to get what they want.


If you look at successful people, you can see some common characteristics like passion, vision, persistence, courage and preparation. Regardless of the characteristics you acquire or even demonstrate; there are three steps that you must follow if you want to get what you want.


1. Have a plan

Clearly articulating what you want and how to get it is the key step. Whenever I get the opportunity to speak in front of a group, I always ask them “Who knows what they want out of life?’ Almost every hand goes up. “How many of you know how to get that?” generally results in all the hands dropping. If you don’t know how to get what you want, talk with people who have already gotten it! Do what they did.


The more clearly you can define want you want, the more likely you are to get it. Use all your senses to visualize it. What will it look like? How will I feel when I get it? How will it sound when people tell me about it? Next identify what steps are necessary to get what you want.


2. Write it down

Keeping your plan in your head is a surefire way to lose focus. By documenting your plan, you reinforce the acquiring of your goals through the physical act of writing. Using a keyboard is almost as effective, but not as powerful. Doing both seems to add to the probability of achieving your goals.


The more detailed your plan and action scenarios, the more powerful they become. Be specific in what you will do, when you will do it and how it will benefit you. Review this document with a trusted advisor. Get and incorporate suggestions on how to get what you want.


3. Review your plan at least quarterly

Hold a quarterly status meeting where you review what you have accomplished. Check your goals to make sure you still want them. Modify action plans to direct your energy towards your goals. Here are three questions you might want to ask yourself at these status meetings:


  • What have I accomplished since my last status update?
  • What do I plan on accomplishing before the next status update?
  • What challenges am I facing and what am I doing about them?


If you are not making sufficient progress, set up more frequent reviews. After each review, rewrite your goals and action plans to reinforce your commitment to achieving them. Either physically write them or keyboard them into a computer. Using Copy and Paste is not effective!


This sounds like a lot of work. It is! The Big Dogz know that if they follow these three steps they can have anything they want.


Over the next 30 days, start to put together your goals and written plans. Set up a status meeting for 30 days and hold yourself accountable.


Your Personal Board of Directors March 20, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Board of Directors, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Want more brainpower? The Big Dogz know how to get more brainpower; they assemble a group of bright people to advise them. Woodrow Wilson was a Big Dog who said: 

“I not only use all the brains I have, but I all I can borrow” 

Here is how you do it: 

  1. Identify areas of your life that you feel you could use some help. For example, financial decisions, merger or acquit ion opportunities, promoting yourself, salary decisions, using technology — well, you get the drift.


  1. Identify people you know who are subject matter experts in that area.


  1. Ask them if they will mentor you in that subject. You will be surprised how many people are flattered by your request and would be willing to help you for free!


  1. Repeat this process until you have created your own “Board of Directors” who will provide you with guidance and suggestions in any area that you need.

 The Big Dogz know the really good news. You don’t need actual people to do this. You can tap into the wisdom of the ages and you can tap into the minds of the most successful people that have ever lived. Here how you do it: 

  1. Identify the person you want to have on your “Board of Directors”. Be daring. Pick the best of the best.


  1. Of course, your pick will be famous and lots of people have studied and written about this person. This is even true of contemporary high achievers. Read all you can about this person.  Check out the biography, the autobiography and the stories about them. Learn all you can.


  1. Now when you need advice, tap into the mental store house of knowledge you have accumulated. I have a friend who uses visualization for this process. He goes to a quiet place and relaxes. He closes his eyes and “sees” the other person sitting across from him. Then, he has a conversation; asking questions and visualizing the responses.

 The Big Dogz have a “Board of Directors” made up of both real people and virtual people to go to for advice and counsel. Putting together your personal “Board of Directors” begins with you identifying the areas where you might need help. Next, start identifying the sources for your board.  

You will on your way to increasing the brainpower you can bring to any situation.

Achieving your goals November 15, 2007

Posted by rickbron in Achieving goals, Bronder On People, Bronder on Vision, Uncategorized.
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p5130012.jpg  Get what you want! The Big Dogz know how to get what they want. They set goals and achieve those goals at a much higher rate than others. How do they do it? Well, there are many models for setting and achieving goals, but most of them follow a basic set of steps to identify and accomplish goals. Here are those steps: 

1. Make sure your goals are really your goals.

Focus on those goals that you want to achieve. Just because someone else is success at starting a new business does not mean that is the right goal for you. Many times we listen to our managers or co-workers and focus in on doing what they say is a good goal. The Big Dogz know this strategy can only lead to defeat. 

2. Base your goals on principles that are important to you.

What are your values? What do you think makes a good person? What is important to you? These are some of the questions you might ask when determining your goals. If you feel that helping people is a virtue, then a goal around the concept of helping others would be a good fit for you. Begin your goal setting by identifying key (5-6) principles that you believe should guide your life. This process takes time and may need adjusting after you begin to execute your goals.  

3. Set goals that you believe are possible for you.

It is just as frustrating to set goals that are too easy as it to set goals that are too difficult. This is not to say that you should not stretch yourself. The Big Dogz do this by thinking about what they can do, and then adding a little bit more. Goals that are challenging are exciting and achieving those goals is very rewarding. 

4. Develop a metric to measure your progress.

A goal without a metric is a wish! A metric is quantative and date related. Having a goal to become rich is not an energizing goal. The definition of rich is relative and when will you become rich is also relative. Try quantifying the goal;  I will have a $10 million net worth in 5 years is a much stronger goal.  

5. Document your goals.

Physically writing your goals reinforces the commitment to those goals. Yes, I have goals and they are in my head is a common response. The Big Dogz know that the more you write your goals, the stronger the commitment you have to achieving them. Some successful people actually write their goals on index cards and carry those cards around with them.  

6. Share your goals with people you respect.

Sharing your goals with others can be a very productive way to motivate yourself. A word of caution for the selection process; select only those people you respect and who return the respect for your goals. Beware of the “dream thieves” who will tell you that your goals are not attainable. Using others to discuss your goals is an effective way to get goal adjustment and to even get some specific tips on how to accomplish your goal. An excellent person to share your goals with is someone who has already accomplished what you want to accomplish. 

7. Develop objectives and action plans to accomplish your goals.

For each of your goals, break it down into manageable pieces complete with specific actions that must be done. Make sure the objectives also have metrics. The Big Dogz know that by breaking goals into objectives and objectives into action plans, the goal accomplishment process becomes more fluid and the success rate is much higher. For each objective you set, establish a personal reward for achieving that objective. 

8. Set up regular status meetings on your goals.

Use your calendar to set these meetings. Allow sufficient time for you to review your progress. Hold yourself accountable for progress. The Big Dogz are more ruthless with themselves than with others. Document your status in a written report. Use a format similar to most project status meetings:What have I accomplished?What problems am I experiencing and what am I doing to overcome them?What do I plan to accomplish before my next status meeting? 

9. Re-evaluate your goals based upon your progress.

Your first action after your status meeting is to reward yourself for your accomplishments. Next, look at your progress relative to your metrics. If you are over achieving, then set your goal higher. If you are struggling, look at what you need to do to recover or perhaps you need to adjust your goal. Having unrealistic or unachievable goals is de-motivating and can spiral into defeat. The Big Dogz are constantly assessing their goals and when you do that, you will get a much better sense of your capabilities and will get more attainable goals. Now is the time to re-write your goals to reinforce your commitment to achieving them. 

The above steps define a basic roadmap to setting goals. You may want to customize the goal setting process for yourself. If you are like most people, you are missing some of these steps in setting and reaching your goals. If you are one of the Big Dogz, you are going “Yeah, yeah, I do that!”