Comment on Why Many CEOs Can’t Build Legacies Anymore

October 10, 2012

Why Many CEOs Can’t Build Legacies Anymore
by Thomas J. Saporito | 11:00 AM August 9, 2012

My friend JoAnne O’Brien-Levin reviewed this article and gave me her view as follows:

As I read this, I saw what the writer describes as emblematic of the larger sea change that has been pervading business culture for a long time now. In each of the three examples they give, it’s relationships that are being replaced by impersonal transactions. First, it’s the CEO’s relationship with the company that goes away: He/she is brought in from the outside; he/she can’t build a legacy. Then it’s the senior team that no longer bonds with one another.

This seems on the surface to be more efficient, a better response to the speed of change and demands of market/shareholders, but I wonder if it is truly functional, let alone sustainable? If relationships don’t matter at the top, then they won’t matter at the bottom–with customers, suppliers, etc.

At the same time this is happening, there seems to be an increasing realization that relationships are core to the way the Universe functions; they’re fundamental to its nature.

“Collaboration is essential to survival; collaboration is dependent upon relationships. So is this trend actually running in opposition to the way the world/Universe works? If so, what’s to be done?” – JoAnne O’Brien-Levin

I agree with JoAnne and like to follow-up:

In my view to your questions, it is more a matter of ability to react and move. I have seen that the larger companies get so lethargic that they can’t move, they are so stuck in their old industrial-age paradigms and have an entitlement culture, that the sea-change is visible to them but they don’t know what to do with it. At one of our large clients I see that they feel they should be treated in some way because they are big. That does not work for the employees and they leave.

Turnover is increasing. More than 50% of the employees are over 40 years old and the new hires don’t stay. When the economy recovers they run away even faster because the culture is toxic and old fashioned.

I think we are at the beginning of the automobile age in business when a lot of the biggest players are still working in the horse-buggy paradigm. Critical mass hasn’t been reached, many of the roads and highways haven’t been built yet, and the technology and relationship development practices still have a lot of innovation ahead of themselves.

Still, if I had to choose, I rather improve automobiles than preserve horse buggies.

Axel Meierhoefer


Why Your Business Will Need a Mobile Management System

July 31, 2012

Mobile technology has advanced leaps and bounds over the last decade; smartphones are being grasped tightly and apps downloaded constantly. Mobile phones have become a lot more than just telephones, to the point where companies are now portable and able to work on the go with the use of 3GS connectivity. This is known as mobilizing a workforce, and although it is not always applicable to all industries, it is on the rise, within many trade services in particular.

Taking a look at the electrical trade for example will show you how stringently controlled the sector is, with customers expecting high level performance in a timely fashion. This means businesses have to report accurately on any work carried out, so efficiency can be monitored and business can be progressive. One key element of the effective mobile workforce is the emergence of digital signature capture and photographic evidence to ensure work is of the highest standard.

By mobilizing your workforce you are able to remotely manage your team and document the work with thorough reports that are accessible from anywhere.

Engineers of many fields can benefit from mobile technologies, to be able to compete with the tough competition often found in the industry. Management can monitor employees’ use of the mobile workforce software and take action on mistakes made when inputting data. Job scheduling is made easier and more reliable, ensuring both the employees and customers are kept happy.

Corporate environmental awareness is becoming a key topic circulating across many media forms, so companies are being pressured into a greater awareness of their waste. Mobile waste management is in place to reduce carbon emissions and increase staff efficiency, which in turn saves the business money.

Your workforce on the frontline are not the only ones who benefit from mobile technology; it is the internal departments such as the accountants, human resources and office management that also benefit too. All of these key players in your business also benefit by allowing staff to take the office with them. Mobile applications allow bosses to manage their teams, ensuring each team member’s accountability.
Paper-based work becomes streamlined, meaning efficient and environmentally-friendly business all-round.

