Leadership Libations

September 15, 2009

Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 8:56 am

I had the good fortune to attend the Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati inaugural meeting this morning. AND I say good fortune even though I was up until 1am watching Monday Night Football Week 1 and had to pick up bagels and coffee at 615!!!!

And what an event it was! Meeting at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, there were well over 60 attendee’s at today’s event! And what a great crowd it was with a diverse cross section of leaders from Greater Cincinnati. Throw on top of that the meeting got rolling at 7:30 and there was less than 30 days from announcement to event!

A little bit about the Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati group for those who aren’t aware of the group. The group was formed on Linkedin on July 27th, 50 short days ago. In that time, 160 Linkedin members have joined the group – that at time was a concept without definition, vision, or even direction. In those mere 50 days, the group has been formed, created a passionate board, a vision (after much much discussion – Trust me!), and held a meeting with well over 60 attendees! Not too bad if you ask me! To say there is passion and energy about this topic would be the understatement of the year!

So, what is Authentic Leadership? The Board for the Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati has defined it as:

Authentic Leadership is driven by a motivation to positively impact people and results. It requires transparency, intentional actions and the building of effective relationships in order to help others reach their greatest potential.

The group has defined their purpose: To Develop, Support, Encourage, and Promote Authentic Leadership.

IMG00073The meat of today’s meeting involved a round-table of three Cincinnati business leaders:

John Baumann, President & CEO of AMPAC
Ray Attiyah, Founder and CIO of Definity Partners
Tom Sutton, Owner /Operator of Chick-fil-A

They were discussing their leadership inspiration and how their personal compass leads their leadership style and their organizations. The format involved some predefined questions, but included ample Q&A time with the attendee’s. The setting allowed to see these leaders up close and in a very personal settings as they shared thoughts around leadership, their leadership style, their personal development, and what has helped form them.

A couple of the great messages I took away from the event:

On Leadership during these economic times:
“During these tough economic times, this is where leaders shine! Be relevant, be bold, and take action” – Ray Attiyah
“Being a partner in good times is easy, being a partner in a crisis is critical. This is when leaders show up” – John Baumann
“We are refusing to participate in the recession. We control our destiny. Now is the time to get engaged and give” – Tom Sutton

Where are you finding your hope from during these times:
“Past successes. Our group went thru 9/11, what did we do then. Go back to prior successes” – Ray A
“I get a lot of inspiration from reading great books about great people. I can follow the guy who went before me and were successful.” Tom S
“I cannot imagine anything other than hope. I’m not willing to make that the mindset of my organization.” John B

What do you wish you had done better or differently:
“I would be more attentive and listen closer to my authorities. Whether it is god-given authority in my parents, or listening to the Cathy family. My leadership is driven from being a better follower.” Tom S
“RELAX! Relax and have more fun. A lot of my day is to work myself out of a job. The more confidence I show in them, the more they enjoy their job.” John B
“Not try to do everything. Would have learned to set a few priorities, make them bold, and do them with excellence.” Ray A

How do you handle negativity/negative people:
“We have a no gossip policy, that is grounds for termination and in our policy manual. If you don’t have something nice/good to say, don’t say it. Tom S
“We don’t change people, we provide environments for people to change.” John B
“There is often a difference between negative people’s performance and what they say.” Ray A

In all, a fantastic first event. Great Q&A, Great panel willing to share their insights, Great opportunity to network with Authentic Leaders in Cincinnati! If you were there, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, if you missed it, I hope this gave you some flavor of the event and perhaps energized you to attend future events.

The Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati group plans to hold these events quarterly. If you are interested in hearing more, you can contact me, or join the group on Linkedin – Authentic Leadership in Cincinnati.

Special acknowledgement to the visionary behind this group and the Founder Erin Schreyer and the other board members I have the good fortune to serve with – Michelle Beckham-Corbin, Kip Backscheider, Mike Weppler, Craig Schweiger, Elaine Suess, Drew Forte and Terry Johnson.


