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Always is a good time to lend a helping hand

My day started off as usual with a great cup of coffee with the “Six” (military call-sign for either the boss or wife, in this case it’s both!) and headed out to the pet groomers to get our Malinois her brush out.

On the way back I stopped at a very nice but busy Circle K for fuel. As I was fueling my truck I was banging out a few emails on my phone and checking my schedule for the day (no the phone does not make the gas pumps explode, watch Mythbusters!). While I was multi-tasking as most Americans do, especially in the AM on their way to work, I hear this loud banging over and over again.

I look up to realize a young man was having trouble with his car door and was slamming it repeatedly to try to close it. He then jumped out and was literally shaking the door to try to realign it and get it closed. He stood at least 6’4″ and 260lbs, had lots of tattoos and was driving a war-beaten faded Chrysler whose better days were behind it. The place was full of cars, people getting gas, coffee and their morning bagel. All this was going on and I watched in amazement as not one person flinched to lend a hand.

This was just a regular guy, granted he came across as potentially “scary,” and his car wasn’t new, but no one was offering to help this guy and EVERYONE heard the banging and continued to ignore him. I watched him struggle a few more seconds with the door, stopped my gas pump and walked over to him and asked “Do you need some help?.”

He said, “The door is off the hinge and I can’t get it closed.” I said, “Well, I’m not a mechanic but I’m a dam good problem solver, let’s check it out.” After a minute or two of assessing the situation I found what I thought was the problem, told the guy, he says “Oh yeah, that’s it!” and proceeds to fix his door. He gets in his car, I slam the door a few times with him inside to get it to secure, and he’s good to go.

I start heading back to my truck and he yells, “Hey sir, hey sir!” I walk back to his window and out comes this giant winged spanned arm and massive hand, he shakes my hand and says “Thank you sir, I appreciate the help.” I tell him in my best Sergeant Major voice “No worries young man, have a great American day”. He smiles and drives off.

I then begin the “stare down” to all the others that were immediately to the left and right of this young man. Hey don’t “choke on that bagel your sucking down” were some of my thoughts. Seriously, just because he wasn’t wearing a suit and driving an expensive car have the generosity as a human being to provide some type of assistance.

Now if you know me you know that there is all truth in that statement I’m definitely not a mechanic! But this young man didn’t need a mechanic, he needed somebody to put fresh eyes on the situation, help him diagnose the problem and get him on his way.

Always is a good time to lend a helping hand!

Look past whatever distractors you need to look past and if the opportunity arises, just lend a hand. Most times you don’t have to be a subject matter expert, just a person willing to roll up your sleeves if the situation arises, and dig in!

Have a great day! Hooah!

JB SPISSO
Performance Coach & Lead Consultant
Elite Leadership Training LLC

http://www.eliteleadershiptraining.com

Twitter: Leadership_Trng

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Supporting your goals & dreams

Many people say to get ahead in life you must take the road less traveled and to do it yourself. There is some truth in that, especially the “self-motivated” part of it.

One of our main training objectives is Performance Coaching. I can’t help someone become a professional athlete or business leader unless they want it down to their core. If they want it and put in the effort & sacrifice we can assist them in reaching this goal!

The fact of “doing it alone” has gone the way with the dinosaur, and is very difficult to do without, as a minimum, the support of someone.

I attended a military promotion ceremony years ago for a Colonel being promoted to Brigadier General. He was a very intelligent, motivated, hard-core man with both technical and tactical experience. He spoke well, knew everyone’s name, led by example, and was the type of leader all Soldier’s could look up to. He said fittingly in his promotion ceremony that “next to every successful leader is even a more successful cast.”

This tells the story, having someone to support you in your hopes, dreams, goals and desires.

I have a goal for both our company and myself, but frankly could not have taken on this challenge without the support (and initiative) of our company president (also my wife), who realized I have so much to offer those outside of the military. I’ve always been a great motivator and passionate about what I’m doing and the men and women to my left and right. But taking this to an unfamiliar audience is always challenging.

I have found that inspiring and motivating is a common thread, especially to those wanting to be the best! The traits of being a Warrior, Winner, Leaders & Survivor run deep into the hearts and souls of those that want to be successful. The common theme however is, YOU CAN’T DO IT ALONE!

