Category Archives: Leadership

From leading clubs and organization to leading teams of volunteers and leading a business, Ryan shares lessons of leadership that he learns through experience. There is no better way to learn how to lead but through experience or through the experiences of others.

making-the-right-choice

When is the Moment Right to Make a Right Decision

The Right Decision“I am just going to wait for the right moment.” Sound familiar? So many of us often have the tendency to wait for the right moment to take certain steps in our lives. Maybe you are waiting for the right moment to tell your friends and family about a huge life choice or maybe you are waiting for the right moment to pull out that expensive bottle of wine. Maybe you are contemplating choosing a school, whether to ask the girl out, when to get married or when to have kids. Whatever it is, we seem to have this mental block preventing us to do something because we are afraid the moment is not right.

In fact, we often say that we are just going to wait for the right moment as an excuse because we are afraid or we are not sure if the decision we are about to make is actually the right decision. So, what the “right” moment boils down to is really a question of, “Am I making the right choice?”

Making The Right Choice

There is rarely a preverbal “right moment,” instead there are right choices. Now don’t get me wrong, some choices and decisions are critical and timing is everything, but when you are making a right decision, your timing will be well thought out and appropriate. Below are some pointers on making the right choice:

  1. Seek Out Advice: The single most important thing you can do when trying to make a wise decision is seek out advice. There is nothing better than asking someone you respect for their opinion. This not only give you a fresh perspective, but it also shows you are teachable and willing to learn.
  2. Weigh out the Implications: Ever decision has side effects, both good and bad. Carefully analyze the pros and cons of your decision. Don’t just make a list and then decide. Make a list and add to it over the course of a week, let it sit for a day or two and then carefully examine your options.
  3. Does Timing Actually Matter: Ask yourself if timing is actually an important factor. If you are waiting to make a decision, try and figure out what elements of that decision are holding you back from making that decision right now. Often times, you will be surprised to find that you don’t really have a legitimate reason for waiting, if you’re being honest with yourself.

Next time you are faced with deciding whether or not the timing is right to make a decision, as yourself if you are making the right decision altogether.

Motivation Shifting

Motivation Shifting – How To Motivate Your Employees

If you tell me there will be coffee at a meeting or function, I am there. Though coffee may motivate some people to come to a meeting, it certainly does not motivate everyone. This post will address how to motivate your employees to make a more effective team.

Each person has unique factors that contribute to the way in which they are motivated. Some people will do anything for money, others for recognition and still others will help from the goodness of their heart. As a leader, you need to be a motivator and an effective one at that.

How Does Motivation Work

I love leading the creative team at Digi Tech Studio. Whether it is video production or web development, each team members is enthusiastic and passionate about what they do. Over the course of time, I discovered something interesting: when I wanted to get something accomplished and I offered everyone an incentive to increase productivity and turn around time, only a select few would go for the deal. People are motivated differently, and as a leader it is crucial to understand how motivation works and differs for every individual person that you lead.

Everybody is Motivated Differently

Several years ago, there was a project I was working diligently to accomplish. Some of the members on my team just didn’t seem to be hitting deadlines. Thankfully, these were self-given, soft deadlines and not client deadlines. As the final “hard” client deadline drew closer, I began to sweat. I started to try to motivate my team members in anyway I could. I ordered food, I changed up the work environment by going to Panera, I tried music, additional rewards, games and more. I tried all sorts of little things to make the work seem more enjoyable and get done faster but nothing worked. I was running up against a wall and could not figure out for the life of me how to motivate employees to get work done.

Discovering Motivating Factors

Finally, after every scheme and trick in the book failed, I had to halt all work and ask my teammates, “What motivates you?” It seems like a simple question, but their answers were revolutionary. The question shed light on the simple motivating factors of these team members that I would have never considered simply because we were each motivated by different things. The most surprising answers were those that said something along the lines of, “Just stop trying to motivate me and let me work. We can celebrate when it’s finished.” See, I am just the opposite and if I don’t have someone cheering me on along the way, I work slower. But that was just the problem, instead of discovering the motivating factors or my employees, I simply just applied what gets me motivated to everyone else.

As a leader, it is pivotal that you are aware of different motivators. Not everyone can be persuaded by a cup of coffee like me. Take the time to find out what keeps your team members awake at night and what gets them out of bed in the morning. By identifying your teammate’s motivating factors, you will be able to positively influence and encourage your team unlike ever before. It won’t take you long at all to realize that tailoring your leadership style to your different team members can revolutionize your team’s efficiency, communication, attitude and happiness.

