Roy's Blog

November 12, 2018

How to start your journey to be different

It has been 9 years since I wrote the original book BE DiFFERENT or be dead; since then, at the request of my readers, I have written a number of ebooks taking a “deep dive” on several of the specific topics in my original work with particular emphasis on how to implement my ideas.

Being different; standing out from the crowd has amazing long lasting value. It attracts attention — people are generally used to blandness where everyone and everything blends in and conforms to accepted norms.
And when attention is garnered, magic can happen if mixed with what is relevant to people and what they care about.

Being different in a relevant way is truly the way to achieve sustainable advantage in whatever theatre you are in — life, career or in an organization.

The most common question I’m asked is “How do I get started?”

Journey

A basic precept: accept that there are no silver bullets in the journey to be distinctive and unique; no one single action that will carve you out of the herd and confer upon you the specialness that will last forever.
It’s a journey; a series of acts that collectively over time will slowly give you the centrifugal force needed to move you away from others who find comfort in compliance and plurality.

DiFFERENT in your life

If you want to be different in your life, your challenge is to pick something you value — your life brand — and separate yourself from everyone else.

It starts with an intimate understanding of who you are and what you value the most in your personal life.
— Are you a lover of animals?
— A passionate advocate of protecting the environment?
— A fiscally prudent aficionado who insists that budgets must be balanced?
— A grandparent who wants themselves to be indelibly etched into the memories of their grandkids?
— A world traveler who thinks about their foreign-place bucket list more than anything else?
— An immigration zealot who believes further influxes of people should be curtailed?

Being different in life doesn’t necessarily mean that you take an extreme or “pole” position on your life view; that you choose a contrarian 180-degree view to the commonly held perspective.

The pole position on any topic is often a difficult place to be as your personal ideals and beliefs can easily be seen to be extremely negative to many. The risk of being in this position is that, in your attempt or be different in a valued way, you are seen as a crusader of a minority cause which attracts only extremist attention.

Curve

And so you get people who advocate radical immigration or environmental policies viewed as a bit out of touch and insensitive by a large portion of the population.
It’s not likely that if you chose to be different as a “save the environment at any expense” person you would be seen as someone special to look closely at — as a matter of fact you would only identify yourself with the left environmental herd.

Rather than picking a pole position, being different means that you address your passion in a way no one else does; your angle is like no other so it is noticed by those around you.
Your different narrative is the result of having a broad and deep understanding of your life topic; you have studied and thought about it extensively and therefore have a unique perspective on the matter — your views on what it takes to be an amazing grandparent, for example, are based on years of practical experience creating memories for your treasures.

Decide what’s important to you. Create a compelling narrative that stands out because it is skillfully crafted from a deep understanding of your topic. Have a unique perspective. Don’t get sucked into the poles but avoid complying with the blandness of the herd.

DiFFERENT in your career

If you want to be different in your career, the first thing you have to do is have a career game plan that is highly tuned to execution in the short term.
Aspiring to be a sales executive — full stop! — doesn’t really provide a call to action that will move you relentlessly towards your goal. With this type of objective you can meander for years without knowing whether or not you are taking the actions that will (might) yield success.

Your game plan must be much more precise if it is to define the steps you need to take to move in the right direction.
“I intend to be the sales VP of XYZ company in 36 months” is a declaration that is much more meaningful; it will open up the specific steps that you need to take to achieve your goal. 
It is targeted — the VP position in the XYZ organization — and it is time bound — a 36 month window. These three variables provide the focus necessary to create an action plan that can me measured and tweaked along the way.

The final element of your game plan is to decide on what your personal brand should be — and it must be unique to make any difference.
Without defining how you are unique and incomparable in the crowd, your career path will be an uphill climb.
“Why should you be given the opportunities for the VP sales position over everyone else who want the same opportunity?” is the question your brand must answer and if you can’t define your persona so that you separate yourself you won’t be able to answer the question.

Unique person

Have a short term game plan that defines your distinctiveness and is granular enough to drive you to execute. Don’t get sucked in to lofty helium-filled goal setting.

DiFFERENT in your job

If you want to be different in the role you have been assigned, challenge yourself every moment of every day to be different — you must look at everything in front of you through a BE DiFFERENT lens.
“How can I do this differently?” must dominate your mindset and guide your actions, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Stopping to ask yourself this question is a great way to start applying the concept. It keeps the desire to be different first and foremost in your mind and deeds and will become automatic once you get into the rhythm.