Find those that believe in who you are and what you want to accomplish (as long as they are all positive goals; the assumption here). Tell all they “nay sayers” to GET LOST! Your goals need the positive reinforcement of someone. It doesn’t need to be an entire staff of folks, but just a few that believe in your goals & when your having an “off” day, someone to remind you why you are on this quest.

Thanks to those that support me and continue to give me the personal courage to take what I’ve learned, been taught, and have experienced and share it with others. Especially to my loving and caring wife, who each day tells me to keep moving forward and have fun while I’m doing it!

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote given to me by my great friend Coach Tom Renney. When anyone tells you something is impossible, read this quote back to them!

“Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion usually coming from those that have never measured themselves in the face of adversity!” ~TR

Have a great day! HOOAH!

JB SPISSO
Performance Coach & Lead Consultant
Elite Leadership Training LLC

http://www.eliteleadershiptraining.com

Twitter: Leadership_Trng

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Trust your Instincts: When to change a professional service

It’s often said “we only know what we know.” A military commander cannot make a sound and timely decision on a battle plan if the reconnaissance element doesn’t get the necessary information to the commander. The same for the business/corporate field. Bottom line, we put trust in the professionals that do the job or provide a service.

We all know or have known a local automotive mechanic that we could take our vehicle to for service. It would be fixed in a timely manner, and we would not be sticker shocked on the bill. I’m not a mechanic (though I did rebuild a motor in a ’73 Ford Truck from a Chilton’s manual!), so when I take our vehicles in for service we “trust” the professionals providing the service will do a sound and timely job and they will do so with a professional “responsibility” as if they are working on their own car. Much like the commander expecting the Recon Sergeant to provide him or her with an accurate assessment on the enemy situation.

Now we all know that quality service only goes as far as the level of quality we expect, the trust we have, what we are willing to pay or how far to we want to be ripped off. We’ve all had bad service at restaurants, barbers, retail stores, etc… We have to gauge the price versus the service or what we want to deal with.

When we are hired for leadership training, team building or character development, our goal is to provide a “First Class” service and also give the client “bang for their buck.” That’s our motivation, our foundation, our ethics. If we cannot do something or if there is something that is better suited for another company, we are upfront and honest with our clients. We would rather provide the best service to a few, then a sub-standard effort to many.

This motto is unfortunately not the standard across the professional community. With the economy the way it is, businesses want to take on as much as they can, and if they limp to the finish line with a sub-standard performance, their satisfied because they were paid.

This is much more than a lesson in ethics, it’s about doing the right thing by each client regardless of the circumstance if you accept a job. For us it doesn’t matter if you are a professional sports team, major soft drink or pharmaceutical company, or the family owned pool company with six employees. You will receive 110% effort each and every day.

Now this blog isn’t about pumping up Elite Leadership Training, rather this blog is about when is it time to change professional services?

Some say to give a professional service one chance, if you’re not satisfied, move on. But what about the instances where you receive great service initially, and the service over time worsens?

I get my hair cut a lot, probably three times a month (old Army Ranger habit, high & tight every 7 days!), so if I receive a bad haircut the first time I change Barbers, but I also know I’ll have a chance of a better haircut in 10 days!!!

But let’s talk about key professional services like a doctor or lawyer, positions that require both stellar education & ethics. I’m an educated man but I’m neither a doctor or lawyer. My days of being a Ranger EMT & Army Sergeant Major did not prepare me for either position. So if a doctor or attorney tells me something, I take it as fact. They went to medical school or law school; this is their profession.

Granted the Internet has helped in finding out pieces of information, but much of the Internet is not fact. You have to decide when the information you’ve received is “what you want to hear” and the professionals no longer have your best interests in hand. Easier said then done in many instances.

Everyone has attributes they do well and don’t do well; if you do everything well your lying or your ego makes you a narcissist. I’m a terrific motivator who leads with passion & wears his heart on his sleeve. I’m also a very trusting person and I take people a their face value. Do what you say your going to do and be upfront and honest. That’s what I expect and how I live my life; unfortunately that’s not a standard 100% across the board.

My answer for when is it time to change professional services is simply “trust your instincts” and “don’t ignore those instincts.” My “instincts” told me years ago to make a change in a professional service (as well as my wife’s instincts); but when aggravated I would be told what I wanted to hear from that service, receive the necessary reassurances, and oh by the way there is new bill in the mail!