Nobody can doubt that mobile technology is the future, and we all know that companies that evolve with technology survive through tough times. Stay in touch with mobile technology and benefit from its many possibilities.

Tom Clark writes on a variety of topics including mobile workforce management – http://www.gomobilize.co.uk/.


How to Buy and Save Time

July 25, 2012

A few years back I was involved in a study conducted by the RAND Corporation.  Among a lot of other things they wanted to know was the simple question: “How do you avoid getting overwhelmed when many projects and demands occur all at the same time?”

As I had said then and keep saying these days whenever a client or organization seems overwhelmed: ‘Gain or Buy yourself a Week’. You might reply: “That’s easier said then done”!

Not really. As soon as work and demands increase, you will find that there are things you really don’t like to do. Not only do these things distract from what you are really interested in, they also take time away from the tasks, and things you are really good and efficient at.

For most people, the work week is calculated at 40 hours, even though many of us actually spend more time then that at work.  On the other hand we have more and more flexible work schedules to accommodate an aging work force and the demands of work and family life balance.

You can take advantage of this flexibility and Buy yourself a Week. Think of it this way. You can easily find individuals with the skill you need. They are good at filing, paperwork, administrative work, making calls, helping with the mail, and on and on and on. In most areas you can find individuals who are thankful for $10 – $12 per hour, if the schedule is flexible. To gain a week per month for yourself, you are only looking at 10-12 hours per week in support.

Adding it all up, you pay $400 – $500 a month (4 weeks x 10-12 hours x $10 per hour). Think about how much more effective you will be if you don’t have to do the things you aren’t good at. Can you make $400 – $500 in 40 extra hours a week doing what you’re good at? If the answer is yes, then by all means, Buy yourself a Week and do what you are good at, while enjoying the help of someone who likes to do what you dread doing. If nothing else, you can Buy yourself a Week of vacation for about $450. That’s a steal…

Try it, you will be amazed how nice it is to know that stuff that normally piles up and makes you inefficient can get done without pain. This would be one way to make it easier and keep yourself, your boss, manager, or leader happy at the same time.

Dr. Axel Meierhoefer


Having a Mentor

July 24, 2012

A mentor is defined as:
A wise and trusted counselor or teacher. An influential senior sponsor or supporter.

It’s very useful to have a mentor as you are engaged in your journey and at all points of choice along the way.

Mentors shortcut your learning curve and save you precious time and money. They can also keep you from riding the trains that won’t take you where you want to go!

Think of it this way:

M= Mastery
E= Experience & Excellence
N=Network
T=Trust
O=Opportunities
R=Relax & Realize

Want to start a mentoring program in your organization or improve on the one you already have in place? Then , consider our Mentoring as a Leadership Skill course. We will teach your leaders how to be a highly effective mentor, adding value to your organization, creating a culture of  growth and support while increasing your bottom line.

Dr. Axel Meierhoefer


How to Avoid the Loneliness Hole

July 23, 2012

Have you ever attended an event, participated in a class or course, bought yourself a guided home-study program and caught yourself not really achieving what you had hoped it would do for you? We have several times.

One nice part of attending is the enjoyment of the new people participants get to encounter, the atmosphere focusing on the topic at hand for a few days. In case of regular classes or calls, we learned these scheduled events bring the mind back to a topic on a regular basis, although its’ harder to be in the subject over the phone than being in tune when being physically present.

Regardless if the event has the purpose to sell something or really the goal to teach something new, it is almost always the start of a change process, not the end. It requires us to make a commitment to ourselves to use the positive vibe and energy we have when we leave and part ways with the group of like-minded people. During the drive or flight home we still feel this momentum and drive to move forward.

Some of us actually take action the next day trying to keep the flow going. Many have concentrated so hard on the topic for several days that they feel exhausted when they return into the known environment. It’s almost like a muscle ache after a marathon. So what do we do?

