Posts Tagged ‘strategic planning’

The Future is Yours

I just did a program for a large multinational manufacturing company, who has been in business for over 70 years. My client’s theme for the conference was … The Future is Yours. In preparing for the program, I decided to do some research on great quotes and statements that have to do with our future. I ran across a statement made by the esteemed economist Dr. Lowell Catlett that really surprised me. He said they did a study in 1960 and again in 2010, which involved over 7,000 economists, that rated their accuracy for forecasting future economic trends; their accuracy rate was 47%. He elaborated on that statement, saying: “What I just told you is, you can flip a coin and beat 7,000 economists by 3%.“ He concluded his point by saying, “You can’t predict the future, but you sure can prepare for it.”

So, I thought I would share with you some thoughts/quotes on “Achieving Success in Your Future.” I think these quotes will help to give you a productive perspective on addressing your success in the future.

The future is unknown, but a somewhat predictable unknown. To look to the future we must first look upon the past. That is where the seeds of the future were planted.Albert Einstein

Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to … doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you imagined. – Anon

I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.George Burns

The more you take responsibility for your past and present, the more you are able to create the future you seek. – Anon

Your future is created by what you do today … Not tomorrow. – Anon

The best way to predict the future is to create it. – Abraham Lincoln

If I had to pick my favorite quote of all of them, it would be the second one: “Just because the past didn’t turn out like you wanted it to, doesn’t mean your future can’t be better than you imagined.” I don’t care where you are in life, how low you have gotten, or how bad it has been … tomorrow you can start fresh, creating a better future. All great achievement begins with deciding what you want and then dedicating yourself to achieving it. So, my perspective on having future success is learning from our past.


If you don’t apply the lessons you have learned from your past … you will never improve your future. There is no rule that says your past is your destiny. You possess the power to create a great future: we all do. Remember, your future success is dependent on your present efforts … so, do something today that you will be happy you did tomorrow.

Let your regrets fuel your future …

so your future will have fewer regrets.




Barn Movers

In 1981 Donna and Herman Ostry bought a farm in the small town of Bruno, Nebraska, about 60 miles outside of Omaha. The farm came with a big barn that had been built back in the 1920’s and also had a nice little creek that flowed through their property. The creek was both a blessing and a problem for the Ostrys. It was great to have readily available water for their farm animals but it also flooded a lot during heavy rains. The barn floor seemed to always be wet and muddy and then in 1988 they had a huge flood where the water rose about 30 inches up the side of the barn walls.

 The Ostrys desperately needed to move the barn to higher ground but the cost to contract with a company that has both the capability and equipment to move a barn of this size was prohibitive.  One night sitting around the dinner table, Herman Ostry commented that if he had enough people he could pick the barn up and move it to higher ground. Everyone laughed off the comment as silly … everyone except his son Mike.

I wonder if “young” Mike knew that people scoffed at the idea of traveling 30 miles per hour on a railroad car. People actually thought that traveling that fast would stop the circulation of the blood. I wonder if “young” Mike knew that Eli Whitney was laughed at when he showed his first cotton gin, that Thomas Edison had to install his electric light free of charge in an office building before anyone would look at it, that Westinghouse was considered a fool for suggesting you could stop a train with wind, or that Samuel Morse had to plead before 10 Congresses before they would even look at his telegraph (which revolutionized communication). Maybe “young” Mike just thought … WHY NOT … and then he set out to figure out a way to make his Dad’s statement a reality.

Young, inexperienced, doesn’t-know-any-better Mike did some calculations and figured out that the barn weighed about 17,000 pounds. He then figured out that he could design a steel grid system that he could place under the barn that would weigh another 3,000 pounds. So, the total weight that would need to be lifted was 10 tons. When you think of that amount of weight to be moved, you usually think of a giant crane … not a whole bunch of people. But “young” Mike figured if he could gather up about 350 people, they would all need to only be able to lift approximately 50 pounds each.

Mike presented his calculations to his Dad and they both thought it would work. Mike and his Dad got a little lucky on the timing to present their idea to their small town. Nebraska was getting ready to celebrate its centennial and the town of Bruno had put together a committee of townspeople to decide on different things to do for the celebration. Mike and his Dad convinced the town to make the barn moving a part of the celebration. The word got out and over 4,000 people from 11 states witnessed the event.  Here is the YouTube link to the actual event.

A little before 11 a.m. on July 30th, 1988 … in front of the local television cameras, 344 people moved the barn 143 feet up a gentle slope to its new foundation. All in all, it took 3 minutes to move the barn. So, the next time somebody hits you with an idea that you think is silly or maybe even impossible … think again, and never discount the POWER of TEAMWORK.

Re-live this idea again in your head. Someone in a meeting says, “Let’s move a 17,000 pound barn, 143 feet, up a slope, and do it in less than 3 minutes, using no machinery.”  Now that idea sounds pretty nuts, ridiculous, stupid, impossible, and far-fetched to me. But a need, a desire, a creative mind, a well- designed plan and a giant team, all working together, made it happened.