September 7, 2009

Twitter and Social Media…..Just a Fad

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 2:51 pm

    “Let’s face it — Twitter is a fad. It has all the attributes of a fad, including the one that people like me don’t get its appeal.”
    Tom Davenport – The Next Big Thing – 4/9/09

I’m still laughing over this quote. It’s very reminiscent of political chatter you’ll hear on MSNBC or Fox nighttime. The declaration and dismissal of something that “I don’t get”! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really care what you had for breakfast or that it’s a bad hair day. But, I will tell you that I have met some amazing people on Twitter. I have found people that share the same interests that I do and have learned from some thought leaders. As I read the quote above, I thought back on other revolutionary naysayers and their need to show their brilliance….only to be violently mistaken. Silent1

    Who the Hell wants to hear actors talk?

    HM Warner, co-founder Warner Brothers, 1927

Who in the hell would want to hear actors talk. Granted, don’t think Arnold spoke during the original Terminator, but seriously can you imagine movies or TV without sound? But this great mind who created one of the most famous companies of an entire genre fought what he “didn’t get”.

    The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad

    Bank President speaking with Henry Ford’s Lawyer – Michigan Savings Bank – 1903

silent2Gosh….can you imagine going thru Starbucks drive through on a horse? Would they call them horse-thru’s? Imagine the clean-up. Where do you put your venti latte? Imagine balancing the holders. Can you imagine life without the car. Obviously, people like him did not “get it”.

    I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people,
    and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.

    Editor in Charge of Business Books – Prentice Hall – 1957

Ok, so data processing is a fad. I get that. This whole automated computer thing…..whew…thank goodness that never took hold! Prentice Hall obviously got it…..they’ve narrowed to education….and soon will pass. Yep, just a fad!

I don’t know Tom Davenport and I am sure he’s intellectually gifted and my superior by light years. I just find it interesting to watch the rush of experts to turn social media and things that these experts “don’t get” into the equivalent of Pet Rocks and Chia Pets.

Keep the following in mind:
1. 1 out of 8 couples married last year met via social media
2. Years to Reach 50 million users:
a. Radio – 38 years
b. TV – 13 years
c. Internet – 4 years
d. Facebook – 100 million users in 9 months
Gang, it’s changing fast
3. Hulu went from 60 Million streams in 4/08 – to 370 million streams in 4/09
4. Social media is the number 1 activity on the web (yes passing xxx activity)
Yes, it might be a fad……but what if it’s more than that? Are you ready or do you prefer to put your head in the sand because you just don’t “get it”????

August 31, 2009

A Reunion of Different Sorts

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 3:05 pm

Ok, here I go aging myself again. I keep trying to convince myself I am young, then I proceed to write about all these things that show my age. But, what the heck, the topic is on my mind and maybe I am old and just need to deal with it!

Last week, I had the privilege of participating in a “reunion” of sorts. Reunions seem like much less of a big deal in these days of Facebook, Classmates, and Linkedin. New ways to connect are cropping up by the day, heck, I am probably more connected to many former classmates than I was when we were classmates – be it in High School or at UGA.

This was a different type of reunion. This golf outing brought together generations of P&G Customer pg_logo_ilBusiness Development (Sales to those of you keeping score at home) professionals. In attendance were current Proctoids, retiree’s, and those of us who after many years working at P&G went onto pursue a career outside the mother ship.

After spending 20 years of my life working around the globe with P&Ger’s, you forget the number of great people that you have had the privilege of working with over those years. Monday’s event gave us an opportunity to get reunited with these great people, share stories, reconnect, and even make a few new friends whose path we might never have crossed, but who shared similar values, stories, and friendships. There were many things that invigorated, inspired, and surprised me. I share them with you here as a reminder to me and perhaps inspiration to those who happen to read my thoughts.