What are some motivators you have used to encourage your team?

Leadership - Running Mate

The Importance of Running Mates

Leadership is a lifelong journey. On your journey as a leader, you are bound to come up against obstacles and face dangers. What sets a leader apart from everyone else is how he or she handles the obstacles that come up in their path.

One of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned in life is the importance of never running alone. I am not talking about physical running but rather running the race of life. There is nothing that is quite as powerful as having close friends or “running mates” in your life that you can trust and talk to about absolutely anything.

There are three types of running mates you should have in your leadership journey to ensure success:

  • The Forerunner: Seeking out the wisdom and insight of those that run before you is a crucial to your success on your journey of life. You may think you know how to navigate some of the more difficult terrain, but consulting someone that has seen the path ahead will lend heaps of wisdom and warnings that otherwise could be missed if you relied on your own intuition to navigate the trails.
  • The Co-runner: You cannot run alone. No one can. We were designed to be people that have relationships. We are created to invest in others. There is no better way to run a race than with someone by your side that is experiencing the same hurdles and overcoming the same obstacles. This person is your companion, your cheerleader and your closest friend. They may not be able to warn you about the future, but they will experience the present with you and hold your hand the entire way.
  • The Up & Comer: The best way to solidify your own belief system is to pass on your experiences to others. As you share your stories you will realize that your stories become nuggets of wisdom for those that are further behind in their journeys. While sharing, you will be able to talk through some of the challenges you have faced and as you reflect the big picture of the journey you have run will start falling into place.

These three people are so pivotal to a successful leadership journey and living a profitable life in the long run. The process can also be summed up in the simple words, “Learn, Do, Teach.” It is how we are wired. Having running mates on your journey will make the adventure so much more rewarding and in the end you will ultimately be more successful and profitable for realizing that there is in fact, strength in numbers.

Target on your back

A Target on Your Back

Have you ever had one of those moments where someone says something during a conversation that knocks you flat on your rear-end and those haunting words or that phrase or that plaguing question reverberates in your mind for days and weeks to come?

I recently had one of those experiences. I was talking to my Grandmother–a godly lady that is full of wisdom and insights from traveling the world, constantly working with people, serving on the board of an accredited educational institution, working the late night shift at a hospital way past her retirement age…you get the idea.

Recently, I had the opportunity to visit her. As we stood in her kitchen around her island, just talking about life and experiences, success and failures she said this to me, “Ryan, you have a target on your back. The more you accomplish and the farther you go, you’re only making it more visible and easier for the Enemy to hit.”

My world froze as those words came out of my Grandma’s mouth. She continued talking not realizing the sheer force that those words had on me. Her voice trailed off as I thought about what she had said and really what she had meant by “a target on your back.” Most of the time, you expect your grandmother to give you “attaboys” and “I’m so proud of you…” And though my Grandma is very encouraging and supportive, this was a roundabout way to say, “Watch out and don’t let what you’ve done here on earth go to your head, because as soon as you do, you will crumble and fall.”

The Mighty Can Fall

If you are in a position of leadership or have some authority or power or even money, it can be easy to be consumed and overwhelmed by the accolades that you lose sight of the things that are most important in life. As you accomplish more–whether on a small or large scale–you naturally feel this sense of entitlement. You hold your head a little higher and walk with your shoulders back and chest out. All the while, a target is growing increasingly larger on your back. If you are not careful, right when you feel you are at your pinnacle of success, you will be knocked down and humbled so quickly. You will not know what hit you.

A Wake-up Call

Those insightful and incredibly powerful words my Grandma shared with me are so true. As leaders, we need to always be on guard. We need to exercise humility and realize why we are where we are. We need to surround ourselves with others who have gone before us and can guide us in our leadership journey as we move forward. Once of the wisest men I have ever met said this to me once, “Ryan, as soon as you think ‘That will never happen to me.’ is when the opposition will strike.” And I’ve never forgotten those words. We need to be accountable and humble in our successes and realize that we are human and we indeed can fall short of the mark.

There is nothing wrong with having a target on your back. It just means that you have to be extra careful in making decisions because the bigger you are, the harder you will fall. Don’t ever forget your armor. Equip yourself with tools that are necessary to keep your power in check. Whatever you do, be very aware of the target on your back.

