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The Wise Ones: Jim Schell

First in The Wise Ones Series:

jim-schellJim Schell is a successful entrepreneur, published author and turn-around expert.  He was recently awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bend Chamber of Commerce.  I'm fortunate to serve with Jim on the Looking Forward team, where we seek opportunities to connect business leaders in traditional and new economy sectors.

JT: How do you define having a good “work ethic?”

JS: I define a GOOD work ethic as one which balances work and play in an equitable manner. The work part of the equation is the old, reliable stuff: being accountable, showing up on time, being results oriented, etc. The play thing is taking the time out of every day, week or year to take care of your personal needs for relaxation and family.

JT: Why is having time to play important to a work ethic?

JS: No play makes you dull, in every way.

JT: At this point in your career, do you rely more on instinct or experience to make decisions?

JS: I think instinct and experience combine to become wisdom. I define wisdom as intuition grown old. Wisdom is what happens when you’ve tried a lot of stuff for 80 years and watched some of it work and some of it fail.

JT: What do you believe new economy leaders can learn from traditional leaders?

JS: The number one thing is the importance of community. Community is where their businesses will succeed, their kids will grow up, and their family will prosper. The new economy folks need to learn to volunteer time, energy and yes, money, to help their community keep up with the expanding needs of its citizens. (This is especially true in Bend, where it’s expanding so fast.)

JT: What do you believe traditional business leaders can learn from new economy leaders?

JS: How to get the most out of their time.  New economy leaders, mostly through technology, get more work, or at least information, out of an hour then traditional folks do. Related to this is their penchant to be able to work anywhere, not just in the office.

JT: What has been the hardest leadership lesson for you to learn?

JS: The hardest lesson I’ve learned in my career is to delegate. Most serial entrepreneurs have this problem because they don’t want to supposedly waste time teaching someone else to do the job when they can do it faster and, they think, better by themselves.

JT: So what is the benefit of delegating?

JS: Leverage is my favorite word.  Delegating allows leaders to leverage their skills, time and assets to build something bigger.  One dentist can only take so many patients, but one dentist leading a team of ten can build a profitable company.  And that is also, by the way, why I love connecting people.  When good people get together they can accomplish so much more.

JT: What legacy do you hope to leave?

JS: I want to make the region and community in which I live a better place to live, work and play. I know I can’t measure it but I can feel it.

For more about Jim's accomplishments, check his LinkedIn profile.

Do You Need a Strategic Plan?

Strategy [strat•i•jee]: a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.

Years ago I worked for large consulting firm where I was responsible for implementing organization-wide changes as directed by the Executive Team. True to form, I got myself into trouble more than once by asking the question “why are we doing this?” and “how does this connect to our goals?” I sensed something bigger was missing. We were reacting to opportunities, challenges and (frankly) trends, but without a clear sense of where we wanted to be long term. “Bigger. More profitable. More market share.” Those were our guidelines. But the connection between new HR practices or IT initiatives was vague, at best…

Years later I had the pleasure to partner with business experts, who taught me the basic framework of the Balanced Scorecard model for strategic planning. Implementing this model within a small consulting firm, the approach connected a clear vision statement and an organization’s values to specific financial, service, infrastructure and capabilities goals (the four components of the Balanced Scorecard). Most importantly, this allowed our clients to identify a critical path to their vision, and prioritize their investments of time, money and people. Rather than reacting, they could be intentional. And therefore, strategic. Finally, the missing link!

Do you need a strategic plan? If you want to make sure you are using all of your resources on the highest priorities to achieve clearly articulated goals, the answer is clearly, yes.

Top Five: Implementing Your Strategic Plan

A ton of your time, money and energy can go into a strategic plan.  Once the plan is “done” there will likely be momentum for achieving key outcomes.  But as the weeks slide by, and you and your colleagues are busy keeping up with everything that was already on your plate, the ideas that came from strategic thinking can dissolve in both urgency and engagement.

