Team-Building One Tooth at a Time!

Recently, Scott and I worked with a small group of Dental Health Professionals on TEAM in the work-place. Here are some kind words the Event Organizer shared with us.

“Jeff, Thank you SO much for the session on Monday! I have heard from everyone that it was a great meeting. I played the song along with the worksheets/lyrics for a couple of our doctors – they loved it.” Lynda D.

It’s always nice to get positive feedback, and feel as though we touched the clay of those in attendance at an event. Thanks for your support Lynda!

Blessings for 2013.
“The Song Team.”

Caring for One Another, Especially Those Who Have No Voice

Times are challenging to us in many ways right now. Especially in light of Fridays’ tragic events in Connecticut, we find ourselves struggling with our emotions.

While volunteering with Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) last week I had a bit of a revelation. This organization has mastered many aspects of what it takes to be a successful “team.”

They actively partner with dozens of localized animal rescue groups around the country in order to utilize what local groups are often better positioned to do, than larger more centralized groups. Foster, train and place adoptable animals. With Egos put aside, ARC is able to travel around the country to a large degree as an organizing, galvanizing and specially trained rescue team for large and devastatingly tragic operations. They have fostered a network of volunteers around the country, who typically already are on the ground with local rescues. The volunteers jump to help and organize further volunteer forces when the need arises for a large operation, as is currently happening with the 50 or so dogs rescued from a dog-fighting ring in Middle TN.

It’s been a joy to see this operation in action over the course of a few rescue’s now. Though of course, we all wish it weren’t needed. The team at ARC knows how to cater to the strengths of their team members, as well as to the strengths of team members from local partner groups. Good works are done. Success in this case means animals saved, and hopefully in many cases, forever homes found. ARC’s mantra has long been “compassion in action.” Sounds like good advice for us all at this time. Thank you for reading, and happy holidays.

Sharing Article from My Friend, Dr. Gregg Steinberg. His Column "The Head Coach"

Politicians and pundits alike have called Ronald Reagan the “Great Communicator.” After watching the Spielberg movie last weekend, I firmly believe the first Republican who receives my vote for this moniker is Abraham Lincoln.

In one of the first scenes in the movie, a contentious black soldier questions President Lincoln as to why their race has not been promoted. He says black soldiers are dying for the cause just like white soldiers.

This seems highly irregular and a bit disrespectful, given the time and place. Many leaders would have gone on the defensive, wearing their egos on their sleeves, with a retort like, “How dare you!”

President Lincoln does the opposite: He disarms the soldier with a caring question as to what he plans on doing after the war.

“Lincoln” the movie centers around the passage of the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery. Most of the scenes illustrate how this change in the constitution was a very contentious issue of the day. Not everyone believed all men should be free.

But the movie is so much more. It shows the human side of Lincoln as well as his fatherly and husbandly sides. However, I was mesmerized by the illustration of how wonderful a communicator he really was.

One important lesson in being a great communicator is to not act defensive. It is so easy to protect your ego when someone makes a comment that can impale your fragile self.

Great communicators do not lash out, but rather use empathy to promote a connection. When that bridge is formed, communication will be facilitated. Lincoln demonstrated that time and time again in the movie, and as such, helped to get the 13th amendment passed during a very difficult time.

The second marvelous principle of communication showcased by Lincoln was how he told wondrous tales and used many proverbs to make his points. Many of the tales in the movie were based in fact. The screenplay was adapted from the book “Team of Rivals” by Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.

The scene I enjoyed the most in this regard was when Lincoln met one of his political rivals, senator Thaddeus Stevens. They shared a concern with bringing an end to slavery, but the difference was the method of change.

To make his point clear to Senator Stevens, as well as to the audience, Lincoln speaks about a compass directing us “True North.” Lincoln says that a compass may point us in the right direction but it does not tell us where the bogs and marshes will be along the way.

The point is clear: The righteous path is never easy and will come with many unforeseen obstacles.

Why do we continue to be so fascinated with Abraham Lincoln?

When you study Lincoln as a politician, communicator, and man, you soon come to realize that he is a sage for all time.