This approach REALLY worked for me! Every project I did, every presentation I gave and every leadership act I took was premeditated; I designed everything I did to be different than the way the herd approached things.
It’s not difficult to do; most people tend to adopt a common approach employed by the masses — a best practise or a principle espoused by academia or a subject matter expert.  And, people tend to do the minimum amount required to get the job done.
Knowing this, I first, focused on the practise I thought others would use and then decide on another way to do it with overkill as my guide (https://www.bedifferentorbedead.com/blog/item/1039).

Ask your self the “different” question every moment of your day to embed it in your thinking and actions. Don’t get sucked into copying best practices or a herd mentality.

There’s no end point in this journey; it’s a process of doing stuff; learning from the actions you took and adjusting your way forward.

But it won’t happen unless you take steps NOW to start.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

Recent articles you might like
Leaders: your audacious goal could actually hurt people
9 reasons you should talk about “cut the CRAP”
Ideas come easy but can you really pull it off?

  • Posted 11.12.18 at 04:43 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

November 8, 2018

What deep-sea diving can teach you about trust — guest post

Trust is a fundamental part of life. It’s one of the most important values to have both in your personal life and in your work endeavours.
To gain the most insight from certain life experiences, you must be willing to entrust your skills, time and potentially your life in the hands of other people.

We all have a choice about which people we put our trust in. Choosing the right individuals to trust can be illustrated with a person learning how to scuba dive for the first time.
When you put yourself in seemingly ‘risky’ situations such as this – where you can only breathe with the aid of oxygen tanks and diving equipment – you learn first-hand about the importance of trusting the right people.

Sea diving

Trusting your diving instructor

So, what exactly does scuba diving teach you about trust?
Scuba diving is one of the most thrilling activities you can do. There’s nothing quite like diving deep underwater for the first time and discovering awe-inspiring marine life of all shapes, colours and sizes.
But the very act of going deep beneath the ocean’s surface can be terrifying for many people. The fear of the unknown or something going wrong discourages many people from the idea. But after a few minutes of breathing underwater, most first-time divers find that it’s not nearly as scary as it seems.

This is where trust comes in. Only those who place trust in other people will be brave enough to take the plunge and have an enjoyable diving experience.
After all, when you take a real diving course in the open ocean, you are entrusting your life in the care of certified professionals. You are trusting them to teach you the proper skills needed to survive.
You are trusting them to guide you and keep you safe. If you don’t put your trust in people this way, you may end up missing out on an experience of a lifetime.

By the time you have finished your first open water dive, you would have conquered your fears and overcome obstacles that you could have never imagined. You’ll feel an incredible sense of accomplishment.
The same philosophy applies to work and other personal opportunities too. You need to take a dive at some point – no matter how scary it is – to grow, learn about yourself and others, and broaden your comfort zone to enjoy new experiences.

Diving2

Trusting your diving buddy

When you join a guided scuba diving course, your divemaster will usually set you up with a diving buddy.
This way, if you get lost, stressed, or have an accident, your buddy will be there to help and support you. Whether you’re diving with your best friend or set up with a complete stranger, you will naturally learn to work with your diving buddy while underwater, trusting them to look out for your safety and well-being, and vice versa.
The unique trust you build with your diving buddy has the capability of forming an extraordinary bond. In fact, many regular diving buddies have become lifelong friends because of the connection established through trust.

A new perspective

In addition to the invaluable life skills you learn through scuba diving, you also gain a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the underwater world.
You can’t discover the full potential of the fantastic world underneath the waves when you’re stuck on the shore.

Not until you explore the ocean’s breathtaking beauty do you gain a real connection to the underwater world.
Scuba diving is truly an experience like no other, where you will gain a newfound respect for the ocean and its lethal power.
At the same time, you will comprehend the fragility of life and how important it is to stay confident yet humble in your relationships with other people.

Cloe Matheson is a freelance writer from Dunedin, New Zealand who grew up in a very tight-knit family. She is extremely close with her Mum – her greatest role model. You can discover more of Cloe’s work on Tumblr.