1. It’s the PEOPLE that make work fun – This event was more family reunion than business reunion. The high-fives, man-hugs, and friendly ribbing broke out the minute everyone arrived. This very competitive group of folks was more interested in connecting than practicing on the driving range and putting greens. Funny seeing the die-hard golfers never quite making it to the range because they found someone who they hadn’t seen and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to connect.
Rivers Bend
2. It’s easy to work and enjoy people who share VALUES and PASSION – As we mingled after the round of golf, the stories and common experiences brought back great memories and renewed friendships. Be it war stories from China, coffee peddler tales, or leadership lessons, all of these stories were built on shared values and experiences.

3. ENERGY is contagious – The Buzz around the golf carts before the event started (they couldn’t quiet the group for the announcements), the cheering and jeering on the course, and the frenetic hum at the 19th hole had a special feeling. The energy was contagious. This group had a cross section of people whom had often shared heated debates, battled over choices, and yes competed for promotions carried on a energizing interaction. At the end of the day, those shared values and respect for one another created an energy that is hard to describe, but one that every organization would be envious of and should aspire to duplicate.

PEOPLE, VALUES, PASSION, and ENERGY these four words sum up my experience on that Monday and remind me how blessed I was to have this group surround me in my formative years, challenge me as I developed as a leader, and support me as I pursued the next phases of my life – marriage, expatriate life, children, and leaving the P&G nest to pursue the future.

What a special group I have had the good fortune to call my friends! What a special event! And last but likely least….I actually played a decent round of golf! I can’t wait until next year!

Special Thanks to Marty Monserez for setting this up and creating an annual can’t miss event!

August 23, 2009

GO FOR IT!!!!!!!!!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 3:01 pm

Seriously, how can there be so much energy in wanting a 39 year old man to not pursue his vocation? Someone who has skills that are in the top 1%, has the mental make-up, the passion, the desire to be at the top of their profession. Laughing as I watch the sports world go all ga-ga over Brett Farve signing with the Vikings. All the pundits bashing Brett Farve over his legacy, his loyalty, his indecision, and his passion, it’s easy to attack those who can do what we can’t. questions1219

I laugh as I watch all this. Who amongst us, at the top of our game, wouldn’t want to keep playing.

I mean seriously, if you’re the leader of an organization, just retired. And you get approached by a group who needs your insights and talents to take them to the next step. Are you seriously going to say, “No, sorry, the pundits think I should retire” Seriously?

Or maybe, you’re the sales manager at the top of your game. You’ve delivered breakthrough sales results for years. You decide to take a break. Rest for awhile. Retire. But, then the proposition comes along selling a breakout software proposition. Are you telling me that you are going to walk away?

Perhaps, you’re the CFO with the mostest, doing whatever CFO’s do. You retire your abacus and your calculator. But all of a sudden a global billion dollar business needs your wisdom. A challenge you have never faced before. Your answer is going to be…I retired??? Seriously?

Granted, the man has wrestled with his future, but you are telling me that none of us has asked questions?

I guess the questions I would ask the man….and ask you as you consider your future.

1. Are you passionate about your pursuit?
Passion and energy has created more success….or caused more failure than any of us will ever understand. We’ve all seen that kid, with amazing talent, who hates the sport they excel in. As much as we all want them to succeed, if they just don’t love it, if it becomes a pain, not a passion, it just doesn’t matter. Farve, love or hate him, accuse him of ego and self-centeredness, bottom line, he is passionate. He loves the game. Loves to play it. Make sure you have that passion about your pursuits!
2. Are you doing this for the right reason?
I am doing this for…..____ You fill in the blank. My kids, my wife, my family, or my friends. Are you doing it for the right reason. If you are trying to answer the sports critics, the papers, your friends, or even your family….you are missing the key player. Are you doing this for you? Your passion? Yourself? If you are worried about others and not you, then you will likely fail. Be like Farve, do it for you and tune out the voices out there who are fighting it.
3. Are you willing to deal with the worst thing that can happen?
Ok, So Brett comes back out of retirement. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Sully his legacy? Get injured? Streak of continuous games stops? Here we have an all-pro, heck a Hall of Fame QB who believes he has it. Has the ability to win it all. That’s what he’s playing for. It’s his legacy. Are you balancing your choices and risks?