I’m an overly trusting person (my attribute that needs work) because it’s what I give so what I expect. I ignored my instincts, the advice from my wife, and I’ve overpaid for a service that lacked the quality and professionalism necessary to complete the mission. Shame on me, but I’ve learned and moving forward! Hooah!

Here’s the standard, do what you say your going to do and if you can’t, or you are not qualified, or it’s too hard, or you just don’t want to do it, then tell me from the start. We have lost this sense of professionalism somewhere.

The foundation of trust in a professional service has to be the keystone in being a Warrior, Winner, Leader & Survivor.

Trust your instincts! HOOAH!

JB SPISSO
Performance Coach & Lead Consultant
Elite Leadership Training LLC

http://www.eliteleadershiptraining.com

Twitter: Leadership_Trng

*This is NOT an attack on Doctors or Lawyers; my family has four medical professionals in it & I have several great people of character that are attorneys. This point can be made about a home builder, electrician, driver or anyone offering professional services. The point being made is understood that doctors & lawyers are some of the upper echelon of educated professionals.

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The Power of the K9

I had a number of subjects for today’s blog but as its said, some missions don’t go as planned. Adapt, over-come, move forward!

If you’ve heard one of my Warrior-Leader Briefs you know that I often ask “is it OK to have a bad day?” This can cause somewhat of a stir with some groups and I’m not here to debate this question today (another blog for a later date!).

My bottom line, it’s OK to have a bad day; except for a lack or preparation and/or focus. The enemy, opponent, or competitor all have a “vote” in what happens to you so bad days will happen, it’s life (if your planning & focus is on you will limit those days!).

After after a long and *demanding day I took some time to walk to the park with our dog and play fetch. Our dog is a 18 month old female Belgian Malinois who stands in a slender 50lb frame. Regardless of what’s going on, she is ready to play, greet me, and comfort me despite any trials and tribulations of the outside world.

While we were playing I eventually took a seat on the park bench and was continuing to bang out a few texts and emails and continuing to stress my day out when I looked up and there was our dog, starring at me patiently, tennis ball in her mouth, just waiting. The power of the canine goes beyond being man’s best friend, they give unconditional love and affection and really ask for little in return. Some food, water, walks and play catch and I’ll be there for you always! Good days, bad days, any days!

The dog doesn’t need to speak our language; their message gets across!! They let you know “hey, I’m here for you.” They get the most pleasure out of the simplest of things, like fetching a ball until “WE” get tired. With a little professional training (thanks Ann Austin), you can take your canine almost anywhere and they listen better then most teenagers!

My day finished up in the back yard grilling food for dinner, and playing frisbee with the Belgian!

The day started out a little rocky, but ended with a ruff!!!!

Have a great weekend!! Hooah!! JBS

JB SPISSO
Performance Coach & Lead Consultant
Elite Leadership Training LLC

http://www.eliteleadershiptraining.com

*Demanding day is a figure of speech; though this was a mentally exhausting day for sure I had hot chow, saw my family & had the ability to crap on porcelain. There are men and women standing a post, walking a patrol, and defending our freedoms tonight with their lives on the line. They don’t need medals and don’t want a fuss to be made over them; they are doing their job as a service to our great Nation & our way of life! HOOAH! RLTW!

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Holding all questions to the end…

“My name is Sergeant Spisso, welcome to your operations order brief. Take out your pens, pencils, notebooks, Ranger Handbooks, and hold all questions to the end.”

This is common before delivering any military style briefing, and the way I was taught as a young Army Ranger to give a brief. I’ve kept this as a foundation throughout my career and we teach this in our communication class to corporate clients (www.eliteleadershiptraining.com).

Holding all questions to the end…it’s not just meant for an organized military briefing, but also in something as simple as a phone call or face to face conversation. It does not always have to be said, holding all questions to the end is an “implied task.”

Simply by listening you have a good chance that your question will get answered somewhere in the briefing. Our minds race when working on a project, we want tot jump in and ask a question which is pertinent to our part of the project. The fact is, the question we want answered will probably get answered by being patient and taking notes (two things we are often not good at!). We all have those team mates that jump in with questions five minutes into a brief; questions that will most likely be answered by listening!

