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Leadership

Chris LoCurto

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February 9, 2011

This Job Sucks!

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This past week I had the pleasure of doing a video shoot for our curriculum department. I was asked by the lovely and talented Cheryl Brehm to speak to college freshmen about the importance of using a personality profile to pick a major. I also talked to graduating seniors about how important it is to let their personality style guide them as they choose a specific position within the field that they are about to enter.

You see, there is a high—very high in fact—percentage of people who graduate and enter a chosen field, only to find out that they hate it. Instead of choosing the one thing they are most passionate about, most kids choose a major because it pays well. Only later, they find out that it just doesn’t….fit! And in the mortal words of Johnnie Cochran, “If it doesn’t fit….you must uhhhh quit!”

To me, passion is the most important requirement for a career choice. Find something you are passionate about, then dig really deep to find out about all of the possible positions in that field. You see, liking a certain field isn’t good enough. I may really enjoy the medical field, but that doesn’t mean that I like working with patients….and their blood and stuff. Perhaps I’m really detailed and I would enjoy working in the billing department…which is known to be considerably far away from the blood….and stuff.

So if you’re already in a field that you don’t like and you want to get out, start listing all the things you are passionate about. Then list the fields that would put those passions to work. Now, pick your top two or three and do some serious research to find out details about each available position in those fields.

At this point, a personality test will show you which positions match up with the strengths of your personality type. We use the DISC personality test here, and we love it. If you’re a high D, then you probably want something that’s different every day—a constant challenge. A high I will excel in a position that involves people and excitement. For a high S, consistent responsibilities that provide a service for internal or external customers is ideal. A high C thrives on details and processes.

Now, I teach an hour-long lesson on DISC in EntreLeadership, so it’s considerably more in-depth than I’ve described here. But this is a great start if you’re wondering why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s possibly that you and your position just don’t fit.

Chris LoCurto

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February 8, 2011

Penalty of Leadership

February 8, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Sent to me by the incredible Aaron West

The Penalty of Leadership is the title of a Cadillac advertisement that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, on January 2, 1915. (It has been in the beginning of their owners manuals for years.) It is a very powerful writing that was written for Cadillac by Theodore F. MacManus. The advertisement follows:

Penalty of Leadership. “In every field of endeavor, he that is first must perpetually live in the white light of publicity. Whether the leadership be vested in a man or a manufactured product, emulation and envy are ever at work. In art, in literature, in music, in industry, the reward and the punishment are always the same. The reward is widespread recognition; the punishment, fierce denial and detraction.

When a man’s work becomes a standard for the whole world, it also becomes a target for the shafts of the envious few. If his work be merely mediocre, he will be left severely alone – if he achieve a masterpiece, it will set a million tongues a-wagging. Jealousy does not protrude its forked tongue at the artist who produces a common-place painting. Whatsoever you write, paint, play, sing or build, no one will strive to surpass or to slander you, unless your work be stamped with the seal of genius.

Long, long after a great work or a good work as been done, those who are disappointed or envious continue to cry out that it cannot be done. Spiteful little voices in the domain of art were raised against our own Whistler as a mountebank, long after the big world had acclaimed him its greatest artistic genius. Multitudes flocked to Bayreuth to worship at the musical shrine of Wagner, while a little group of those whom he had dethroned and displaced, argued angrily that he was no musician at all. The little world continued to protest that Fulton could never build a steamboat, while the big world flocked to the river banks to see his boat steam by.

The leader is assailed because he is a leader, and the effort to equal him is merely added proof of that leadership. Failing to equal or to excel, the follower seeks to depreciate and to destroy – but only confirms once more the superiority of that which he strives to supplant. There is nothing new in this. It is as old as the world and as old as the human passions – envy, fear, greed, ambition and the desire to surpass. And it all avails nothing. If the leader truly leads, he remains -­ the leader. Master-poet, master-painter, master-workman, each in his turn is assailed and each holds his laurels through the ages. That which is good or great makes itself known, no matter how loud the clamor of denial. That which deserves to live – lives”.

Chris LoCurto

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February 7, 2011

Run Forest!

February 7, 2011 | By | 6 Comments">6 Comments

So I was reading a post that Michael Hyatt put out about the importance of signing up for a half marathon and getting out there and exercising. And I have to say that I absolutely agree. Every year a bunch of people at Dave Ramsey‘s office sign up for the Country Music Marathon & 1/2, and I’m proud to say that this year I’m signed up as well! (Crud, what did I get myself into?) I’m starting late on the training, so I don’t expect to run the whole thing, but I will be finishing. God help me!

Michael had eight great reasons to get out there and do this; I want to focus on a couple myself for leaders and their teams. While exercise is just plain smart, there’s a couple of reasons that it’s vital for survival. You see, I believe we live  ever increasingly stressed out lives. Everything seems to be moving at a much greater pace, and the search for personal down time is coming up shorter and shorter every day. So I want to add three areas to Michael’s thoughts:

  • Put the coffee cup down and pick up the water-glass! It is almost a right of passage when you become a part of the workforce that you have to drink coffee to get your day going and keep it going. As any good nutritionist will tell you, the problem is that caffeine is a stimulant that actually shuts off your adrenal glands while it’s working in your system. The more caffeine, the lest your adrenals work. Why is that important? Not only do the adrenals give you adrenaline, but they are also responsible for healing your body. Therefore, when they shut down, so do you!

