Archives For Leadership

Lost Found Buttons Shows Losing And FindingA while back I lost my driver’s license.  First time that has ever happened to me.  No big deal, right?  After all, how many times have I had to pull it out and show it to a police officer in the last two decades?  None. Actually the only time I need to pull out my license is when I go up to Skyline Drive. And if I fly I need it. So I was not too worried or in a big hurry to go to DMV.

While driving home I get a call from Dick’s.  Evidently I dropped my license in the store, and it was picked up and put in the safe.  Finally someone figured I could probably use it.  So now I won’t have to ruin a day with a painful visit to the DMV.

When I first lost my license I did not even notice.  It could take weeks or months before I actually realize it is missing.  Life is sometimes like that.  Way too often I hear of another marriage breaking up.  Wonder how long it took the couple to realize they had lost ‘it.’  Wonder if they remember when the wheels started coming off.

Think with me. What things are often lost but never found or recovered.

1. Integrity. You can build it over a lifetime and lose it in an instant.

2. Marriage. Fortunately my driver’s license was found and restored, but if it had not, a replacement could have been  made.  But too often in life things get lost, relationships start heading south, and there is no quick recovery. The pain may last for years and even intensify.

3. Devotion to Christ. Even Christ-followers have been known to lose their first love for their Savior (Revelation 2:4).  Scary.  Because not everything that gets lost gets found.

Check your wallet and make sure you have not lost something important.

IMG_1981The story of how Starbucks almost went away, in fact it’s stock price was well below $10 a share, and how it recovered to where it is profitable and how it’s current stock price is at $60, is in one word, fascinating.

This is a great read for any individual or organizational leader to read.  The quotes that I have included will just give you a taste of what’s in the book.  Also, another word that describes the book is hope.  The light had almost gone out at Starbucks.

While my copy is highlighted and dog-eared all over, I have chosen just a few quotes to give you an idea of what’s in the book. In the following quotes I have italicized some key words.

9. “Every time a barista had to tell a customer, ‘Sorry, we’re out of vanilla syrup’ or ‘We didn’t receive our banana shipment so I can’t make your Vivanno,’ the fragile trust between Starbucks and our partners and between Starbucks and our customers fractured.”

10. “Starbucks’ store managers were keys to the company’s transformation.  All the cost cuts and innovation meant nothing unless our baristas understood their personal responsibility to connect with customers…” p. 193

11. “…reinforced how much a barista’s job matters given that he or she quite possibly might serve up the only human connection in a customer’s day.” p. 198

12. “I’ve never embraced traditional advertising for Starbucks…our success had been won with millions of daily interactions.” p. 211

13. “In September 2008, Starbucks had parted ways, somewhat painfully, with our primary advertising agency of four years…”  p. 211

14. “…the more critical the times, the more important it is…to work together in a non-political, non-emotional, fact-focused way.” p. 221

15. “Although I never stopped believing that Starbucks would emerge from the darkness, I was nonetheless experiencing an emotional roller coaster daily.” p. 222

16. “And while I would not want to constantly battle against the odds, the raw feeling of accomplishing something that others did not think possible, or leading people beyond where they thought they could go, is extremely gratifying.” 302

17. “Never expect a silver bullet…Stick to your values…Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes…Believe.” p. 309

As you read the book you realize that Howard Schultz put himself through a lot.  In other words, he had enough money.  He did not have to go back to Starbucks.  So why did he do it?

“Quite simply, I love this company and the responsibility that goes with it.  Onward…”  p. 311

Onward is a candid and compelling story of a remarkable comeback.  This book is required reading.

IMG_1981Onward was one of my favorite books not long ago. I purchased it as soon as it came out and devoured it within the week. It’s the story of how Starbucks almost went away with a worsening economy and internal troubles.

However, the former CEO, Howard Schultz, came back as CEO and began to once again oversee the day to day operations.

Today Starbucks’ stock price has increased almost ten-fold from its low. It has once again returned to profitability. Since I go there regularly, their story has always intrigued me.

The book is a great read as it covers the decision making, the store closings, and also the elimination of some of its people. On the one hand I’m sure many felt that Schultz went about it the wrong way.  For some it could appear that he was unnecessarily ruthless at times. But Starbucks had lost its way, and someone had to right the ship.  Howard Schultz was the man to do it.

I have included twenty quotes that sort of summarize the decisions, the emotional turmoil, and the process that brought Starbucks back. Rather than include all twenty in one post, I will break it into two posts with several highlights in each post.  These are all the words of Howard Schultz.

1. “There are moments in our lives when we summon the courage to make choices that go against reason, against common sense and the wise counsel of people we trust.” p. 7

2. “What upset me, what felt like a blow to the gut, was the leak.  I could not imagine who would do such a thing.  It was nothing less than betrayal.  In my life I place enormous value on loyalty and trust.” p. 27

3. “Saying good-bye to people when they leave Starbucks never gets easier, even when I think it is the right choice for the company, and especially when I truly respect the individual.” p. 60

4. “Did we have the right people with the right skills in place for everything that needed attention.” p.77

5. “Our coffee and marketing departments went out and conducted their own taste tests to gain a definitive understanding of what many consumers really wanted in lieu of a bold brew–not what we assumed they wanted, which was a weak, inferior coffee.  What we heard, what many people told us, was that they wanted Starbucks to sell a more consistent, balanced brewed coffee.” p. 85

6. “Closing so many stores felt like a defeat, even if it was the right thing to ensure the company’s health.” p. 152

7. “Success is not sustainable if it’s defined by how big you become.  Large numbers that once motivated me–40,000 stores!–are not what matter.  The only number that matters is ‘one.’  One cup.  One customer.  One partner.  One experience at a time.” p. 156

8. “I know people are angry and grieving and I know people are mad.  But I had to make the difficult choice (and consider) the long-term sustainability of the company.” p. 172

Obviously being at the top can be emotionally draining and incredibly challenging.