If you are the sender and running a meeting or giving a briefing, don’t assume everyone comes prepared or understands the rules of engagement. How many times do you have people coming to meetings with nothing to write on? They sit there, play on their smart phones, and haphazardly pay attention as if you are subjecting them to shock therapy. Do they really think they can memorize everything that comes out of a meeting?

My sister has a photographic memory and still takes notes! Prepare your meeting or presentation by having a handout with a short summary of your briefing/project and highlight all the key points. People don’t come prepared, so your prepare them! This way when there are questions, you can revert back to your simple handout (DO NOT OVER COMPLICATE THIS DOCUMENT- use the KISS method, Keep it Simple & Stupid).

If you are the receiver in a meeting, come prepared. Ask if there is a read-ahead so you can list any of your potential questions (who, what, where, when & why) and as they are being answered in the briefing you can check them off.

Regardless of the meeting intent, you should leave with a minimum direction & distance. Sender you should make this point clearly; receiver its your responsibility to understand where its going. There will be work to do and there will be more questions to follow (called RFI’s – request for information). But a solid brief with take away handouts will lessen the RFI’s that will be filling your inbox.

“Hi, my name is JB Spisso, this meeting is to cover our marketing objectives for next quarter. Please take a meeting handout provided for you, take copious notes, place your phones/PDA’s on silent and stow them until the end of this briefing; finally hold all questions to the end.”

HOOAH!

JB SPISSO
Performance Coach & Lead Consultant
Elite Leadership Training LLC

http://www.eliteleadershiptraining.com

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The Power of Hand Written Thank You’s

Our world has changed with the power of the computer, smart phones & social media. We have the ability to get information out to many in a few short key strokes, and there is obviously a lot of good that has come out of that.

When I first became a young Sergeant in the Ranger Regiment (my first time actually having my own fire team to lead), my Father reminded me to always say “thank you” to those that have assisted in your career and to those that you lead. He said “thank you’s work both up and down.”

Growing up I noticed he would always write people hand written notes; he was “old school” as they say and was never big into the computer information age (though he just passed his first college computer class at age 88, Hooah!) He reminded me throughout my career that there “was a power in the hand written note.”

I didn’t catch on early in my career, but the last 10 years I became well versed in writing little notes of encouragement and thank you’s to those that have made a difference. These notes don’t have to be long, just a few lines to tell those that their contributions were appreciated and made a difference.

Now retired from the military, I still continue to write clients and friends “Hooah” notes on James Dietz WWII pictured stationary (Dietz is a famous painter of Ranger History). Not an e-mail, not a text, but a hand written note that might sound archaic, but goes a long way into the “power of people.”

I still to this day have a hand written note on a 1st Ranger Battalion note card from then LTC Brian Pentecost, thanking me & telling me I did a great job as a jumpmaster on a particular airborne operation, in 1993!!!

While deployed to Afghanistan in 2008, I received six letters (and still have them) from legendary Army Officer LTC(Ret) Hank Keirsey on unique Civil War note cards; telling me to “stay strong, take care of your men, & press the fight to the enemy.” This is a man who is extremely busy, traveling and doing great deeds! Yet he “made” the time to write me a few sentences and check on my morale.

We were on a return trip for a leadership session for a major pharmaceutical company this past July. While there I was able to stop and see one of the leaders that initially hired us to do work. While we were chatting in her office I noticed next to her family pictures and work documents was a distinctive Jim Dietz notecard, the one I sent her as a thank you six months earlier!!

The power of handwriting notes!!

E-mail, text, twitter, etc…, they are all great. But if you want to thank a client or an employee, then jot down a few sentences on a note card outlining your thanks or their great job. It shows the receiver that your words are actually sincere, and you will be surprised how good it makes you, the sender, feel as well. It takes a little more effort, but it’s truly a “win-win!”

Hooah! Have a great day!!

JB SPISSO
Performance Coach & Lead Consultant
Elite Leadership Training LLC

Twitter: Leadership_Trng

http://www.eliteleadershiptraining.com

info@eliteleadershiptraining.com

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Finding Your Own Leadership Style

Throughout my 26 year military career I was often asked to define my own leadership style and to give suggestions on which style I think young leaders should adopt.