  • Kick off the loafers and put on the Nike’s. While running is good for so many reasons, one of the best is that it releases endorphins. Endorphins are natural pain relievers, but they are also considered to have a stronger effect on the body than most drugs. That’s where the term “runner’s high” comes from. You feel considerably more energized, and in turn, endorphins also reduce the effect of stress on your body, allowing you to stay more energized longer.
  • Put down the Princess Leia cinnamon buns and the comfort food. Have you ever actually looked at the nutritional panel on that package? I’ve seen them have as much as twenty-six grams of fat; in one bun! Start your week off right by showing up with a bunch of healthy snacks that you can munch on during the week. One of my favorites is Larabars. (They have a new one, blueberry muffin. SAWEET!) As for the comfort food, I’m a huge offender of this, but you’ve got to make better choices. There’s one undeniable thing, while I may feel great eating comfort foot, I always feel bad an hour later when I have no energy. As well as when I step on the scale the next day.

Give yourself one month of making these changes. If you don’t feel better…blame it on Michael. :-)

If you’re doing the Country Music Marathon & 1/2, leave a comment!

Chris LoCurto

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February 2, 2011

Where’s My Superman?

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Day three of ECL and these attendees are full of information that will revolutionize their businesses; and we still have today to go! Today I am going to cover:

  • Contract Negotiations
  • Personal Selling
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Making the Call

This is a great day that focuses mainly on getting the word out. Both the micro and macro of marketing. You have to have a plan for both the hand to hand combat, as well as the marketing to the masses; hence the macro marketing. As my former marketing director says, “Nobody notices Superman way up in the sky…until somebody points at him.” What are you doing to get people to point at you? HAHAHA…uhhhh, your business. I really don’t need to know what you’re doing to get people to point at you. Anyway, the important thing is to make sure that somebody notices you.

A specific example of this is when someone is a really great cook at home, and those around them convince that person to open a restaurant. They then spend a lot of time and money to open Hannah’s Slice of Heaven, but when they open their doors, ten people show up. “Surely we will be flooded with people when the word gets out!” Well, if those ten people start campaigning 24/7, then you have a chance. But that’s not going to happen. A few months later, they close their doors. The problem is not the food, or the service, or the location. Well, actually it could be all of those. But what I see more than anything, is the absolute lack of marketing.

I was constantly telling the Live Events team that if people don’t know we’re coming to do an event in their city, they can’t buy our tickets! Seems basic, right? But WAY too many entrepreneurs and business leaders don’t focus enough attention on getting the word out. I spend over two hours teaching on marketing and advertising alone in ECL, so obviously I can t cover all of that in this post. I will say that some key steps are:

  • Discover who your core audience is. If you sell high-end fountain pens, don’t waste your money advertising in Gamer magazine. Probably not your clientele.
  • Find out the best medium for reaching this group. What do they read? What do they watch on TV? What web pages do they live on?
  • Try to use marketing vehicles that will allow you to only market to this demographic. It doesn’t have to be expensive; Guerrilla Marketing.
  • Use the power of the people! In Tribes, Seth Godin talks about building a tribe of people who are in love with your product, then focus them on getting the word out.
  • Discover your funnel. What are the free to cheap things that you can do to get people into your business? (YouTube  videos, interviews on your website from an expert in your field, etc.) All the way down to your most expensive item.

Those are just a few examples to get you going. Hope it helps.

Chris LoCurto

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February 1, 2011

Show Me The Money!

February 1, 2011 | By | One Comment">One Comment

Day two of ECL and by now the brains of the attendees are sizzling! Yesterday was a big day with a lot of information. Yesterday I taught on:

  • EntreLeadership Defined
  • Dreams, Visions, and Goal Setting
  • Time Management
  • Personality Styles
  • Communication
  • Building Unity and Loyalty
  • Compensation

Today I teach on:

  • Team Math – Adding and Subtracting
  • Delegation
  • Recognition
  • Financial Peace for the EntreLeader
  • Accounting
  • Art of Outsourcing

Of all of today’s lessons, the one question we get the most is, “You can’t really run a business debt free, right?” In “Oh, I Wasn’t Supposed To Do That?” I talked about how you can run your business debt free. It is THE most vital part of running your business as far as I am concerned. (Well, right after having a product that people actually want, hello Colgate Kitchen Entrees!) And the reason for that is, it gives you options when you don’t have debt. So check that out.

On top of that, I want to talk about the importance of accounting. Today I will ask a room full of entrepreneurs, “Who likes to do the accounting?” Inevitably, no hands will go up. Business owners don’t like to mess around in the accounting. It’s a pain, it’s not exciting, and it’s too many details. It’s like a root canal that happens every month. The problem is, when you don’t do the accounting early and often, you don’t have an actual clue where you really are. It’s like not balancing your checkbook at home and wondering why you bounced checks!

When you get on the accounting and get it done, you can budget and forecast better, as well as predict the future by looking at the past. You can see where your high and low months are; that way you can save money out of the high months to cover the low months. I know, there’s that crazy idea of saving money to spend thing! Then you don’t have to go into debt in the down months, which most companies don’t pay back in the high months anyways. So when it comes to accounting, your new mantra is “Early and Often!” Get it done so you know where you’re going.

Chris LoCurto

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January 31, 2011

Champions!

January 31, 2011 | By | 3 Comments">3 Comments

Today kicks off what we at Dave Ramsey‘s office call ECL; EntreLeadership Chris LoCurto. This is our full EntreLeadership event that we host at a destination for a week, only done in three days at our conference center taught by me…and without the beach…or the language barrier.

But it’s all the same outrageously revolutionary information. We don’t even market this event to the public because it sells out in days. Over the next three days I will be teaching business changing principles for eighteen hours. Yes, these poor folks will listen to my voice for eighteen hours!!! Today is a day that is mainly dedicated to team building.