We all have our opinions….but shouldn’t we be the owner of our risks, choices, and chances. Don’t we all have something to learn from Brett’s desire to take a risk????

#4 Succeed or FailBrettFavreVikings


August 17, 2009

Home From Camp

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 4:01 pm

The cat’s out of my office, the house phone has started to ring incessantly, and chaos has taken over the house again!

For those who I torture with my personal life, you know that Friday marked the return of my two daughters (Ellie & Addie) from summer camp. On Sunday, July 19th, I took both of my little princesses to the airport at 5am to put them on a plane to Minneapolis to head off to summer camp. This four week excursion to the wild’s of Wisconsin has become an annual ritual for the girls. Four weeks of crafts, skiing, and chocolate fights – more activities than one can imagine – all squeezed into acres and acres of woods complete with dogs, lakes, ducks, games and baby chicks. Did I mention it is an all girls camp – YEAH!!!! – over 200 girls spending their summers together.

While we miss them dearly, I can tell you with the internet and digital photo’s it’s easy to keep up with them, even if they aren’t the best about writing! My oldest actually used all her stamps this year, while her younger sister wasn’t quite as diligent – about writing or even opening the letters she received!

So, today, I picked the girls up from the airport. The silence and quiet that had filled the drive to the airport and the time in the Crown Room waiting for them to arrive was shattered by a cacophony of stories of camp, new friends made, explanations of different things seen in pictures, and a pair of excited and very tired girls who were up late the night before. The energy and enthusiasm is engulfing and pretty overwhelming, so much fun to be the one who meets them at the airport.

So, tonight I sit back and reflect on the reunion. Each year when they return, the girls have grown. They are different– for the better – from their experience. Things I noticed this year:

    Overcoming fear and trying something new

Addie Climb 5My youngest – to say she is a bit of a chicken is an insult to chicken everywhere! – is not known for her spirit of adventure. She avoids roller coaster’s at all cost and actively avoids anything that is even close to being adventurous. So, imagine the shock when opening the camp’s webpage halfway thru camp, seeing her with rock climbing outfit on and actually climbing up the wall? This was followed by a letter talking about her skiing experience. The smile on her face in the pictures said a lot. The glow on her face as she told me about it on our walk to baggage claim was incredible. Not only had she tackled her fear, but she found that something that had scared her so much had been fun and she looked forward to doing it again!

    Networking and getting to really know people

This is Ellie’s third year at camp and Addie’s 2nd. But new girls come into camp every year. As we started the drive from the airport, I heard of about Addie’s new friend from California and the sister’s from Colorado. Ellie told me about her new house mate from St Louis and her family. The camp does a wonderful job of emphasizing the importance of getting to know people for who they are not what they have. They teach the girls to be supportive and how to handle peer pressure and bullying. They learn this from girls they can relate too vs. parents and teachers who might not have the same impact with them.

    Learning the importance of practice in improving yourself

Ellie Skiing
My oldest, has become quite the water skier at camp. This year she mastered skiing on one ski and almost pulled off her 360’. She’s latched onto that as her favorite camp activity and has gotten very good. The pride as she told me about the ski show the last day at camp was awesome. But more awesome that that was as she shared it, she told me about her practice – how she learned new things – how that practice was what made her good. In Gladwell’s latest book, he talked about how it takes 10000 hours to become an expert in any endeavor. I don’t know that Ellie will do that with skiing, but I do know she has new found respect for the importance of practice that leads up to your actual performance.

    Sisters and friendship

I’m blessed that both the girls love to go there and grow together. When they’re home together, they do what any siblings do – the older bosses and the younger rebels against that bossiness. Drop them into a camp 500 miles from home and a transformation happens. During one session, they share with the other girls at camp what it means to have your sister in camp with you. Remembering why that person who you live with is special pays huge dividends long after camp wears out and brings them closer together — something I really noticed when they returned this year.