We take a break from the topic or subject. We might call it reflection, but for the most part, it is taking a break, relaxing our mind, as well as our body. A few days later, when we find the binders, books, brochures, CD’s, DVD’s, and receipts from our trip, we are reminded that we actually had made a promise to ourselves. We wanted to take action and apply the great system we had heard and learned about.

This is when the Loneliness-Hole is opening up. While we were at the event, all the other folks we had gotten to know were with us. They had good ideas, they told us what they would do when they came home, they provided energy and momentum to us – where had they gone?
Often we try for some time to get going, but suddenly all the stuff we have and learned looks more like a mountain we need to climb. All the ideas we had are now countered with arguments why they might not work – and the energy we felt seems to have vanished.

Otto Scharmer talks about the power of Sensing. It is part of his theory. In a nutshell it looks and describes the process we go through when we calm down, focus on a topic or object, explore all its facets and aspects, and begin to understand its place, its function and how it fits into the bigger whole of the environment. Many scientists call this environment “The Field”.

What happens in the field is what will help anybody to get out of the Loneliness-Hole or avoid falling into the Loneliness-Hole in the first place. It requires the energizing of the heart to trigger a feeling. Like described at the beginning, we know how it feels to by in synch with a group of like minded people. We know how awesome it is to know that there is help, understanding, energy to spare, focus.

What we also find is that things seem to slow down. We can shed all the other things that seem to occupy our minds and our time normally. We can explore the details, and we can open up. This feeling is actually happening when we transition from thinking and sensing with our brain towards thinking and sensing with our heart.

We begin to resonate with the people around us. We see ourselves both as observers of the system as well as participants in it. We have all these ideas flowing out of us and the folks around us that seem unique, great, and helpful. We can really see and feel that the team/group and its innovations is greater than the sum of its parts. The experience is factual and emotional all at the same time.

That feeling is what we are missing when we fall into the Loneliness-Hole.

What can we do about it? You want to actually not only commit to steps, actions and change to yourself, but also to a group of people at the event or meeting, before it is over. Rather than trying to absorb the whole system, all the new ideas and opportunities, and execute them yourself, make a commitment to set up a regular event with a group of 5-7 people. This is similar to a master-mind group.

The best thing would be to have a facilitator who actually knows what the concept, content or area of interest of the event or meeting was. That way such a facilitator or coach can help you find your way back to the energy and emotions that gave you so much drive and readiness for action. We are actually working on introducing these kinds of group-coaching and facilitation groups as a services because the energy and creativity that comes out of them is very amazing.

If you don’t have anybody who can act as a facilitator or group coach, you want to establish a rotation in your group so that one person takes the lead for one month at a time facilitating the conference calls. Yes, you can do this over the phone or Skype/Internet messenger. You don’t have to be in the same place. The most important thing for such a group to be successful is to be able to bring the memories, feelings, goals and thoughts form the original event back into your mind and your heart.

If you practice this process, you will learn that you can begin to channel the field energy towards other things as well. One member of the group might go through and illness, a family member might have an accident and needs support to recover, someone might have to take a test or pass an exam. All these tings can benefit from the positive energy of thoughts that each group member can send to the affected person.

Learning how to find the energy, renew the emotions and good feelings, activate the field or keep it energized outside of the meetings and calls, is easier with a facilitator or a coach, but you can also do it yourself. Most importantly, setup the group and make the commitment while you are at the event, still in the training facility, during a project definition retreat, etc.

If you follow this process and make the commitment to the group, you will avoid ever again falling into the Loneliness-Hole.

That by itself is already a great improvement over most cases. The other great benefit of this process is the fact that you will actually get the full benefit of the event you attended and possibly spend considerable money on. And you will keep learning from the members of your group, bounce of some of your ideas, find solutions for things that didn’t work when you tried them, and most importantly, celebrate all the small and big wins you will encounter when you take action based on what you learned.