Among all of the vital lessons that I will teach today, one of those is about gossip. I truly believe that gossip is a cancer for your organization. It spreads easily among the…weaker cells. In fact, I’ve always heard from doctors or nutritionist that the more acidic your body, the more prone your body is to cancer. Cancer loves and thrives on acid.

It’s funny to think that it’s the same way with gossip. If a person is a gossip, they don’t usually go and gossip to the person who doesn’t. Why not? There’s no satisfaction in that. They want someone who they can attach to and spew their cancerous filth into. If they can find that person, their cancer will spread.

This is something that you have to jump on right away!!! You have to get in there and do some serious surgery to cut that junk out of your business. We have a policy here; we’ll fire you for gossip. We may warn you once, but after that you’re Audi 5000 baby! The reason is obvious…but there’s more than just one reason.

You see, you can’t keep champions in your business if it’s infected! That’s just not the situation that a champion wants to be in. And word will get out to the champions that were looking at your place, that it’s a place that they will not enjoy. Champions want to show up, put a hard days work in, maybe get a pat on the back, and go home feeling like they accomplished something that was bigger than them. That is the kind of person you want on your team, because that is the kind of person that will help to propel your efforts forward.

The more champions, the stronger your business, and the more momentum you will have. And believe me, the more momentum the better. So if you’re having problems with gossip in your business, and you know deep down inside if you do, go to town on it with the biggest scalpel you can find. The sooner you do, the sooner you can attract the kind of team member you want!

Chris LoCurto

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January 28, 2011

Crystal Blue Persuasion

January 28, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Ok, the title has nothing to do with this post except the word persuasion…and I happen to love the song.

Although many believe the name came from the picture above that was taken by Apollo 7, the truth is when Tommy James was asked what persuaded the name, he said that it was from the Book of Revelations chapter 19; “Yes, it is. It’s out of the Bible. The imagery was right out of Chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation, about the lake of crystal, and just what John sees. The imagery was just right there. ‘Crystal blue persuasion,’ although those words aren’t used together, it was what the image meant to me.”

I do want to talk about persuasion though. There’s an old saying, “You can’t push a rope, you can only pull it.” In EntreLeadership we talk about the difference between positional power and persuasive power. Positional power is that boss who tells you exactly what you’re going to do. It’s also the same way with parenting. If you resort to, “You’ll do it because I said so!” then you’ve already lost in your leadership of being a parent.

By Webster’s definition, to persuade means: to move by argument, entreaty, or expostulation to a belief, position, or course of action. The way we like to say it, it’s a way of convincing somebody to do something that they might not do on their own. As a parent, it’s your job to make sure that your children are raised in a way that they can be a productive part of society. That they treat people with respect and love. That they make smart decisions like not getting in a car drunk, or with someone who is.

That they spend their life working hard because “the diligent prosper”, not living with a victim mentality. That they find joy in real love, instead of being destroyed by someone who only cares about their self. Therefore, it is your responsibility to persuade them to do those things that are right. It’s your responsibility to guide and direct them through life knowing the pitfalls to avoid, the battles to fight, and what it means to be selfless. You let rope out day after day, year after year, and eventually someday…you let go of the rope.

Funny thing is, it’s the same with leadership. Any good leader eventually realizes that part of leadership is being a parent. Once you hire a person, you have now taken on the responsibility of making sure they are successful with what they do. It’s your job to make sure that they have everything they could possible need to do what it is that you’ve asked them to do.

You have to be there to answer questions, and ask questions of things that they aren’t thinking yet. You need to persuade them through tough decisions and hard times. And day after day, year after year, you let the rope out till eventually all you have is the end. The only difference between parenting and business is that in business, you never let go of the rope.

Question: How well do you do with this principle?

Chris LoCurto

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January 25, 2011

Please Help Me!

January 25, 2011 | By | 7 Comments">7 Comments

I have to say that I used to have the best personal assistant on the planet: Marybeth. “Used” being the operative word since she left me! Yep, you’re on your own, c-ya, ga’bye! I’m sorry, give me a second….*tears*…..ohhhh gaaaaaaaa!!!! WHY?!!!!!…..*snif*….ok I’m back. Sorry about that, where was I, oh yeah, she had to get married to this really cool, funny, charming, (Dare I say handsome…no, that’s crossing a line) great guy Joel and moved to DC. But I’m not bitter. At least I got to dance with her at her beautiful wedding…which again is why she left me. Did I already mention that?

The greatest gift that I got from Marybeth was her friendship. And the fact that she laughs at my jokes; even when I don’t pay her anymore. She knows I would take a bullet for her, and I know she would for me. Marybeth made my life easier! She took care of me like nobody’s business…or…like it was her business. Whatever, it’s a saying. But I can say that it wasn’t always that way. Not with MB, but before she got there. Before MB I had GREAT assistants who did fabulous jobs taking care of my department. But there’s a difference between an assistant, and a personal assistant.

I realized this when life was getting so busy that I couldn’t even get to the emissions place to have my car….emissioned. I don’t know. As I looked around my life, things were getting missed. A lot of personal time was being taken up with work. Everyday became slammed with meetings, every lunch was a meeting, most nights were meetings, or dinner interviews, or connecting time with team members, and then I traveled a ton on the weekends (still do) as well.

I would be in my office realizing that I needed water or a snack, since I had been nailed down to my desk for hours straight, and I couldn’t take the time to get up to get it. Many times I would work straight through lunch and would miss it because there just wasn’t time to go get something. There were times I would miss a birthday, or forget to send flowers to someone in the hospital, or I would leave work too late to pick up my dry cleaning…or…or… And it was these things that would then take up the personal I time needed in my life. Instead of living life outside of the office, I was spending time doing all the “chores” instead of enjoying the down time that was so needed.

