Three Reasons Why You Want to Fail Fast
Posted on Monday, Aug 24, 2015 by Michael Canic

You’ve experienced failure. And you’ll experience more failure. That’s okay, as long as you learn from your experience and don’t repeat what led to failure.

So what’s the best way to fail? Fast. Failing fast beats failing slow for three reasons:

1) It Accelerates Adaptation – Organizations that learn and adapt are organizations that endure. The faster you learn what works, what doesn’t, and why, the faster you can adapt.

2) It Costs Less – When you fail fast you don’t keep throwing good money after bad. Your total cost is less. Consider your initial cost an investment in your organization’s education.

3) It’s Easier to Move On – The longer you play a losing hand the more invested you are psychologically, and the more difficult it is to fold. Failing fast avoids this trap.

Failures can be constructive. Just make sure you get the most out of them and put the least into them. Fail fast.

Your thoughts?


Six Interview Questions They'll Never Expect
Posted on Monday, Aug 17, 2015 by Michael Canic
Job interviews can be like theater. Each person has a role, prepares for it, and takes the "stage" to play it. Interviewees have become especially skilled actors, deftly anticipating questions, and providing answers that make them appear - take your pick - confident / humble / successful / experienced / driven / creative / friendly, in order to position themselves as the ideal candidate.

Shake it up! Here are six interview questions they won't anticipate. They won't tell you whether the person is the ideal candidate but they will help you evaluate the real person.

1) Describe the culture of a company in which you would be a poor fit.
2) What's the biggest misconception people have about you?
3) What early influence shaped who you have become as a person?
4) What is a little known fact that people would be surprised to learn about you?
5) How have you intentionally improved yourself over the past year?
6) Why shouldn't I hire you?

Interviews are just one part of a rigorous selection process. Make sure you're interviewing the real candidate, not just someone playing the role of the ideal candidate.

Your thoughts?

Responsible Leadership: It’s Easy to Lead if …
Posted on Monday, Aug 10, 2015 by Michael Canic

(This is the 4th and final blog in a series about John Race, mountain guide and co-owner of Northwest Mountain School, who recently led two of my nephews and me up Mt. Baker in Washington State.)

John, like every mountain guide, is a leader. Yet unlike other leaders, in his job he leads clients. And John believes it’s easy to lead if you have …

1)     The Right Passion: He had a love for climbing well before he started his business
2)     The Right Background: Over a number of years he earned his International Mountain Guide certification, attesting to his skills, knowledge and experience
3)     The Right Mindset: His number one focus is always on his clients and their needs
4)     The Right People: Although it’s challenging to pre-qualify clients, it’s much easier to lead those who are positive and capable than those who aren’t

You’re a leader. Do you have a passion for what you do? Do you have the right background? How about your mindset? And are you leading the right people?

When all is said and done, how easy is it for you to lead?

Your thoughts?


Responsible Leadership: Beware of Goals
Posted on Monday, Aug 3, 2015 by Michael Canic

(This is the 3rd in a series of blogs about John Race, mountain guide and co-owner of Northwest Mountain School, who recently led two of my nephews and me up Mt. Baker in Washington State.)

It’s easy to set goals. And it’s just as easy to set bad goals. In business, pursuing rapid growth without sufficient money or infrastructure can be fatal. When striving to climb a mountain, not having the right knowledge, equipment or capabilities can also be fatal.

The goal isn’t to set goals. It’s to set good goals.

Set Good Goals
Despite John’s efforts to pre-qualify his clients, in some cases they simply aren’t capable of reaching the summit. As a responsible leader John knows that their goal has to be subordinate to his goal: safety. And not just their physical safety, but psychological safety. John doesn’t want his clients so demoralized or beaten down that they hate their experience. They don’t have to love it – many clients are prepared for the hardships of mountain climbing – but there’s nothing to be gained from them hating it. When his clients just aren’t up to it, John’s job becomes one of helping them reorient their goals to what is achievable and challenging for them.