Love Books, Hate Reading

I Love Books, But Hate Reading

The title says it all. I absolutely cannot stand reading. In fact, I loathe the idea of sitting down for a long enough period of time and tiring my eyes by scanning the page of a book. I am too active and too fidgety and honestly my mind wanders and I cannot comprehend or retain what I read.

The Cure for Book Haters

Despite the fact reading and I do not get along very well, I love books. Yes, I know I just contradicted myself. Books are overflowing with valuable insights and knowledge that can develop your ability to be a better businessperson, a better leader, a better worker, a better spouse or just a more well-rounded person.

So here is my cure for the contradiction of loving books but hating reading–audiobooks.

If you are like me and can’t sit still, audiobooks are the solution. You can be driving, flying, riding, working, cooking, jogging, cleaning…you get the idea. Audiobooks free up time, and allow you to get knowledge from books without having to sit down and read. Additionally, I am an auditory learner, so listening often makes the message stick.

The Pros and Cons of Audiobooks

Audiobooks fill in the cracks of time. For instance, unless you are super talented or asking for a death wish, you couldn’t ordinarily read and drive–audiobooks make that possible. There is less wasted time with reading. You can also share audiobooks with family and friends on road trips or in the office if they want to listen and learn. A big positive is that most of the time, audiobooks are cheaper than the actual book. Another benefit to audiobooks is that many of them have interviews or radio show clips with the author to get his or her point of view. Some audiobooks that are narrated by the author have side commentary that goes into detail about what they wrote about that you may not get in a book.

The downside to audiobooks is that you can’t really annotate, highlight, etc. like you could if you had the actual text in front of you. I often buy a copy of the book as well so I can keep notes if I hear something I want to remember. It can also be a bit more difficult to lend an audiobook out to a friend for them to read.

Overall, audiobooks are worth it. They cure my contradictory phrase: “I Love Books, But Hate Reading!”

Book Reviews on this Blog

A new addition to this blog is Book Reviews. I am starting to review some of the books I have read (or listened to) so that my readers can find some of the sources of my inspiration. So stay tuned as more book reviews start appearing on here in the near future!

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October Recap: Lessons from the Life of Steve Jobs and more

October was a sad month as the world lost one of its greatest innovators, Steve Jobs but it was also an exciting month as I started the 30-day Thanksgiving Challenge. Here is my recap of blog articles from the month of October.

Lessons from the Life of Steve Jobs

Leadership, Business and Life

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Leadership Spotlight: James Barnett, founder of Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit down with James Barnett, founder of Clothe Your Neighbor As Yourself (CYNY). His inspirational story shows what it means to be a true leader and surrender everything you know and throw off everything you are comfortable with to make a difference.

How Clothe Your Neighbor As Yourself was born

“I was making a lot of money and I started to question if that is what God desired for my life,” Barnett said as he sat with one leg crossed over the other. He continued to tell of how comfortable his life was–the perfect job, all the material possessions he could have ever wanted–yet he sat there with a contented smile as he told about how much happier he was now, with virtually nothing. In a radical effort to help him gain grips of reality, Barnett decided to sell all of his possessions, every single thing he owned and move out onto the streets where he spent nearly the next two years of his life. “I decided to get in the right state of mind, so I went and lived with the poor.”

Out of this bold life-choice, Clothe Your Neighbor as Yourself was born. CYNY is an organization that strives to make a difference in the lives of its neighbors. “We are not so much about clothing as we are about neighbors,” James said. “Our neighbors are our enemies and are overseas just as much as those that live next door.” CYNY is set-up as a non-profit organization that sells shirts to raise money to help out its neighbors in a variety of capacities. Every dollar that is raised goes to helping people, our neighbors, where they are and where they need the most support. Sometimes that support means helping kids in Kenya receive an education by providing school uniforms and sometimes, it means helping that man on the street holding a cardboard sign get a pair of shoes and socks. As Barnett continued, you could hear the emotion, excitement and passion in his voice, “After spending time with my friends in Tallahassee, I realized they need shoes and socks. So, I designed and printed some shirts to sell to youth group and the idea spread like wildfire.”  Those shirts are what started this incredible movement.

Every move that Barnett makes and every step he takes with CYNY is always focused on empowering and helping others right down to the threads in the t-shirts. The organization has carefully chose American Apparel as their t-shirt supplier, not just because of quality, but because of the story behind how the shirts are made. From the plant to the press, the shirts are threaded, sewn, dyed, and printed by people who are treated with utmost respect and care by their employers and in turn care for the earth, the economy and the world. All of the strategic decisions help further the mission of CYNY on a level that many people will never see.