I discovered that my personal time was too important to lose doing menial things. That’s when I hired a “personal”  assistant. Someone who took care of my department, but also did all of the personal stuff needed so I could have a balanced work and personal life. That’s when a bunch of stress left my body.

Does everybody need a personal assistant? Oh gosh no. Most leaders I know don’t have to travel, don’t have to work through lunch, don’t have evening meetings. And I’m SURELY not suggesting that you start working like that so you can have one. What I am saying is you need to look at what balance is. If you have a position that requires more of you that can’t be passed off to someone else, and it has an effect on your personal life, then you might need reevaluate your needs.

Chris LoCurto

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January 21, 2011

Will You Hire Me?

January 21, 2011 | By | 7 Comments">7 Comments

Tammy Kornberg is one of my favorite people on the planet! Her and her crazy funny husband Mitch are a blast to hang with. They both just love life. I hired Tammy to sell almost four years ago, and she has done nothing but knock it out of the park.

But how she got hired is interesting. She was working at a restaurant as manager at a high-end place when Dave and his son Daniel came in to eat. She really took care of him and treated him like a normal person. In the process, the discussion came up that she was looking for a daytime job.

Dave liked Tammy so much that he told her to bypass our system and bring her resume straight to his personal assistant. (Now, you should know that this kind of thing just doesn’t happen. If you’re thinking you’ll attack Dave with a resume, let me say that it won’t work.)

Tammy brought her resume by that April….in August she got a call. And even then it was for a temp position. But, it was for the best team in the building…mine! Needless to say, not only did she get hired, but she got hired full-time and has been killing it ever since.

But it was after some serious scrutiny from HR, my personal assistant, my sales team leader in that area, my EVP, me, and an interview with my spouse; as was with any hire for my team. It was eight months from the dinner, to me hiring her full-time. And at our place, that’s not bad.

Not only does it take a long time to get hired at Dave Ramsey‘s organization, but your chances are low. In fact, last year we had three thousand applications, one thousand interviews, and we hired thirty people. Yep, we have a one percent acceptance rate. Just a little comparison for you, Harvard has a seven percent acceptance rate.

Why so low you might ask. Plain and simple, we take our time.  We don’t rush the process of hiring. In fact, it’s not uncommon for me to meet with leaders who hate the people who they’ve hired. When I ask the interview process, it’s usually one or two steps long. Ours is at least four, and usually greater than five. What are just some of the things we do:

  • We pray!
  • We post the job with enough detail that it can rule out the person before they even apply.
  • We have them take a personality test when it’s down to two or three candidates.
  • We look for the character traits we want for that position.
  • We get a personal budget so we know they can afford to work here.
  • We make sure they are here for more than just a j.o.b.

There’s a lot more, but this should give you an idea. When hiring, take….your….time. Use the ratio of two to one; you have two ears and one mouth, so use the ears twice as much. Let the candidate do the talking. Who knows, they might just rule themselves out right in front of you.

Chris LoCurto

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January 19, 2011

Dang, Did I Do That?

January 19, 2011 | By | 8 Comments">8 Comments

As unmanly as it is to say, I actually like the Lion King. I know, I know, I can hear all of you saying, “But Chris, you’re so studly! How could you possibly?” So go ahead…tell me how studly I am………………(crickets) I like it because it’s a great story, and it has some really great parts to it. Like when the hyenas are gathered in a circle and they keep saying the great lion Mufasa’s name:

1st hyena: “Mufasa!”

2nd hyena: “ewwww, I hear that name and I shudder…do it again.”

1st hyena: “MUFASAAAAAAAA…”

That’s just good quality stuff right there. But my favorite part is when the lion cub Simba has run away from everyone because he thinks he is responsible for Mufasa’s death. Rafiki finds him in hiding and tells him that he needs to come home:

Adult Simba: I know what I have to do. But going back will mean facing my past. I’ve been running from it for so long.

[Rafiki hits Simba on the head with his stick]

Adult Simba: Ow! Jeez, what was that for?

Rafiki: It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past.

[laughs]

Adult Simba: Yeah, but it still hurts.

Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.

[swings his stick at Simba again who ducks out of the way]

Rafiki: Ha. You See? So what are you going to do?

Adult Simba: First, I’m gonna take your stick.

The truth is, the past does hurt. We’ve all made some serious mistakes that we’re not proud of. (If you haven’t, it’s coming. Sorry.) And because of that, we have a tendency to run from the future. That’s right, we will keep ourselves from doing something that God has ordained because we’ve made a mess of something before. We become afraid of how bad we might screw up again. But you need to know that the past is the past! That’s why they call it that! It’s over, gone, done and done! We need to move on and not allow our past failures to control our future. Every great leader has quotes on how much you must fail to succeed. If they know it, why don’t we?

And God doesn’t want to leave you there in the past and taunt you about it day after day. One of the greatest examples of someone who messed up, but God redeemed, is Paul. Paul was Saul, a guy who used to kill Christians. We believe that it was he who held the coats of those who stoned Stephen. And yet God turned him into the greatest evangelist. Every time I read the story, I don’t ever read how everyday God was there every day going, “Hey, don’t forget you used to be a murderer. That’s really kinda bad in my book.” Instead, He used him to help me to know about my place in Heaven.

As an individual, the next time you allow the mistakes of the past to ruin your day, stop and think about Paul and how some of his days went. It’ll change the way you feel. As a leader, you need to be keenly aware of where your people struggle in the area of making mistakes. If it’s from the past, you won’t get them to take many risks for the future.

Chris LoCurto

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January 17, 2011

The Power Of Influence

January 17, 2011 | By | One Comment">One Comment

Garth Brooks singing the Don McLean song &quot...