Conditions can Change; Goals can Change
In a dynamic environment, whether in the mountains or in business, favorable conditions can quickly turn unfavorable, and vice versa. As a result, the consequences of pursing a goal can change dramatically. John constantly monitors the weather and conditions, reassesses the potential consequences, and, when necessary, leads his clients through a decision-making process to recalibrate their goals.

On Achievement and Self-Esteem
While protecting his clients against unrealistic goals, John also isn’t a fan of trivializing goals, or the everyone-gets-a-ribbon approach to building self-esteem. In his world, self-esteem is a by-product of good goals, targeted effort, and achievement. It’s experiencing the relationship between the three that builds confidence and ultimately self-esteem.

Yes, it’s easy to set goals. But remember, the goal isn’t simply to set goals.

Next week: Responsible Leadership: It’s Easy to Lead if …

Your thoughts?


Responsible Leadership: How Hard Should You Push Your People?
Posted on Monday, Jul 27, 2015 by Michael Canic

(This is the 2nd in a series of blogs about John Race, mountain guide and co-owner of Northwest Mountain School, who recently led two of my nephews and me up Mt. Baker in Washington State.)

If the client’s goal is to summit a mountain, the guide often has to push him, even if the client doesn’t like it. Yet how hard should the guide push?

Assess: Know your people
Starting at the trailhead John begins to quickly evaluate his clients. There are three questions he wants answered: First, how capable are they in terms of fitness and skill. Second, are they aware of their capabilities? (John will often know their capabilities better than they will.) Third, how much discomfort are they willing to tolerate and for how long? Often, that will determine whether they can summit.

Monitor: Stay close to your people
John pays close attention to how his clients are performing over time. He wants to know who is struggling and why. He’ll ask them questions to track their physical and emotional states. He’s gauging if and when he should intervene, and to what extent.

Act: Push the right buttons at the right times
It’s the final push to the summit and it’s steep. The client doesn’t think he can go on. The fatigue and discomfort are simply too much. This is the moment of truth. John pauses and allows everyone to catch their breath. He then sets more immediate goals that the client is likely to buy into. “We can make it up to that ridge.” “You can go for another 20 minutes.” Many times, setting and achieving a series of smaller goals gets the client to the summit.

If he doesn’t push hard enough, the client may not achieve his goal despite having the capability. If he pushes too hard, the client may shut down or meltdown. This is when the assessing and monitoring pays off so John can make the best possible decision.

You’re a leader. Know your people, stay close to them, and be prepared to push them … hard. But not too hard.

Next week: Responsible Leadership: Beware of Goals

Your thoughts?


Responsible Leadership: Where to Start
Posted on Monday, Jul 20, 2015 by Michael Canic

Leadership entails responsibility. Some leadership roles more than others.

I recently took two of my nephews on their first mountaineering trip. I hired a guide for our climb up Mt. Baker because I wanted them to learn the skills and practices of safe climbing in a potentially dangerous environment.

John Race, internationally certified guide and co-owner of Northwest Mountain School, was more than up to the task. Over the next few weeks I’ll share some of the insights gleaned from John about leadership as a mountain guide. This week, the starting point: Trust as the foundation for responsible leadership.

Trust Trumps Obedience

On the mountain, the guide is ultimately in charge. That’s how it should be in a hazardous environment. Yet John finds that effective leadership is based more on building trust than demanding obedience. He wants his clients to trust that he is looking after their best interests and that he will help them achieve their goals.

So how does he build trust? 1) By communicating the why behind his decisions, not just the what. He wants them to understand his thinking and he wants to develop their thinking. 2) By soliciting their suggestions and being open to them. Which conveys a sense of respect and partnership. 3) By remaining firm on those things he feels are essential to safety and to achieving their goals. He wants them to know that he won’t compromise his responsibility to their safety and success.

Responsible leadership starts with relationship. And relationship starts with trust.

Next week: Responsible Leadership: How Hard to Push Your People

Your thoughts?