Dr. Axel Meierhoefer


Performance = the Doing of Something

July 23, 2012

When we have some time to take a breath, read a newspaper, watch a TV show, and relax, we find a continuation of what is common in the work place. A lot of what is presented and written about is describing how well – or not so well – others did, organizations did, sports teams did, – in a nutshell, how well they performed.

Every walk of life seems to be inundated with competition. We feel we constantly have to compete with others, show that we are worthy and that we deserve to advance based on our performance.

As you have seen in many articles and writings, I call myself a Performance Coach. When we say our motto is: Helping other succeed “, or Helping other help themselves achieve their goals and dreams “, we actually want to help them to improve their performance.

On first glace that seems to be pretty obvious and easy to understand. When we look into the meaning of the word performance, we can learn a number of things, but also get a little more confused. Here are some samples:

Kernerman`s English Multilingual Dictionary says performance = the doing of something.

Fair enough. We probably can all agree with that. The question is: what is the something and how well is it done?

The Encyclopedia Britannica looks at the legal aspects and offers this explanation:

Performance in law, is the act of doing that which is required by a contract. The effect of successful performance is to discharge the person bound to do the act from any future contractual liability. Each party to the contract is bound to perform promises according to the stipulated terms.

I guess that means: If you do what you promised in a contract, you performed as expected and are entitled to the compensation that was promised to you. Wouldn`t it be nice if things were that simple? You tell your boss what you are willing to do, and when you do it, you are good to go? In most cases that won`t work, because we all have come to understand that what was originally promised is seen as the minimum requirement and sets the basic expectation.

The first lesson to learn from is this: Don`t over-promise, so the foundation of the expectation regarding your performance isn`t too high. Then, over-deliver and surprise those who need to compensate you.

A word of caution: You want to find realistic values when applying this lesson. If you play low-ball and then blow everybody away by your final delivery, you run the risk of loosing trust. Give realistic figures, set realistic expectations, and then try everything you can to best them; that is the approach that will help you in the long run.

Back to the definitions: Webster`s Dictionary gives us these choices for the term:
Performance =
•    the execution of an action
•    something accomplished
•    the fulfillment of a claim, promise, or request
•    the action of representing a character in a play
•    a public presentation or exhibition  (a benefit performance)
•    the ability to perform
•    the linguistic behavior of an individual
With all these version of performance in mind, we want to see if it always has to be competition. I say = NO!

What we want to achieve is a way to act and do things in our way. That is the way we want to be known for, the way we are proud of, the way we acknowledge for ourselves, the honest way we are and we act. Remember the saying: “How you do something is how you do everything!”

Our performance should always be the best we can do. That requires to give our actions some thought ” and don`t forget, what we say is an action too, so give that some thought as well.

The recent tendency to turn everything into a competition makes life and work appear as if someone has to loose for someone else to win, and naturally, the winner is always seen as the better performer.

In some cases when that argument of someone or something being better doesn’t necessarily apply, other reasons for awarding a winner to a competition are thought. You might recall the recent award of a huge contract by the US Air Force to the American company Northrop-Grumman. They have created a new tanker airplane for the military that won in 4 out of 5 critical performance areas. In addition it has the shorter take off distance with the same take off weight, meaning it can take off from shorter runways all around the world.
When our troops are involved in battle, they don`t always have the luxury of perfectly prepared airfields with never ending runways, so this point has global importance. Still, Boeing tried to make the argument that they should win the contract anyway, because some of the parts and work is going to be done by a company outside the United States, namely Airbus.

What does that mean for our initial question? Well, performance is not a matter of who wins the competition (assuming there even is one), but a matter of integrity. You don`t just want to perform to you highest level when others are watching (or judging, like about the tanker plane), but always. You want to be able to provide your best effort all the time, or the best of your team, and the best of your company.
Yes, you may not always win, but that is because others try their hardest too, and every once in a while their best is a little better than yours. Rather than finding reasons outside yourself, you want to look at what can be learned, and do better the next time around.