Image via Wikipedia

For a very long time, there has been one concert that I’ve wanted to see: Garth! I never got the chance to see him in the early days when he was flyin’ from the ceilings of arenas, and my heart sunk when he stopped touring. But praise God that he and Steve Wynn came up with the incredible idea of Garth doing a bunch of really small concerts in Vegas. And that’s where I finally got the chance to see the genius at work. Let me say, it was outrageous! It was like being in his living room. I won’t go into too many details, I don’t want to spoil it, in case you get the chance to see the show.

One of the things I will share, is he spends a good amount of time talking about influences. Over and over he paints a picture of  how certain people have made a huge impact in life and his music. Starting with him riding in the truck with his father listening to old country music on the radio. It’s that very thing that draws you in and helps you to see each one of those experiences played out in your mind. But it couldn’t happen without there being someone playing the part of the influential one.

Every Wednesday we have a devotional at our office for our team. This past Wednesday our former pastor, L.H. Hardwick, delivered a fantastic talk. But before he did, Dave got up and talked about how Brother Hardwick played a very important role in Dave’s life. It was Christ Church where Dave got saved. He became a spiritual father to Dave in his journey of becoming a Christian, as well as walking the walk. He shared that story with our team and it put you there at Christ Church all those years ago with a young Brother Hardwick, and an even younger Dave Ramsey, walking the road to Romans.

Each time I hear stories like this it makes me want to recognize those who have influenced me in my life, and be selfless enough to be one of the influential people in another person’s life. If you think really hard, can you tell a story of those in your life that have made a difference? Could someone tell a story about how you have done exactly that for them? I believe stories have such an impact on us because we are just that…one big story.

Chris LoCurto

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January 13, 2011

Wow, Look What I Did!

January 13, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Goal Setting

Image by angietorres via Flickr

It’s that time of year when people set goals. Well, attempt to set goals. I actually don’t find many people who really know how to set actual goals. Usually what I find are people who sit down, write out all the things they want to accomplish during the next year, then put that piece of paper in a drawer somewhere. Long about November, they pull it out, blow the dust off, and comment on how well they did completing three of the fifteen things they wrote down. This is not goal setting people!

Whether you’re a leader or a team member, to truly learn how to do goal setting, you have to understand that it’s not about the “dream” of doing something, it’s about the breakdown of individual tasks that it takes to accomplish the “dream”. I always use the following example in “Dreams, Visions, and Goal Setting” in EntreLeadership: “If we said that we were going to have dinner tonight at 6:30 PM at a specific restaurant, what would need to happen? First, this guy on stage would have to stop talking, then you would get up from your chair, walk over to the door, open the door, walk out to the bus that should have already been set up to take us, get on the bus, sit down, the driver needs to drive to the restaurant, you get up, walk off the bus, walk to the restaurant, open the door, find your seat, sit down, order, the cook cooks it, and the server brings your food.” WHEW!!

Now, that seems overly simplistic, but the truth is, that’s how you need to break down your goals. When you write them down, and then break them down, you can actually see the steps you need to take to complete them. And doing it to this extreme, allows you to see where you’ve fallen behind, are ahead of schedule, missing pieces of the goal, etc.

In that same lesson we say that for goals to work they need to be five things:

  • Specific – not just a lofty idea, what exactly do you want to do?
  • Measurable – how do you know what success looks like?
  • Have a time limit – when should each individual part be accomplished?
  • Must be yours – If not, it’s just a delegated task.
  • Must be in writing – Otherwise it stays a dream that will be forgotten soon.

So, if you’ve already started your process, hopefully this will help you to revisit if you’re missing some of these elements. If you haven’t started yet, then first: find some time to dream, sit down, take out a piece of paper or use your computer, write down the main ideas of what you want to accomplish, then spend time breaking down exactly what needs to happen to accomplish those goals. Put time limits in place of when each thing should be done. Then AT LEAST once a month go back and see where you are. I prefer no more than every two weeks.

I promise, you will do more for your goals than dusting them off in November to see where you are.

Chris LoCurto

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January 11, 2011

Stop Talking!

January 11, 2011 | By | 5 Comments">5 Comments

I happened to stop at a sandwich shop the other day. It’s a great chain with really good sandwiches. As I walked in I quickly realized that I was the only one there, but it was after lunch, so I bet it was hoppin’ before I got there.

Shhh, Lost Is On

Image by Cayusa via Flickr

There were three young folks: two guys making sandwiches and one gal at the register. The guys seemed like they were having a good day, and the gal…..looked at me funny. I gave my order for three sandwiches, and the guys jumped right on it. (No, they weren’t all for me….just two of them. Okay, just one.) Once my order was paid for I noticed that a couple of firemen and a young gal had fallen in line behind me ready to order.

As they placed their orders, one of the guys had to run to the back to get…something, so the gal jumped on the line to take his place. It was then that she began to….complain! She complained about something that the company wasn’t doing, and it was loud enough for customers to hear.

You should know that this is one of my pet peeves! I can’t stand when team members complain with customers around. Push aside the fact that it’s a severe gossip issue, no customer wants to hear it. And every time it happens, all I can think about is what’s wrong with their leadership?  There are many reasons for gossip: like a lack of character, integrity, etc. Gossip is a cancer and needs to be cut out IMMEDIATELY! But there’s one main reason that I have found for gossip; the feeling that leadership won’t listen to what’s going on.

At EntreLeadership I get the opportunity to talk with both leaders and team members. And every time the discussion of gossip comes up, I dig really deep to find the root of it. Almost every time I find the reason for the gossip is that the team members feel like they are trying to correct problems that are going on and nobody will give them the time of day. When this happens, that team member feels the need to tell someone else and be validated. They need to know that someone else understands the problem and the need to fix it.