When I was a young 18 year old Ranger in 2nd Ranger Battalion, I was fortunate to have a great Squad Leader by the name of Staff Sergeant (SSG) Roberts. He was a “Grenada Invader;” meaning he participated in the combat parachute assault on the island of Grenada, Operation: Urgent Fury. This was one of the first key combat actions since Vietnam & gave a small group of elite warriors combat experience. SSG Roberts was very well respected & from the first day in his squad he encouraged all of us to find our own identity in leadership. Some felt the need to be the constant hard ass, while others wanted to be everyone’s buddy. What I learned from SSG Roberts was that he was always consistent, however he did not have one single leadership style.

SSG Roberts was a PT machine and could run us all into the ground. He knew when to yell, when to pat us on the back, and we all clearly knew the lines which not to cross. If you did something that embarrassed the squad you were going to pay the price. He was a great teacher; he took the time to teach us the standard out of the manual but also the techniques that are never in the book. He never allowed us to take shortcuts and he settled for nothing less then our best each and every day. I remember during a week long FTX (field training exercise) we had been going non stop for over 72 hours. We finally had a few hours in the field to catch some sleep and he told all of us to hit the rack while he stayed up & pulled security (one of Rogers’ Rules of Ranging). This is who SSG Roberts was, this is what defined them.

Years later I became my own Staff Sergeant, trying to pass the lessons I learned onto young Rangers, Soldiers, Cadets and Officer Candidates.

In my multitude of years working as West Point I had the ability to be exposed to some of the best the Officer & Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Corps had to offer. There were some very interesting leadership styles pre 9-11. The military was generally not at war during this time period & leadership styles took on more of a business attitude versus a Warrior style. (I’m not here to argue these points, that’s for another day.) Young cadets would prepare for graduation and look to the cadre of West Point to find the leadership style that sets the standard. Some cadre would say “when you take over your platoon make sure you go in hard, you don’t get a second chance to set the standard.” Or, “you better tell your Sergeants’ whose in charge from day one, they are not your friends.”

Now I understand at this time period (the 1990’s) many of the Senior Officers (Colonel & above) were Vietnam Veterans, and our Army had many challenges during that time period. The lessons to our young Officers was to insure they understand “whose in charge.”

Well the Army changed a lot since Vietnam. We had professional development training and courses to help our young warriors. Our NCO’s were smarter, more agile, fit and led with standards. They understood “whose in charge.”

My message to young Officers was simply that taught to me by SSG Roberts, just to “be you!”

You cannot be General Patton because “you’re not Patton!” Be Smith, Kowalski, Jenner, or whatever your name is.

I don’t care if you are taking over the best platoon in the Army or the absolute worst platoon, your introduction should be the same; “Hi, I’m Jim Smith your new Platoon Leader, and I’m dam glad to be here!”. That’s it! Simple! Everyone knows your name, what you are here for, and regardless of the situation you are excited. This will set the tone and will allow you to start working on what needs to be done.

You should never say things like; “I’m here to fix this place,” or “I’m going to turn this platoon into something.”

Here is what every unit needs to be successful (military or civilian):
1. A direction & distance. (Tell them which way to go & how far it is.)
2. They need to know what the standard is. (If the current standard is not being met then increase the standard, don’t lower it to show progress or efficiency.)
3. Finally, what do you want done and when? (The who, what, where, when & why. You normally don’t need to tell them “how.”)

If you want to be a hard ass, be a hard ass; but under no circumstances do you ever need to be a “prick.” There is a big difference. If your unit needs work, you might have to be the hard ass. If your unit needs simple direction, you will need to be a great communicator.

To be a great leader you need to be well versed in MANY leadership styles. Oh by the way, you become more proficient at these leadership styles through…you guessed it…EXPERIENCE.

When I retired as a Sergeant Major in 2010 a former Division Command Sergeant Major came up to me and told me I “finally had a great balance in my leadership style.” I respectfully told him “it took me 26 years to get here!” Hooah!

If you are a leader in business or the profession of arms, hang in there and get a little better everyday and you will be OK!

RLTW!

JBS
Performance Coach & Lead Consultant
Elite Leadership Training LLC

http://www.eliteleadershiptraining.com

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