Yes, UGA (our cat) is following the girls around and out of my office. Yes, The phone is ringing as the girls friends are all calling to get them to go to the pool, or Kings Island, or come to our house. Yes, chaos is reigning supreme as the girls explore their remodeled bedrooms, have friends over, and do what girls do talk-talk-talk! Yes, camp is over and the girls are home! YES! It’s nice that things are back to normal! YES!!!!!!!

August 10, 2009

Sudoku and Business, More in Common Than You Think!

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 3:05 pm

All right. I’m ready to admit it. I am addicted to Sudoku’s. As I sat working on my Blog posting this week, the temptation of the Friday Sudoku is too much for my will. Don’t get me wrong, I can easily walk away from Sudoku’s on Monday, Tuesday, and even usually Wednesday. But, once Thursday and Friday’s roll around the Sudoku starts calling106599_f260 out to me. Calling my name!
Interesting news, presentations, and even the keyboard is set down for a pen and the puzzle.

(And yes I said pen, one should only put their “final answer” down when they are ready to deal with the consequences of a wrong answer.)

So, as I wrestled with the puzzle, I started to reflect on this obsession. Ok, also was wondering whether there wasn’t a blog post in this obsession.

When did it all begin – that is the easy part. I’ve taken flights around the globe, set foot on the ground in over 30 countries and more airports than I can imagine. I’ve flown with Delta, Northwest, United, American, US Air, Southwest, Cathay Pacific, Atalia, Aeroflot, Malaysia, Thai, Dragon, China (All Directions –Southern, Northern, Eastern, Southwest), Shanghai, and Singapore Airlines (the best) to name a few. But the obsession finds its roots in Omaha Nebraska. You see, when I was leading the division of a mid-cap company, there was a monthly ritual where  we traveled in for monthly financials. These financials usually occurred on Thursday and led to a late-Thursday/early-Friday departure from Omaha. The Omaha airport has a few redeeming traits, can’t really come up with them off the top of my head, but the beer is cold. But one thing you can count on in Omaha, be it spring, summer, winter, and fall are flight delays. Mix in a little brain damage from the meetings and a USA Today….and abracadabra you have a Sudoku addiction!

So, does this addiction do anything to make me a better leader? I like to think it does and here is why:

Abstract thinking vs. Linear Progression!

You can do the early week Sudoku’s using a very linear approach. But as the end of the week arrives, straight line strategies will leave you frustrated. Instead of using the brute force method, to solve these you have to let the puzzle develop. You have to be willing to set aside one set of numbers and explore in a different arena. Dead ends aren’t always dead – problems aren’t unsolvable – you just need to look at it differently and stop trying to force a solution.

Sudoku’s are lost just like sales are lost!

By the time you realize that you have made a mistake and “lost” the battle with the puzzle it is too late. You rarely see the mistake you made within putting another number or two into the puzzle. If you do, you can often salvage the problem. No, with tough Sudoku’s by the time you realize there is an issue the puzzle is too far gone. I would tell you that this parallel’s a sale. You almost never lose the sale when the NO comes down. In fact, you lost it somewhere along the way. A wrong step, not hearing a need, misunderstanding the value of your product and service, or missing a critical player in the decision process, like Sudoku’s if you’re lucky you might see the error near when it happens. If not, the foundation for the loss was laid a long time ago.

Post-Mortem’s when we fail!

On the rare occasion (Slight attempt at humor) that I am unable to successfully complete a Sudoku, the first thing I do is figure out where I went wrong. What assumption did I make? What did I think I saw? What leap of faith did I make? Of course the 2nd thing I do is scribble the whole page up in anger, but not until I have reviewed. In business, we need to make sure we do the same thing. Somewhere our proposition didn’t meet the need of our target. It’s rarely what we hear when we lose the business, but some mis-match earlier in the decision process.