This can be resolved pretty easily in most cases…TALK TO YOUR TEAM! You have got to get in there and find out what’s going on. There is no leadership error that I hate more than a leader who won’t actually talk to their INDIVIDUAL team members and get a pulse. I capitalize “individual” because I know too many leaders who get a pulse from team members about OTHER team members. This is ridiculous and is another post some time.

“Well, I don’t want to talk to them because they’re just always cynical!” Seriously? That’s your answer? Great job leader! You know, I once heard Jim Collins say that a cynic is nothing more than a passionate person who is tired of being let down. Why don’t you try getting out of yourself and discover the inner champion of your team member. Who knows, you might be impressed. Worst case, you find out they do suck and you get rid of them. Most likely, I believe, that won’t be the issue. You’ll find that you’re the problem. OUCH!

The title Stop Talking! is for the team member who’s complaining, especially with the public in ear shot. If that’s you, force a time with your leader to get them to listen. If they suck, and they can’t give you the time, go someplace where you can be a champion! Don’t stay and become a cynic!

Chris LoCurto

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January 7, 2011

American Airlines

January 7, 2011 | By | No Comments">No Comments

A couple of weeks ago in my post Southwest Airlines, I wrote about how amazing they are compared to other airlines. This past week I had the opportunity to fly American Airlines and let them prove me wrong. Guess where I’m sitting…in the airport having just missed my flight. Now, the important thing to know is that we were late, and that was our fault. And since we were late, the gal at the ticket counter was nice enough to call the plane and ask them to wait, then she personally escorted us through security. (Apparently they have more authority than TSA in that area. Who knew?) The flight was supposed to leave at 4:15 PM and we booked it through the airport like we were twenty years younger!

Up to this point American Airlines has redeemed themselves, and I feel like a heel that I talked trash about other airlines in that post. However,  at 4:10 PM we got to the gate to find that they had released the 4:15 PM flight at, wait for it……..4:06 PM! WHAT?! We’re not even really late at this point!! Yes, their website has their legal jargon about needing to board twenty minutes early and all that. BLAH BLAH BLAH. But Southwest would have let us on! How do I know that? Because in the over four hundred flights that I’ve had on Southwest, I’ve actually seen it happen multiple times. Times that I was sitting on the plane wondering what we were waiting for, and it turned out to be people running for the plane.

So here I sit thinking to myself, why can’t there be more airlines like Southwest? Again, I am extremely appreciative of the lady who helped us get toooo the gate but not so much the people AT the gate! This was your chance AA to show the world…or at least those who read Chris LoCurto’s blog, that you are a company that takes care of its customers. But today I say like Mike Myers in “So I Married An Axe Murderer”, “nononono…negatory…negatory!!!”

Now, we are on the plane leaving and we have realized that they did some other things that were nice, they didn’t charge us the $50.00 per person flight change fee nor the $25.00 per bag fee. But really, leaving us there with nine minutes to spare, I wouldn’t charge us either.

Chris LoCurto

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January 5, 2011

Where My Sheep Be At?

January 5, 2011 | By | 2 Comments">2 Comments

Old Man's Sheep

Image by Kris Haamer via Flickr

My mom used to get on to us as kids whenever she said something, and we responded with a “huh?” She would be like, “huh is not a response. And besides, I know you heard me!” The truth is, we probably did. (Since she reads these, I’m sure you’ll hear an audible WOO HOO outside her office when she reads this one.) I can also promise you that in a crowd of a thousand people, we could hear our mom yelling our names. There’s just something about her voice that seemed to rise above all others. Ken Munday, one of the FPU team leaders here at our office, has a specific whistle that his wife and three girls know. I’ve seen it in action, and it’s so cool. He doesn’t even get that loud, they hear it and turn around looking for Dad.

In John 10:4-5, he wrote about how sheep hear their shepherd’s voice, he goes out in front of them, and they follow. But they never follow a stranger, in fact they will run from the voice because they don’t recognize it. People are the same way as you can see in the previous paragraph. In fact, your people are that way. If you’re leading a team, or a family, you have to make sure that they know your voice. What are you doing each day to get your flock to know which voice to follow in the midst of chaos? As a leader, it is your responsibility to guide and direct. And to the extent that you’re not, you’re failing as a leader. To the extent that you are, well, you can turn around and see that you’re succeeding. I believe it was Andy Stanley who said that, “If you turn around and nobody is following you, you’re not leading!” (Somebody correct me if it was someone else.)

The flip side of that is for the flock. You have to spend time actually knowing the voice that guides you. My dear friend Ron Cook calls it, “The discipline of listening”. Obviously the passage is a metaphor for God and how if we are truly followers of Him, we will know His voice. And it’s my responsibility to spend every day working on hearing that voice. It’s not necessarily an audible voice either. Sometimes He speaks to us through people, or a sunrise, or the stillness of a moment. But there is one thing that I am certain of, He never stops speaking to us. We just have to spend time on the discipline of listening.

What things do you do as a leader of people, or a follower of Christ?

Chris LoCurto

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January 3, 2011

Please…Say Something!

January 3, 2011 | By | One Comment">One Comment

[sixty3]

I started leading people at the age of twenty-one. Nine years ago I decided to implement a meeting with my team members that only gave them the chance to tell me what was wrong with my leadership. Yeah, give that one a try. I set up thirty minute meetings with each team member individually, which really would probably only last what…three minutes? I mean come on…how bad could it be, right? So I brought in the jewel of my team, Teresa Duke, and let her know that the time we had was just for her to tell me what was wrong with me. It wasn’t for me to say anything about her. It went something like this:

CLo – “Readyyyyyy go”

TD – “Your communication stinks”

CLo – *GULP* “uhhhhh….what’s that now?”