 Teamwork Really Makes the Dream Work 


YOU Control Your Destiny by the Choices YOU Make

I am going to throw a list of questions at you and let you reflect on your answers. Now, some of these questions might not be applicable to you at all, which is good. BUT, if one or more of these questions strikes a nerve when you read them, then you may have some work to do.

Why do you waste time?

Why don’t you rest more?

Why don’t you eat better?

Why do you procrastinate?

Why don’t you laugh more?

Why don’t you forgive more?

Why don’t you exercise more?

Why aren’t you more efficient?

Why are you so critical of others?

Why don’t you save more money?

Why do you waste time listening to gossip?

Why don’t you take more time for yourself?

Why are you sometimes or all the time … late?

Why don’t you say what you are really feeling?

Why do you put so much pressure on yourself?

Why do you spend more money than you should?

Why are you sometimes or always in a bad mood?

Why do you sometimes or always doubt yourself?

Why do you stay in a job or relationship you hate?

Why do you say yes when you really want to say no?

Why don’t you spend more time with the ones you love?

Why don’t you treat everyone with the same respect you want?

Why don’t you read something every day that will make you better?

Why don’t you tell the people you care about that you care about them?

The REALITY OF YOUR ANSWER to each question is very telling.  If the answer to any one of the questions is because YOU have chosen to do so … then YOU can change it, alter it or correct it. Quit blaming others for what YOU HAVE CHOSEN. Example: You will eat better when YOU DECIDE that it is important to your health TO DO SO. But, unfortunately most people wait until they have medical problems and a doctor puts restrictions on their diet before they change their eating habits. Look at each question and then decide what is important to YOU. Your life is not a dress rehearsal. You’ve got one shot at it, so try and make it your BEST SHOT.

 The day you … Realize / Acknowledge / Accept … the fact that

YOU control your destiny by the choices YOU make

is the day you start taking control your life.

It’s Okay to Change Your Mind

What is so wrong with changing your mind? Nothing! If you made a decision that didn’t work out … then change your mind. If your life or business isn’t going the way you want it to go … then change your mind and go a different direction. No matter what is going on in your life or what has gone on in your life, in every situation, regardless of the circumstances, you have the ability to alter the way you feel about it by allowing yourself to change your mind.

 So many people worry, fret, cry, or stress-out over things they shouldn’t. You have an incredible power available to you … anytime you want it … that can make you feel better, and put you on track to a better day; the ability (power) of changing your mind.

 When you change your mind about anything it transforms how you now perceive it. It puts you in a better frame of mind and you now start seeing how you can make things work rather than dwell in the debilitating mood of self-defeat; changing your mind becomes and energizing force. Making a decision to alter your course becomes a catalyst for emerging ideas. Your mind wants a direction, a course, a decision and when you give it that clarity it rewards you with new hope, inspiration and energy; you quit floundering in your indecision and flourish in your new direction.

The billion dollar company Zappos, who grew from $0 in sales to $1 billion in just ten years, changed their business plan four times. They learned from what was going on and then changed their mind, changed their direction and changed their outcome. In management, you might make a decision that didn’t work out so well or was poorly received. You can use that bad decision to your benefit by simply saying you have reconsidered your decision because of the input you have heard from everyone, changed your mind, and have decided to go in a new direction.

 Not every decision you make will be right. Realize that and understand smart people and effective managers are the ones who are willing to CHANGE THEIR MIND and move on. Stubbornness and inflexibility can kill a company and a career.

Change Your Mind

Hit the Reset Button

Start Over From a More Informed Position

New Beginnings Bring on New Energy, New Ideas, and New Results


You spend lots of money on advertising for customers, training employees how to politely deal with customers, delivering the best product or service possible and then somewhere along the process of dealing with the customer “SOMEONE” drops the ball. Someone has a bad day, or gets frustrated, or is too busy, or thinks that’s not their job, or they treat the customer rudely, impolitely, disrespectfully or just have a PERSNICKETY attitude and you LOSE a customer.

But hey, it was only one customer; no big deal. REALLY? In today’s social media world, it is never just one customer. Customers now have the opportunity to spread the word with just one click on a computer or phone and BAM … the story of bad, terrible, awful service is out.  (Bad news travels fast)

Henry Ford said, “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” That statement needs to be pervasive throughout your organization; every employee needs to understand where their paycheck comes from. The moment an employee has any form of interaction with a customer a BELL needs to go off in their head, reminding them of the critical importance of what is about to take place. The customer has made a decision to do business with you at this moment … how “they/you” do, will determine if the customer will do business with your firm again.

It has been said that opportunity never knocks twice at any person’s door. So, you must always take advantage of your first opportunity and deliver. It is not just in customer service that Persnickety, Rude, Impolite, or Disrespectful attitudes can hurt you. Many a career/relationship has been delayed, altered or destroyed by a bad attitude.