If you live and work in an environment where you can motivate others and yourself to always bring the best possible performance to the table, you will win the vast majority of situations. The effort and the integrity with which you perform it actually counts much more than the fact that you are the last one standing at the end of a competition.

Bottom line; performance is not always a competition, but it should always be a sign of your best effort, brought with honesty, integrity, and pried to those that ask for it. If you set your values and your attitude in this way, you will become very successful, and everybody around you will love and respect you.

Try it, – you will see how good it feels!

Axel Meierhoefer


The Puke Effect Redux

July 19, 2012

Today I like to educate you about a phenomenon most of us have experienced before. I became aware of the description through an investment newsletter I received. I first published this on July 14, 2008 in Ezine Articles but it still has relevance today.

In it Jeff Clark describes it. It’s called the Puke Effect. Don’t be mistaken. It doesn’t only apply to investing. It applies to many things and in some cases has become a behavior. Look at your team meetings:

Have you put meetings on your schedule that you feel are totally redundant or unnecessary, and only waste your time? Ask yourself how many of these meetings just get created because one person wants to impress another person in the hierarchy.

How often do you think it happens because nobody wanted to make a clear decision, so it was elected to have another meeting about a subject?

Here is how Jeff describes the Puke Effect:

“The cruise was going along just fine.”
Captain Bill was describing the worst sailing trip he had ever chartered. “We were about halfway to the island when one of the passengers started to get sick…”He didn’t quite make it all the way to the railing and he threw up on a bunch of the passengers who were sitting right there on the starboard side of the boat.”

Captain Bill then went on to describe how the passengers who had been puked upon started vomiting as well. Some of them managed to vomit over the side of the boat. But they were throwing up into the wind, and a good portion of “breakfast shrapnel” blew back into the boat, soaking the clothes, hair, and faces of anyone standing nearby.

“Pretty soon,” Bill continued, “everyone was puking. The stench was so bad, even my crew members were blowing chow.”

I first heard this story about 15 years ago, when I was learning to sail. I now recall it at the end of just about every quarter. On Wall Street, they call it “portfolio window dressing.” I call it the puke effect.
At the end of every quarter, portfolio managers dress up their accounts by purging stocks that haven’t performed well. After all, who wants to show shareholders they’ve been hanging on to the worst-performing stocks in the market?

So, one by one, the portfolio managers jettison the equities overboard. As the selling pressure mounts and the losses deepen, more and more managers feel the need to purge.

Eventually, even the most experienced money managers are throwing up stocks at bargain-basement prices. It happens every quarter.

Jeff Clark

If you are wondering how this applies to leadership, management, and success, think about this scenario. You are in a discussion. Can you recall the times where a discussion about a topic got controversial? One person came up with a totally ridiculous idea, somebody made a flip remark, and then you get the Puke Effect into full swing and everybody begins purging ‘niceties’ about ideas and individuals. It all ends in a shouting match, and if nobody stops it, it can lead to real harm, and hurt feelings.

It is rather simple. You need honesty, confidence, and communication skills. If you are confident to voice your opinion in a clear, non-threatening way, and communicate convincingly, you will avoid meetings that nobody needs.

You will be able to make decisions when all aspects have been discussed. You will be in a role that keeps discussions from escalating into a Puke-Fest.

Best of all, you will be respected, maybe even adored, and people will want to work with you and seek your advice. One way of learning to have the required combination of confidence, honesty, and communication skill is coaching.

You might want to try it for 3-6 months and see how much you can gain in a fairly short amount of time. This is especially recommended if you find yourself in a position of power and responsibility and recall events that qualify for the Puke Effect.

On a lighter note, I like to suggest watching the video (link below) and getting a clear perspective on wheretime has gone – in case you have days you ask yourself: “I did things all day long, but it appears as if nothing got done – otherthan that stupid meeting with the Puke- Fest in the middle. Where did all the time go?”

Dr. Axel Meierhoefer
CEO, AMC LLC