TD – “Your communication. We don’t know what’s going on.”

CLo – “Uhhhhhhhhh…what do you mean”

TD – “You know the thing with the stuff? (she mentioned a specific instance that I can’t recall) We don’t know anything about that.”

CLo – “Uhhhhhhh…I just assumed you knew;”

TD – “That’s the problem. You assume that we know what you know.”

CLo – “Please leave while I curl up in the corner and suck my thumb. Thanks for coming in today.”

Okay, maybe I didn’t say that last line. But I probably wanted to. It was a leadership changing moment for me. The realization that I wasn’t sharing enough information with my team to make them successful. I began that day making changes with me to help them know what was going on. What to expect. What to plan for. You see, an amazing thing happens when your team doesn’t have information, they become paralyzed. Yep, without leadership, without direction, they don’t know where to go and what to think.

If you’ve read the information on Nanny, then you know that the doctor gave us some information on how, and what percent the brain heals at. It was an important moment for us. You see, until that point, we felt like we knew nothing. We were standing there day after day wondering if at any moment she was going to open her eyes, look at us, and say, “OUCH! THAT HURT!” Or, will she wake up? And while there’s no way he could answer either of those questions, he at least gave us something that helped us face each day. She will be better than she is today, but it will take WAY longer than we were thinking. Even though that was no guarantee, it gave us information that we could use. Information to go forward with while we wait patiently for God, we’re at least not paralyzed just…waiting!

Chris LoCurto

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December 30, 2010

Southwest Airlines

December 30, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Southwest Airlines is my favorite airline! In the past ten years I have been on somewhere around four hundred Southwest planes. One year I was on one hundred planes in a one year period, so they sent me a companion pass. That meant that someone could fly anywhere with me for free anywhere I went. Pretty cool! In all of those flights, I have had maybe a dozen flights that I would consider to be late ones, more than a few minutes. And of those, only a few really late. For the most part, the Southwest team always treated me well. A couple of people have had some bad days, but compare that to the other airlines that I’ve been on, and you would see why I love Southwest!

Yesterday I posted about my Mother-in-law’s accident to keep a bunch of you up to date. We found out about it while we were on the slopes back in my hometown in Tahoe. Needless to say, we were in a bind. We really didn’t have much info, and we needed to get home quickly. Now imagine this: we are in Tahoe, needing to fly out of Reno, two days before Christmas, with six people. We had seven, but one of them, Anna Watkins, had to go home early and was actually at the airport at that time with a canceled flight due to freezing rain. She said that the airport was a mess with canceled flights.

Debbie got on the phone and called Southwest and explained the situation. They told her about how bad it was in Reno, but that they would see what they could do. A few minutes later, all six of us were booked on a flight leaving in three hours and they said they weren’t going to charge us the fees that are attached to a flight change like that. YOU’RE KIDDING ME!!! We rushed to get packed, changed out of all of our ski clothes and equipment, loaded into a transport, and headed for Reno.

Now, there’s no doubt that God was watching out for us! But it’s great when His kids work out the process. They totally didn’t have to do that. We would have understood that it was a crazy time to make a request like that. That getting us on plane that we hadn’t booked, during Christmas, in freezing rain, is one of those impossible situations for companies to help with. But this is Southwest Airlines, and they laugh at impossible! (And they love my bags!)

As a leader, your reflection is in the actions and reactions of every team member working for you. If you have a team that takes care of customers like Southwest, then you get loyal customers like Chris LoCurto. (That’s me) It is a sad day when I’m going somewhere that they don’t have the flights or schedules that I need, (like OKC from BNA!) ’cause that means I am flying a different airline with a track record of letting me down. Can Southwest take care of every issue that comes up with the tens of thousands of people who fly them every day? Heck yeah! Okay, of course not. But they sure were there when it counted for my family! That’s the true meaning of customer service! Try it today with your customers…your team members…your family! See what happens.

Chris LoCurto

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December 23, 2010

I’m Sorry, Did I Pay For That?

December 23, 2010 | By | One Comment">One Comment

Christ Ascending into Heaven

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Okay LORD, what’s the deal with sinus junk! Why did you bring me to this land overflowing with mold and…hay fever? (It was the only ‘h’ word I could think of. You know, milk and honey reference.) I never had a sinus issue in my life until I moved to Nashville. Due to the blessing of sinusitis, I had the opportunity to visit Dr. Bradley Rudge at the Walk In Medical Clinic today. We’re like old buddies now since I see him like 3 times a year to get rid of this crud. And I’m sorry to say, but I’m a terrible sick guy. I just get mad, and later…emotional. Then I need my b’ankey!

Anyway, as we were discussing the medicinal prospects to aid in my recovery, he asked where I wanted them sent. I told him which pharmacy I usually use, but I could go to the one next to him. He said, “Oh, you don’t want to go over there. There as slow as Christmas and then mean to you about it.” To which I said, “Isn’t that amazing, it’s like, ‘Aren’t I paying you?'” We laughed for a second and he said, “Yeah, aren’t we in the service business?” I replied like I do, “No doubt!” (Apparently I respond too much with this reply depending on who you ask.) I told him he gave me something to blog about. It was then that he said something that would change my day…and hopefully, my life.

He said that he lost his mother earlier this year. She went in for a routine gallbladder complication, and fifty-five hours later she was gone. Now picture this with me for a second, this is a medical professional who went to the hospital to watch his mother move on to Glory in the hands of other medical professionals. He was like, “This isn’t supposed to happen!” I sat there with my jaw on the floor not knowing what to say, except the old standby, “I’m so sorry! He said that during the fifty-five hours, she would grab his hand and say, “Help me Bradley! Help me Bradley!” but there was nothing he could do.