Working closely with businesses large and small, here are some guidelines that I’ve found can keep your strategic initiatives in play:

  1. Map it out: Create a six month or one year roadmap that simply identifies for each project: lead, timeline, milestones, resources needed.
  2. Let it Breathe: Consider the roadmap a living document that is regularly updated to reflect changes in your business and is adaptable to new information. Clearly identify who is responsible for this document.  Tip: A quick way to visually track progress on multiple projects is flagging them as green, yellow or red.
  3. Clear accountability: Name someone as the Strategic Champion or a team as the Strategic Steering Committee. This person(s) is not responsible for doing everything on the plan.  They are responsible for making sure projects move forward and are accomplished.
  4. Keep it going: Meet and report on strategic projects at least quarterly. Make this a separate meeting from other business and allow plenty of time for deeper dives on your top strategic priorities.
  5. Engage people in the How: As leaders you’ve vetted and identified the What (strategic priorities) and the Where (Vision) you are taking the business. Engage others down the line, or even outside the company to help define How you’ll get there.  Tip: Being asked to participate on a strategic project can be just what younger professionals need to stay engaged and grow their skills.

Love or Fear

At the very core of the work I do is a value, a belief, and a point of view of the world. This drives everything I stand for and how I relate to others. Years ago, I mined the variegated fields of the work I do seeking to uncover what fundamentally drives me. What are my core beliefs?

At the very molten center arose this truth: I believe that we, as human beings, are always operating from a fundamental position of love. Or fear. Everything we do originates here. Love or Fear – that's it! We are either acting from a place of love for others: a true desire to see others cared for, to succeed, and to thrive. Or we are acting from a place of fear: distrustful, disrespectful and defensive, to protect ourselves. These are both very natural and common reactions to behavior.

This said, leaders don’t often stop to think, “Am I doing this out of a place of love, or fear?” Yet every choice that is made, every reaction, and every decision arises from one of these two places. Love or Fear. A follow up call to a potential sales client, for example. Are you worried that the deal might not go through (fear) or wanting your client to have the best service possible (love)? Checking in on a business partner: concerned about how they are doing (love) or searching to see if they are on your side of an issue (fear). A new work from home policy: trusting that people will behave professionally (love) or protecting the business from potential abuse (fear.)

So, a Leadership Challenge: Where are YOU operating from? Pick any recent business decision, even one you might have made today. Do you believe in the inherent goodness of people or are you protecting yourself from others? Do you believe your employees want to show up and do good work, or are you preoccupied with worry that they are not living up to your expectations? Having the courage to challenge your own operating biases could be a game changer as a leader! Identifying the root of your questioning and expectations, whether in love or fear can lead you to an “Ah Ha” moment for you and your leadership style.

How Your Values Can Improve Time Management

Often as I’m coaching, the challenge of effectively managing time has come up as a personal frustration and a business concern. Typically, a client has had years of trying to “be better” at time management and yet continues to find themselves late for meetings, missing deadlines or dropping the ball.

There are many, many tactics for managing your time. As one of my own coaches said, “Show me your calendar and I’ll tell you what you really care about.” Meaning, that we all have a tendency to book meetings and appointments first, and try to squeeze other parts of our life in the “spare time.” It is so easy to over-commit on a daily basis – you are not alone!

Being successful at managing your time is an easy, and enviable strength for many. But if it’s not yours, I’ve found that the best strategy is to connect your values to how you prioritize your time.

For example, a client of mine recently identified one of his core values as being trustworthy. He was then able to connect his desire to be a trustworthy business partner to people’s ability to trust him to show up on time and to follow through. His priorities have now changed. He is making time to get back to anyone he has made a promise to, and can be trusted to be on time to appointments and meetings. This link can be a powerful motivator, and shift how we view our to-do list.

How about you? Spend a few minutes thinking about what your core values are. How do they show up in your day-to-day tasks and the challenge of managing your time? Shift your priorities to match your values and become an efficient, successful manager of your time.