Post-Mortem’s when we succeed!

Sudoku’s have patterns. Thursday’s in the USA Today have some flows and patterns that are different than Fridays. Local papers have their own little nuances. When I travel, I love to pick up those papers and learn new patterns as there might be reapplication in other puzzles. This is true in business. We often do post-mortems on why someone didn’t buy our proposition. I would suggest that you can learn as much from someone who does buy your proposition. Why did they buy you, your company, and your product or service? If you know that, think of the application to other potential customers who might have similar needs. We usually High-Five the deal, but do we understand – truly understand – why the deal was done!

In case you wondering, the Sudoku was a success. Finished in just under 30 minutes over lunch. The 2’s and 9’s were rare, but if you were patient they came too you.


Today’s puzzle Learning – Patience truly is a virtue, let it come to you!

August 3, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 3:02 pm

“We need to be a retailer” screamed the Great Wizard CEO from the great Screen above. “Our retailers are taking advantage of us. They are making all the money! They are stealing from us, stealing our brand, stealing our profits.  We will only be successful if we take our own fate into our own hands!” The Wizard exclaimed in full Dolby Stereo and surround sound. The nodding heads of his citizenry bobbing up and down. Oz

Dorothy, a young intern, surely no more than 22 or 23 raised her hand. The seasoned citizens of oz all looked on in horrified fear, many trying to step in front of the young intern before the Wizard saw her hand. But to no avail. The Great Wizard CEO looked at this young lady, and with a wry smile “What is on your mind young lady?”

The intern – reflecting back to her orientation day and remembering the Great Wizard asking for honest feedback – looked at the wizard and said “But doesn’t retailing require different skills than being a branded manufacturer?” She went on “Don’t you need skilled sales people, a great location, a compelling proposition, and a superb presentation just too name a few? In business school, we learned that more than 70% of retailers fail in their first year, so isn’t this outside of our core competencies?”

The crowd was aghast. No one talked to the Wizard this way. Well, no one talked to him that way and made it to the next day.

Before the wizard could speak, Mike – the head of Manufacturing – spoke up – “Miss, we make the finest product. The Wizard requires that we have make the finest product with no defects. We will definitely succeed”. The head of Human Resources, Alexa, spoke up right behind, “We hire only the best. The Wizard requires that we be the best at hiring! We will definitely succeed!” Tim the Trainer screamed out before Alexa even finished her final thought!  “And we have taught those retailers everything they need to know. We’ll beat them at their own game! The Wizard expects our training to be better. We will definitely succeed!” And so it went with all of the Wizard’s team chanting the mantra “We will definitely succeed!” By now, the Wizard’s underlings were frothing and closing in around the young lady.

oz2As the crowd closed in Dorothy thought to herself…..I knew I should have brought Toto to work with me today!

Leadership Learning:

  1. Youth’s Good Eyesight – make sure you and your team aren’t silencing dissent, sometimes the most junior in your organization – the ones with the freshest eyes – see things more clearly!
  2. Read Your Customers Emails, Not Your Press Clippings – There is a fine line between pride in workmanship and insular delusion. A slogan, wall sign, or chant don’t make it true!
  3. Require Vision and Reward Dissent From Your Functional Leaders – Mistakes, if you learn from them, are a part of business. Often the biggest mistake is key players not challenging the basic the idea, innovation, or  initiative while it is on the drawing board. Demand dissent from those around you, embrace the challenge, if the idea is valid, it will survive!

July 27, 2009

3rd Graders, Sales Fundamentals, and Starburst

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 3:52 pm

My Number Two Son and I were reflecting this weekend about his 3rd grade school year.  One subject he brought up – Career Day – made me laugh and got me thinking about the event. For all those parents out there, I am sure you can relate. The note (well email) home to the parents informing them of this year’s career day for his 3rd grade class and of course my wife’s reply – cc’ing me – that “Nick’s father would be glad to help out!”