Come to find out, it wasn’t just a gallbladder issue. She had another problem that caused her to be septic and pass on. But then he said, “You know, I realized that that’s what people are asking of me, to help them. It’s my job. So I decided that I was going to put what my mother said to me in the hospital inside above the patient room doors where only I can see it, as a reminder of why I’m here.” I got up from the table and put my jacket back on and said the only thing I could…”Thanks!…And thanks for sharing the story!” He smiled.

I hope that I never forget that! Now that it is in writing, I hope you never do either. It’s almost Christmas, and all I can think is that my God, My LORD, my Savior heard His people calling out to Him, “Help me God! Help me God!” and He did what only He could do, He served! Not like a waitress serves coffee. Not like a cashier takes money at the store in the mall. He became flesh, He took on the sin of the world, MY SIN, and He made it so I could live forever with Him in Heaven. The funny thing is in return, He asks us to love Him with all our heart…and to love the rest of His children! So as you go through this Christmas season, and you see the opportunity to serve someone, don’t think of it as service, think of it as love. Love that was given so freely to us!

Merry Christmas!

Chris LoCurto

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December 21, 2010

I’m Just Not Doing That – Part 2

December 21, 2010 | By | One Comment">One Comment

No Way for the Sky

Image by Margnac via Flickr

So, in Part 1, I talked about making some large purchases from some suppliers that were having a hard time giving deep discounts on a product that wasn’t moving well. (Please read it first if you haven’t for context.) As I said in that post there were two things I was negotiating, unit price and shipping price, thus Part 2.

I was doing really well with both negotiations. Until I talked with this one supplier who agreed to discount the price, but not the shipping. In fact, he is who the phrase “I’m just not doing that” came from. I explained that if he discounted the shipping, I would buy more. He shook his head and said, “nope, nope, I’m not doing it!”

When I asked why, he told me that he took a look at it last year and saw that they were losing money. Now, please understand, if I’m able to get all of the other suppliers to discount their shipping deeply, it’s because they have such huge margins on the product price. Thus the phrase “losing money” is extremely relative. If I bought your stuff at cost of goods, then yeah, I’m with you. But that’s not even close to what was happening.

I continued to remind him that if he would reconsider, I would give him more of the little green things that end up in his paycheck. He still didn’t get it. So, I didn’t spend as much money with him. With that said, we had the same situation with our Publishing department a few years ago. They did a special and gave free shipping on every purchase.

That sent sales through the roof! Literally, we had to patch the roof later. So in the month of the sale, revenues were incredible. The trip up came the next month when the shipping bill hit. That caused some of the folks in the department to panic and say that the sale was a disaster since the shipping bill was four times higher than normal.

But the leader was fast on his feet to point out that the expense was not a fixed expense, it was a variable. As a sale was made, the expense was made. When you compare the margin of net profit to total expense, they still won. In other words, DO IT AGAIN!

It takes someone not being so focused on the individual problem for them to see the bigger picture. This applies in basically any problem you have. Try and get outside of it and look at all of the puzzle pieces. When you do, you can find a better way of putting it together.

Have you ever dealt with this type of situation? Share it with me.

Chris LoCurto

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December 20, 2010

I’m Just Not Doing That – Part 1

December 20, 2010 | By | No Comments">No Comments

NO WAY!

Image by tim ellis via Flickr

There are times in business when I see other business peeps make decisions that make me go, “seriously?” Now, I am absolutely positive other people say that about me. Let’s be honest….they probably don’t say that about me….more than 4 times a day.

Anyway, there’s no way that leaders are going to do everything right. But when faced with a push back on a decision you have made, one should at least listen and think through the challenge. What does it hurt? Your pride? Your ego? Okay, don’t listen then.

I was recently making a purchase of something that I was buying in bulk. I was buying it in bulk from multiple suppliers. A product that is not moving like it was before the economic crisis. Because of the current economic situation, I negotiated some serious rates to take the product off of the suppliers hands.

Not only did I negotiate the price, but I negotiated the shipping. Every time I proposed a price that I wanted, I was told that they just don’t do that price for anyone. When I asked how many cases would it take to get to that price, still the same thing. Being me, I asked again, and in frustration they would throw out a number that was well below my upper limit. I, with glee, accepted! (Not the cast. Although that would have rocked if they sung “Wrap It Up I’ll Take It” as my reply!) There are two issues that I had with this approach from the suppliers, and all of them did it.

  • First, you’re in a situation where people aren’t buying your product like they used to. DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! Don’t just sit there wondering when things are going to get better. If someone comes to you with an offer that includes, “what would it take to get to…” then think! What would it take? If you can give me a number in frustration, how much faster can you give it to me happy? If you say no, and there was a case point where you would have done the deal, but I walk out, you lose! Technically so do I, that’s why I’m stubborn and keep asking.
  • Second, why aren’t you trying to get me to buy more by offering deep discounts. Don’t just sit there and hope I buy one or two pieces, make me an offer I can’t refuse. (That was for all of my Sicilian brethren.) You might be blown away at how many more sales you get by this approach, as opposed to sitting on your thumbs waiting for the day to end.  Okay, maybe that was a little harsh….mmmmm, nah!

If you’re the owner of this business, do you have the same drab approach? If not, what are you doing to empower your team to look at it from a different side?

In part deux, I will talk about what one of them said about…well, you’ll find out. (Crazy cliff hanger, right?)

What are some situations like this that you have experienced?