How to Develop Your People
Posted on Monday, Jul 13, 2015 by Michael Canic

Cameron McCormick is the only coach Jordan Spieth has ever had. Spieth, of course, is the hottest golfer on the planet having won the last two major tournaments: the Masters and the U.S. Open. (And he’s still just 21.)

When McCormick decided to become a coach he wrote to 75 top golf coaches asking to meet with them. Twenty-five replied. What he learned might surprise you.

While you might think being a golf coach is all about understanding swing mechanics and reading course layouts and conditions, there’s a lot more. What McCormick learned is how important the coach-player relationship is, and how having a deep understanding of an athlete’s motivation and psychology is essential to developing them.

So ask yourself: How often do I, as a leader, focus on the technical side of performance while undervaluing the psychological side of performance?

If you want to develop your people so they fulfill their potential, focus on both.

Your thoughts?


Business Lessons from a Rock Star
Posted on Monday, Jul 6, 2015 by Michael Canic

Sammy Hagar rocks. As the former lead singer of Van Halen – at one time the biggest rock band in the world – Hagar knows success.

But he’s never taken it for granted.

“Truthfully, I never felt secure about my music. I always thought, boy, as big as you are today, you may be history tomorrow. I’ve seen this happen time and time again.”

Lesson 1: Never Get Complacent

Early in his music career he began to invest in businesses. He opened Cabo Wabo, a restaurant bar in Cabo San Lucas, because he thought people would gravitate to a tequila bar. And he started making his own tequila when he stumbled onto the best he had ever tasted and realized most people hadn’t experienced tequila that good.

When his current wife took him to see Jimmy Buffett – not exactly Van Halen-style rock – Hagar realized he could create a lifestyle for his fans much like Buffett had done for his.

“We beach all day, eat tacos for dinner, drink tequila. I get onstage and play. That’s it.

Lesson 2: Opportunities are everywhere – if you’re open to seeing them

Hagar hired an executive from foodservice operator HMS Host to oversee his airport-based Sammy’s Beach Bar & Grill restaurants. And when he sold his tequila company to Campari (for over $90 million!) and started a Maui-based rum company, he brought in a Seagram’s executive to run it.


“My strategy for running companies successfully is to find the right guy.”

Lesson 3: Find the right people

When his mother advised him as a boy that, “If you’re going to be in the music business, then you have to save your money and invest it properly because all those guys end up alcoholics, drug addicts and broke,” Sammy paid attention.

Like I said, Sammy rocks.

Your thoughts?


This is More Important than Mindshare
Posted on Monday, Jun 29, 2015 by Michael Canic

You want to build top-of-mind awareness for your company, products and services. You want customers knowing about you and thinking of you when their time-of-need comes. You want to build mindshare.

Stop. There’s something more important.

It’s Heartshare. How customers feel about your company, products and services. And just as important, how they feel about themselves when they engage you.

When the time comes to buy, 50% of the decision making process is emotional. This, according to research involving over 30,000 people conducted by Level 5.

Don’t focus simply on building mindshare. Build heartshare. Appeal to what’s meaningful to them. What do they value? What do they care about? What is essential to who they are? Connect with the answers to those questions and now you’re building something more deep-rooted and enduring than mindshare.

You’re building heartshare.

Your thoughts?


What Personal Trainers Know About Change
Posted on Monday, Jun 22, 2015 by Michael Canic

Do you remember Brad Pitt in the movie, Troy? How about Chris Hemsworth in Thor? How did those guys get to be so muscular?

Duffy Gaver is a personal trainer who transforms celebrities’ physiques. And it’s serious business. He has no interest in toning muscles (whatever that means); he doesn’t rely on new-age nutritional products … he has a very simple philosophy. And it applies to organizations as well as it does to individuals.

Discomfort is where all of the change takes place.

Read that again and let it resonate.

There can be no change without discomfort. Embrace it. Anticipate and embrace the discomfort that is necessary for positive change. It’s what success should feel like.

Your thoughts?



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