Career Day’s – for those who don’t know – fall towards the end of the school year as the teacher’s are looking for something to fill those last few weeks of school. Guess you could say I was the Oreo Creme Fill between the standardized achievement tests and year end movie days. Career days bring back memories of Firemen with their trucks, veterinarians with pets, and airline pilots. With this in mind, I started to mull how I was going to make strategy, tactics, and sales fundamental’s interesting to a classroom full of 3rd graders. Clients I had been working with range from tire makers to sales education and development to brand protection solution providers. Not exactly something that a group of 9 and 10 year olds were going to be jazzed to hear more about. Forget diving them deep into the nitty gritty of DPSM (Distribution-Pricing-Shelving-Merchandising). As the day approached, my casual agreement a few months back was rapidly looking like a bad call. Mind you, speaking in front of people is not something that I fear…some would argue I relish it in fact.

But, this was no ordinary audience! It was 3rd graders. So, how do I make this all seem interesting to them?

So, the day arrived and I arrived for my 9am time slot. I strolled down the hall and entered my son’s classroom. The 20 classmates in his class all looked at me as the teacher got their attention and introduced me. As I staked out a corner of the erasable board to start a brief intro on Strategy and Tactics I could already feel the eyes rolling in the back on these munchkins heads. After insuring they were all properly bored, it was time to breakout the secret weapon to the lesson.

Not surprising, but when you pull a pack of Starburst out of your pocket, 3rd graders take notice.

In my bag of tricks, I had different flavors and size packages. For the next 30 minutes 3rd graders helped me to understand why Starburst has:

StarburstDifferent Sizes – “How much money you can spend!” “When/where you are going to eat them!” “Enough to share with others!”

Different Flavors – “People have different tastes” “Easier to find in the store” “Share the ones you don’t like!!!”

Different Places I could buy them – “Theaters!” “Wal-Mart!” “BP Station” “Target” “Walgreens” “Grocery Store” “Little League Guy!”

We talked about getting the Right Product in the Right Place for the Right Price at the Right Time and these kids generated energy, ideas, and insights that would make any Sales Leader proud. Yes, the Shareable candy brought life to this room —- in fact, maybe a little too much as on more than one occasion a teacher’s head showed up outside to see what the commotion was all about.

Now we can all debate the exactness of the lesson, but I can tell you the 20 thank you notes  that highlighted key points of getting the Right Product at the Right Place for the Right Price at the Right Time told me that 3rd graders are very capable of understanding, articulating, and explaining Sales Fundamentals. A nice reminder on the importance of providing clear guidance, generating creative thinking, and executing with excellence.

July 20, 2009

The Open and Leadership Lessons

Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 5:14 pm

I know that many view it as “bad form” to use sports analogies and examples in a business setting. But watching the British Open this weekend, I can’t help myself watch how some of the most talented golfers in the world tackle the uncertainties and challenges of Links Golf. For the non-golfers’ out there, simply put The Open (the British was dropped many moons ago to remind all of us American’s that the game originated and has its roots across the pond) is different than any other major tournament in the sport. The golfers are challenged with the elements, fortune, and the mindset to deal with it all making the game very different and the skills to succeed very different from the game that many of us play on our weekends.

Creativity and seeing another way

At The Open, sometimes even the best shots are rewarded with a bad bounce or roll, ending up in a treacherousBunkers bunker. Unlike the pleasant sand traps most American courses have, allowing you to splash out and move on. The craters on the links often present a challenge to just getting the ball out. Over the weekend, golfers with one leg in the trap and one knee outside, players playing backwards, opening club faces where you wonder how they are going to hit were all the norm. Rather than get frustrated with a bad hop, these professionals look for a different way.

How many hurdles and bumps do you and your team get frozen in place by? Are you looking for ways to get out of the bunker or are you lamenting that you are in the bunker? Are there better ways out of the bunker than a straight line?