In my next post I will add some more quotes and lessons from a great comeback.

 

iStockValuesRecently I had coffee with a friend who had worked with Lou Gerstner, one of my favorite CEO’s.  Back in the 1990’s IBM was about to go under. They reported the biggest corporate loss of all time, and Gerstner was brought in to restructure and rebuild the company.

While initially IBM was forced to lay people off, today they boast a workforce of 400,000 and the company is thriving.  However, in the midst of the turmoil Gerstner fired the #1 producer in the company!

Why would he do that?  Because the employee operated against the cultural value of teamwork.  On a side note I totally understand.  At New Hope Church we believe people are hurting and living with a great deal of stress.  The church should be the one place they can come and be accepted and welcomed. If you have a hard time accepting everyone, then you would be uncomfortable in a leadership role at New Hope. One of our core tenets is a welcoming atmosphere.

Back to IBM.  After they fired their #1 producer what was the fallout? There wasn’t one.  The company never missed a beat.

Think about it.  The #1 producer was not indispensable.

As Seth Godin said in his book Linchpin, “Every day, bosses, customers, and investors make hard choices about whom to support and whom to eliminate, downsize, or avoid.”

In most fields tenure is no longer a guarantee. You must show up every day living out the company values.

Perhaps now you know the answer to the question, “Are you indispensable?”

Yellow airbed in the seaFor years our family went to the beach and spent a lot of time in the water.  And of course we spent a lot of time floating on rafts.  And what do rafts do?  They drift.

Before you know it you have drifted so far up or down the beach nothing looks familiar.  Or you have drifted so far out that you begin to panic.

In life it happens all the time.  We tend to think drifting only happens at the beach. Yet that is not the case at all.

One of the most noticeable types of drifting is marital drift.

Ask any crowd of married people who is planning on getting a divorce and few hands go up.

So why is the divorce rate so high?  Because couples drift until they grow so far apart that very little is left to the marriage.  Typically by the time a couple senses that they have drifted, they have drifted so far away from the shore it’s almost impossible to paddle back in.

Let’s use the acrostic D.R.I.F.T. to describe and better understand the deadly affects of drifting.  You may be drifting now and not know it.  Here is what it looks like.

Distraction – Sometimes I feel like the king of distraction.  I’m watching a ball game and get up to go do something.  Then I get caught up in a project and do not return to the game for thirty minutes.  In marriage couples get distracted by work, kids, activities, and television.

Rearrange – Soon our priorities change.  A couple who used to go out for dinner once a week no longer makes it a priority.  Something else has taken its place.  The couple who used to take long walks has allowed time on the computer to take precedence.

Immune – Sadly it no longer bothers us.  No dinner date for six months and no sign of remorse.  Yet it is typically at this point that we live in denial which leads us to the letter f.

Fake it – However, as we venture out into the public eye everyone thinks we have a great marriage.  In fact we so good at it that when a couple breaks up it is not unusual to here, “Wow, I had not idea their marriage was in trouble.”

Top it off – In marriage it may be an affair.  In one spiritual life it may be that he bails on God.

Here’s the question.  Do people have affairs all the sudden?  Do people bail on God overnight?  Do we become obese in a week?  Does our house fall apart over the weekend?

We all know the answer, but how many of us are asking the real question:  Am I D.R.I.F.T.ing in my life, in my marriage, or in my physical health?

Often it is easier to drift than paddle back to shore.  However, it’s time to quit drifting and start paddling!

Football-Penn StateA new era has begun at Penn State.  Coach Bill O’Brien has somewhat of a formidable task.  Due to the unfortunate incidents over the last several months several of Penn States top players left for other colleges to continue their football careers.  When Coach O’Brien arrived the situation was already bad.  However, after his arrival things became even worse as players left.  With that sad here are some of my thoughts.

You have walked into a mess.  The current is against you.  There are few favorable winds at your back.  But you took the job knowing all that, and because you believe your previous experiences, your character, and your success coaching football have prepared you for this undertaking.

I would add at this point that unless you have ever been broken at some point in your life, this job will become even tougher.  You have walked into a broken situation, you will be surrounded by broken people, and you must be able to walk in their shoes.

One of the great stories from the book of Genesis centers around the life of Joseph.  Let me encourage you to read that story multiple times and learn from how he led during a great famine.  And quite frankly, Penn State football may be entering a time of famine, and it may last for a few years.

Here are six lessons to begin with:

1. Not all leaders can lead during a famine.  Egypt went through seven years of famine and Joseph led the way.  Part of your job is going to be to lead Penn State through the current crisis.

2. Do not complain.  Everyone knows the circumstances.  Everyone knows there is a famine in the land.  Be proactive and lead.

3. Don’t play the blame game.  Yes, people previous to you made some poor decisions. We get all that.  Remember, you took the job knowing all that, and you felt like you measured up to the challenge.  Deal with it, and do not bring up the earlier administration.

4. Set the example.  Avoid spending too much time looking in the rear view mirror or you will wind up in the ditch.

5. Identify some benchmarks or milestones to track your progress along this long journey.  As you travel, you will gain hope as you reach these along the way.

6. Cast a compelling vision for a bright future. Stay positive, encourage those around you, and serve your coaching staff and players well.

Yes, the sun has gone down on the University of Penn State.  But it will rise again.  And you can be the coach who is at the helm when that happens.

One more thing.

Remember that the country is pulling for you.  Yes, Penn State has that much influence.  And many will be cheering for your success.