Cloe

  • Posted 11.8.18 at 04:06 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

November 5, 2018

Leaders: how your audacious goal can actually hurt people

The “grand plan” is typically developed by trying to maximize the value created for shareholders. Among a number of options to consider; the one that, for example, produces — on paper — the greatest net present value (NPV) typically gets the nod. Revenues less expenses discounted by the cost of money generally controls the decision making outcome.

There are other factors, however, that should be given serious consideration in the chosen direction. A paper result is simply that; it depends completely on the assumptions being met.

If projected customer sales are achieved and if cost of sales targets are hit and if period expenses are controlled, the expected results are plan achieved.

Ifs

A lot of if’s

The if’s are, of course, controlled by how employees behave as they try to execute the plan. If they behave exactly as defined in the plan, the expected results are delivered.
And you can pay yourself on the back for having a brilliant goal.

But how often does that happen? How often do people do what you expect them to?

I’ve never seen it in over 33 years as an executive leader.

People NEVER behave the way you expect; if their needs, wants and desires are not incorporated into the grand plan, the plan is doomed to failure.

The paper planning exercise may be a meaningful beginning but it only describes a theoretical possibility and nothing more.

The question every single person asks is “How does the grand plan affect me?”
They rarely have difficulty understanding the need for the plan — decreasing market share requires pricing action; eroding margins required cost reductions; additional revenue requires entering new markets — but at the end of the day it all comes down to how they will be personally affected by it.

Impact me

What does it mean to their job — will they still have one? Will they have to change location and move to another city? What specific impact will it have on their daily work conditions — will they have new hours or will they have a new work station?

A working draft

Given the very real concern employees have over change, it is absolutely critical for a leader to socialize their plan with the people who are expected to act on it and deliver. And position the plan as a working draft to people to show that you are open to wanting to share its intent and more importantly obtain their input on will it will work and if not, what has to change so that it will.

Surprisingly, you might discover that your plan is perceived to hurt the very people you need to support and implement it. It is an unattended consequence, of course, — no leader willingly introduces change to intentionally hurt their employees — but it is a tipping point that must be dealt with.

If people feel they are being put at risk they will shut down and do whatever they can to NOT execute it.

And it will fail notwithstanding its intent.

So, after various internal stakeholder teams have declared what must change, the plan must be revised PERIOD!

As a leader you really only have two choices: one, to NOT accept the input received and stay with the original plan — and not only fall short of the plan’s purpose but also turn off employees who believed that since you asked for their comments you would actually listen to them.
Or two, modify the plan as a compromise given the input provided — and achieve the results of your imperfect version of the plan.

Revise

I know that many leaders would say that their job is to define expected outcomes and then “hand it down” to the organization to do it.
It’s great in theory, but if people who have to pour their heart and soul into delivery don’t believe in it because they spot barriers to its success, why try and force it?

A worthless plan

Quite frankly I could care less about a plan that can’t be executed regardless how brilliant the planners think it is; it has zero value to any stakeholder.

I have seen plans to consolidate multiple call centers — back in the day when we believed them to be vital to our growth agenda and refused to outsource them to remote parts of the world where labour costs were lower — fail miserably because employees’ concerns were not addressed to their satisfaction.

In this case many people had to change work locations while others lost their role and had to be trained for other positions.
Little surprise that the consolidation plan was not fully supported; implementation fell short of expectations and customer satisfaction fell.

Of course there are times when, despite the fact that a plan is modified to minimize the adverse impacts it has on people, some individuals still get hurt.
And for “the greater good” the plan proceeds without unanimous support — it’s virtually impossible to get 100% buy-in on anything.

Impossible

Honesty and support

In such instances the leader should:
—  make as much information available on the plan as possible: what the change is and why the action is being taken.
— provide lifeline support for those individuals negatively impacted.
— prioritize training efforts for any people displaced by the plan.
— provide personal services to anyone deciding to exit the company.

Standout leaders aren’t completely infatuated with a plan to enhance the value of their organization; they are equally concerned with how the plan affects people.

Their challenge is to balance the needs of all stakeholders to optimize the benefits for all.

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead book series

Recent articles you might like
9 reasons you should talk about “cut the CRAP”
Ideas come easy but can you really pull it off?
If you can’t reason with people attack their heart

 

 

 

 

  • Posted 11.5.18 at 03:41 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink

October 29, 2018

9 reasons you should talk about “cut the CRAP”

The world around us is filled with CRAP.