When the elements turn against you, turn with them

This year’s open was relatively calm on the weather front. Only one day of significant wind and weather created a fairly mild open. That said, the players who succeed at the open learn to play the elements. In fact, they not only play the elements they turn the elements into an advantage. Using the wind and the rain to their advantage and turning the lemons into lemonade!

Does your team look at the competitive landscape and freeze if there is a little wind and rain? Do your business plans count on Sunny days and perfect weather for you to succeed? Have you taught your team to “play the wind” taking a challenge and turning it into an advantage?

Take your lumps and move on

GrassEven the greatest players in the game make mistakes. Links golf can often punish the smallest mistakes with knee-high grass suffocating your ball, grabbing your golf club. So, even the strongest and greatest golfers demonstrate a simple lesson to us all when they take their lumps! Certainly, they could try the miracle shot – that maybe they could hit….certainly better chances than your average golfer. But instead, at the open we watch the world’s greatest golfers humbly pitch the ball back into play.

How many miracle shots are you trying to pull? When you make a mistake do you take your lumps or do you compound the mistake by trying to magically solve it? What issue should you take your lumps and just get the ball back into play?

Final thought….if you think you look good in floral pants….Daly Pantsyou really really really need some fashion lessons!!!

July 13, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — robjelinek @ 3:09 pm

I found out long ago
It’s a long way down the Holiday Road

Holiday Road
Holiday Road


Guess in many ways I show my age with the above reference. But for those of us who are old enough to remember Chevy Chase and Christie Brinkley, Vacation was more than a movie. Instead it was a validation of our youth and the trips in the family truckster. Which leads me to reflect on my families recent road-trip over the 4th and the highs and lows of heading down that holiday road!

Your Right Dad!!!!

Dad, you were right!

For the first time in my adult life, I am actually buying that my dad had it tougher. Forget the walking 5 miles to school each day…uphill…in the snow. That and all the other tales are stored in a pile. Fact is, I can’t even imagine what it must have been like to shove 3 boys into the back of the family truckster. Mind you this was a day and age prior to I-Touches, cell phones, and DS’s. I remember the “stop touching me’s” and the like. No wonder Dad liked to leave on our 10 hour journey in the middle of the night. Granted, I had 4 in the car, but can tell you progress for the dad in the driver’s seat has been amazing in the last 30 years. I only had to threaten to pull the Suburban over like 10-15 times over the time on the road!

Thanks Dad!!!!

Dad, Atlanta roots gave me the gift of the V!

For those who didn’t grow up in “HOT”Lanta or go to UGA, the next few references may not make much sense, so I apologize in advance for the mid-part of this diatribe. Having laid that out, there is nothing like the enjoyment of watching your 4 kids and their first journey to the “Greasy V”. The Varsity is a landmark in Georgia, with the downtown Atlanta site being a special experience. What a series of memories for the old man here! Cries of “Whatcha have, whatcha have” echoing thru the halls. Seeing your oldest daughter get brain freeze from a Jumbo-FO. All four kids with Varsity car hop hats on – yes we have multiple photo’s on this front by the way – we’ll be using those at future family events! Watching Nick-Nack wolf down chili-burger after chili-burger. Yes, we went to the aquarium prior to that, but the “Greasy V” was the highlight of that day!

Whatcha Have

Sorry Dad!!!!

Ok Dad, Sorry. Sure I am a part of why you lost your hair!

How did that cheer go???? Firecracker Firecracker Boom Boom Boom. July 4th is payback to those of us who might have been known to light a firecracker or two in our youth. The lethal combination of youth, explosives, lighters, and peer pressure is more than my little ole’ heart can take. You know, July 4th is not for the faint of heart…..not if you’re a parent. We had a wonderful fireworks show, that included several near misses as all the kids demanded on playing a role in the festivities. Sorry Dad! Now I understand why you have no hair!

Well, all said, a successful trip. We’re all alive. We have all our limbs. I have a new appreciation for my father. And I haven’t strangled a single one of my kids. Yep, a successful trip it’s been!

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