James Barnett on Leadership

It obviously takes a great deal of courage and ambition to close the door to your comfortable home and walk away from it forever and resorting to living from a van traveling to dozen of cities while meeting countless people with deep, life-altering stories. One of my favorite questions to ask any leader is this, ‘How do you define leadership?’ Without hesitation, James spoke up and said, “I’ve always thought that you can’t lead people to a place where you’re not. So, to become a leader, you must first become a servant. When you can do that and show people you’re in that place, they’ll see your lifestyle and it will be contagious.”

That is a powerful and true definition of leadership. It is vital that leaders meet people where they are. Leadership is not confined to a title but defined by a lifestyle and James Barnett has certainly illustrated that throughout the course of his life. Even in his email signatures he shares his life passion by saying, “Saving the world one naked person at a time, James.” Even Barnett’s outlook on business is so unique yet powerful. He says, “The goal of any non-profit should be non-existence. If your heart is for the poor, you don’t want them to be poor forever.” As he explained this he basically said that if your goal is to make a difference in the poor community, your desire should be to make such an impact that there is no reason for you to be around anymore because you have resolved the problem.

 

James Barnett’s story is truly powerful. His story isn’t one that encourages people to go live on the streets. Instead, his story is one that should inspire us as leaders to see a need and make a difference. What keeps you awake at night? Are you willing to step outside of your comfort zone, whatever that may be, and go inspire those people towards a positive change? Are you willing to initiate a movement that impacts the world one person at a time?

 

Follow @JamestheVerb on Twitter

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Inspirational Quotes from Steve Jobs on Innovation and Leadership

Throughout the course of his life, Steve Jobs left behind inspirational quotes on leadership, innovation, business and marketing.

Inspirational Steve Jobs Quotes

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me…Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful…that’s what matters to me.”

“I want to put a ding in the universe.”

“I was worth over $1,000,000 when I was 23, and over $10,000,000 when I was 24, and over $100,000,000 when I was 25, and it wasn’t that important because I never did it for the money.”

“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”

“I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.”

Quotes from Steve Jobs on Leadership

“My job is not to be easy on people. My jobs is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.”

“The people who are doing the work are the moving force behind the Macintosh. My job is to create a space for them, to clear out the rest of the organization and keep it at bay.”

Steve Jobs Quotes on Innovation

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

“The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.”

Marketing and Business Quotes by Steve Jobs

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.”

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.”

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”

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Lessons from the Life of Steve Jobs

A leader, an innovator, a mover, a changer, a designer, a marketer, a visionary…these are just some of the many words and phrases that come to mind when I think of Apple’s former CEO who passed away on October 5, 2011.

Jobs was truly an inspiration to me as an individual. There are many lessons you can learn from him. In a recent talk I gave on leadership, I said, “Steve Job’s most impressive accomplishment was not the iMac or the iPhone or the iPad. His single most impressive achievement was his ability to cast a vision and bring a team of individuals from designers to thought leaders, engineers to marketers together to achieve that vision and create products that have revolutionized technology.”

One of my goals was to always sit down and meet with Steve Jobs, but unfortunately, I will not have that opportunity in this lifetime. From seeing Steve Jobs represent Apple over the years, I have come to the conclusion that these three lessons can be learned from Steve Jobs’ life.

3 Lessons from Steve Jobs

  1. Never think too small. Time and time again, we saw Steve Jobs stand on the stage in Cupertino, California and blow people away with revolutionary breakthroughs in technology. Steve Jobs didn’t get caught up in what he had in front of him today, he thought of the future.
  2. Never act alone. Steve Jobs was a leader and innovator that relied heavily on a hand-crafted team of experts. Leaders never act alone, they surround themselves with people who have gone ahead of them (mentors/coaches), people who can run alongside them and keep them accountable and finally, people who are a few steps behind them that they can share their experiences with.
  3. Never give up. Whether it was the constant battle with Microsoft for the top of the computer industry or his battle with pancreatic cancer starting in 2004, Steve Jobs never once gave up. He continued to dream and continued to cast a vision for others to follow.
My challenge to you is to live your life in such a way that you will leave a legacy like the legacy of Steve Jobs. Dream big, surround yourself with a core team and never give up–these are just a few of the countless lessons you can learn from Steve Jobs.