CRAP describes the stuff that gets in the way of getting things done; obstructions — the grunge as Tom Peters
refers to it
— that impedes progress towards a stated goal.

In business, CRAP could be projects and programs that are no longer relevant given the new strategic game plan developed by the organization.
For example, if the new marketing focus were shifted from consumers to businesses, customer communications and social media programs targeted at the consumer segment would fall into the CRAP category and could be scrapped or at least significantly reduced.

In our personal life, CRAP could be the distractions and red herring that cost us progress towards our ultimate career or life goals.
For example, if your career ambition were in business and you were tempted to take an extended vacation just after graduation, the vacation time you intend to take that could be spent on advancing your career could fit the CRAP definition.
Or chasing many potential opportunities rather than focusing on a selected few that were closely aligned with your desired end game is a CRAP activity.

Too much

CRAP is a critical ingredient in the progress equation and it gets relatively little attention as compared to the new stuff that should be done — doing new stuff is more sexy than eliminating old stuff.

CRAP is vital to our growth ambitions and should be talked about for these reasons.

No time

There is insufficient time available to both take on new things and continue to do current things. Everyone has limited bandwidth and a sharp laser-like focus is essential to success.
The problem is that we are comfortable doing yesterday’s tasks and so we want to perpetuate them; the prospect of taking on something new is risky and uncomfortable.

Make room

Old stuff needs to go and make room for new stuff; it’s the only way we can stay fresh and relevant given the changing times we are in. And we don’t have enough resources do do both the old AND the new.
Governments should heed this and stop throwing money at old programs — like the medical system — expecting that improvements will miraculously appear. There comes a time when you need to reinvent the old; blow it up and start with a clean sheet to create something new.

The right choices

People need to make the right choices. Parents constantly hound their kids about making healthy food choices, for example, and avoid stuff that is harmful to them.
Ironically, some of these parents go to their job the next day and continue to hold on to the comfortable ways of the past rather than shedding the “unhealthy”.

Baggage

New people; new skills

Organizations must constantly refresh themselves with people who possess the new skills and competencies necessary to survive and thrive in a new uncertain context. Releasing or retraining people who are busy doing CRAP is a good way to ensure a good flow of new employee skill sets.

No money

Financially, no one can afford to take on new stuff while at the same time perpetuating projects — however comfortable — that might have been necessary yesterday but not today.
There are no money pits with infinite resources available that enable this behaviour and it needs to stop.

Leadership

The whole concept of cutting CRAP is a powerful lesson on leadership.
I would estimate that over 80% of leadership strategy teaching goes to topics such as these: how to develop new customer solutions, how to decide which new market segment represents the best growth potential and which new partner should be acquired to deliver new sales capabilities.
Not much time if any is devoted to the fact that stopping stuff is just as strategic as starting stuff, and leaders need to pay attention to this if their organizations are to be both effective and efficient.

Paying for new things

Cutting CRAP is an efficient way to fund new activities. Stop doing a project that doesn’t contribute to the way forward and cut the funding for it.
Expenses are reduced and are available to reallocate to the incremental activities that must be undertaken.
As president of a data and internet organization, I was constantly asked for dollars that were not budgeted to fund new projects. My answer was always the same: “Stop doing something no longer needed given our new direction, achieve the savings and reallocate them to the new project. There are no added funds for you.”
Over time, these requests dwindled away and CRAP elimination behaviour took their place.

Excess

The environment

CRAP is an environmental issue. Our business and personal landscapes are too cluttered; there is simply too much waste around us and we need to get better at recycling the old for the new.
Let’s extend the conversation from landfills and pipelines to outdated systems in organizations and unproductive noise that clutters our personal lives.

Inertia

Inertia is a killer and CRAP is the genesis. It’s the force that propels us along a certain course and repels interventions that might change it.
CRAP is the embodiment of inertia that must be overcome in order to achieve a different purpose.
Fighting inertia from the past is arguably THE most critical thing to overcome if we are to change.
If CRAP is not dealt with, we will be stuck in a world with no future.

Refresh. Renew. Regenerate.

Cut the CRAP!

Cheers,
Roy

Check out my BE DiFFERENT or be dead Book Series
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Recent articles you might like
But can you really pull it off?
If you can’t reason with people attack their heart
How to be relevant to people around you

  • Posted 10.29.18 at 04:58 am by Roy Osing
  • Permalink