I try and look at every opportunity in business from a ONE CHANCE perspective. I have ONE CHANCE to do it right – ONE CHANCE to impress – ONE CHANCE to win them over – ONE CHANCE to deliver. May I suggest you make it a theme in your company to approach every opportunity, task, job, interaction or request from a ONE CHANCE perspective.

A good ending starts with a good beginning

so make your first impression count.

You have only ONE CHANCE to do that.

How Would You/They … Describe You?

If you were going to hire someone, what personal distinguishing characteristics would you like for them to have? Southwest Airlines strives to hire people with a sense of humor. They found that if you have a sense of humor you thrive during change, remain creative under pressure, work more effectively, play more enthusiastically, and stay healthier in the process. The CEO of Starbucks once was quoted as saying, “We hire for smiles and we promote for smiles.”

What if you were looking for a job and in your interview they handed you the following list and asked you to put a check mark by the characteristics which best suit you … which ones would you leave blank? (I realize some of these are similar … but just go with me on this)

__ Knowledgeable    __Enthusiastic      __Energetic   __Happy       __Prompt      __Dedicated

__ Accommodating  __Resourceful      __Upbeat       __Caring       __Attentive   __Gracious

__ Well-Mannered   __Professional     __ Pleasant     __Friendly    __Focused    __Polite

__ Sense-of-humor  __Approachable   __Efficient      __Kind          __Helpful      __Fast

__Go-Getter              __Observant         __Realistic      __Tactful      __Truthful    __Likeable    

To me, success in life and business is all about learning how to get better and then using that knowledge to improve. A lot of times having a personal scorecard or a way to rate yourself can really help identify where you might need some help. Let’s go back to the list for a moment and look at some of the characteristics you didn’t check. If you didn’t check HAPPY does that mean you are sad, depressed, moody, grumpy, glum, irritable or what? If you didn’t check PROMPT does that mean you are always late? If you aren’t TACTFUL, then I guess you must be rude.

Just look at the implications of what the opposite of these words mean. If you aren’t GRACIOUS does that mean you might be nasty, mean, sarcastic or hateful? If you didn’t check ENERGETIC, does that mean you are lazy or slow? By looking at the opposite of what each word means, this list starts to take on a whole new perspective. The answers to “which ones are you” now become very profound.

My challenge to you is … why not be all of them? That doesn’t mean that you are going to be all of these things … ALL OF THE TIME. But, you do need to recognize the value of them and always strive to be identified as a person who has these powerful characteristics. I had a person one time ask me, “Rob, are you always in a good mood?” My response was, “No, but I am always trying to get there.”

Now, go back and take another look at your list of checked characteristics and ask yourself, would my five closest friends, my boss and three business associates REALLY agree with me? If you feel strongly that they would agree, then keep it checked. If not, then start working on making it so they would agree.

Remember, the first step to improving is identifying your faults.
Your journey then begins to correcting them.

The Power of the Question … Why?

In many companies there are policies, procedures, manuals and rules that people don’t have a clue why they are still doing them. There are so many things we do because … That’s the way we always done it. We could learn a lot from a three year old when it comes to how to cull out unnecessary “stuff” in running a business. If you tell a three year old to do something, before you get the words out of your mouth, you will hear, “Why?”

Is the three-year-old asking that question to annoy you or are they just trying to drive you crazy? In most cases, they don’t know why, but it’s our job to have the answer. Now, you can be the big, bad parent and just say, “Because I said so,” and make them follow your request blindly with no explanation … but, that technique doesn’t work very effectively in the business world.

Your people need to have the answer to the “Why” questions. But, if you can’t answer their challenge with good responses; if you are not really certain why that rule is in place or that procedure is being followed, then it’s time to GET the answer or CHANGE what you are doing. Here is an example of not having a good response to “Why.”

A delegation of artillery officers from NATO were visiting their British allies. The foreign officers were treated to an incredible display of motorized artillery in action by the Brits. After all the explosions and recoiling of the guns had died down, a rather confused NATO officer approached one of the British officers and asked why one of the soldiers in each of the artillery teams stood at attention throughout the entire demonstration doing absolutely nothing.

“Why” the British officer responded, “That is team member number 6. He always stands at attention when the gun is in action.” The NATO officer then responded. “If that is the case, why do you need six men on each of the gun teams? Wouldn’t five be enough?”

There was no immediate answer from the Brits. Later on, curiosity getting the best of them, they decided to find out. After hours and hours of research looking through volumes of military field manuals dating back decades, they finally came upon their answer. It seems the original job of gun team member 6 was to hold the horses’ reins that had pulled the gun into position. Just how many years (decades) had passed since they no longer used horses to pull the large artillery guns around?
Accept “Why” questions as opportunities to
streamline operations, improve efficiencies and increase profitability.