Going Camping…For the First Time in 20 Years.

This past weekend, my significant other and I met up with 5 total strangers from an “outdoor meetup” group we had found online. The mission? To take a rather challenging (for me) hike and camping trip (in tents…in December). A gorge called “Walls of Jericho” on the Alabama/TN. line was the destination.

I was the oldest in the group likely by 10 years, and the least experienced at this type of activity (by far more than is measurable). I was excited, but also a bit anxious. Would I be able to keep up while transporting a 35 pound pack on my back? What would it be like to NOT have a restroom to use late at night, in the dark and cold, while a pack of Coyotes howl in the distance? (They were loud and all too happy sounding by the way.)

I didn’t have all the proper gear, though my companion did. Also, though I love meeting new people, one never knows how those transactions will go,and I was going to be spending the next 48 hours with these folks in rather intimate and extreme situations.

One of the first things I realized rather quickly was that my fears about the rest of the members of our “expedition” were unfounded. There was no judgement passed on my less than professional collection of gear. Advice was given in mentoring fashion, rather than in superior fashion. Questions I asked were answered with grace. Amazing! We had no cell or internet signals out there on the trail. That was refreshing and a bit nerve-wracking simultaneously.

Upon reaching our destination in the gorge on day 1, we pitched camp as our first order of business to take advantage of our limited daylight hours. My partner and I had forgotten one key element of our tent set-up…support poles. Ahh..the jokes were rolling around in my head, and I was waiting for our new friends in arms to make some humorous comments at our expense. However, they were supportive of our efforts to use all the extra rope I had packed (I always pack rope in my car…never know when it will come in handy) to rig the tent between two trees. Then, one of our more experienced colleagues suggested we find a flexible branch or two in the scrub to take the place of our MIA support poles. It was brilliant and resourceful…and guess what? It worked!

I learned a few lessons on this trip.

1) Yoga has helped put me in better shaped than I’ve been in many years as far as strength and flexibility…BUT, I am out of shape as far as my cardio goes 🙂

2) People at their core, love to share their experiences with each other, and even lend a hand when at all possible. The desire to help each other, be communal…be a team is bred into us through the generations. Sadly, it’s been bludgeoned out of many of us in the world of business.

3) The supplies, pieces, or resources you need to succeed in your role in life..and at work are all around. We just need to have open eyes, open heart, and the ability to accept it when an olive branch….or a “tent” branch is extended our way as a gift. has just published a list of 100 Exemplary Sites for Future Leaders, and Write a Song, Build a Team has been included! The full list is available here:  We appreciate this honor.

The sites on the list are all great resources for people already in leadership positions, or those that are seeking a leadership role at a business.

We strive to provide our readers with useful information on leadership education and career opportunities, and this list is a further extension of that mission.

Do You Have a Vision, or Do You Have a Sleep Aid?

I hope you enjoy this excellent blog from my colleague Bill Stainton. for more information.

Typically when organizations hire me it’s because they want to produce results—more results; better results. (Although occasionally it’s because they really like the Beatles, and in that arena, I’m “the guy.”) One of the first questions I’ll ask them is, “What’s your Single Shared Vision?” The responses vary:

“To be the best.”
“To make money.”
“Umm…errr…duh…. What was the question again?”

Every now and then they’ll say, “You mean like a vision statement? Yeah, we got one of those. It’s hanging up somewhere in the lunchroom.” Then they take me to view the precious document. It’s printed on ancient parchment, in Olde English type (hand lettered, I believe, by Benedictine monks). Once the dust is wiped from the glass, I see that the paragraphs-long vision statement contains phrases like:

“To be recognized as a leader in quality and value where ingenuity and commitment will lead to superior financial and operation results….”
“To enhance the long-term value of the investment dollars entrusted to us by our shareholders….”
“To consistently strive to improve efficiency and productivity through implementing best practices….”

Folks, this is not a vision statement! It’s more of a sleep aid.

It certainly isn’t a Single Shared Vision. Let’s break that down. A Single Shared Vision is:

Single. This doesn’t mean unmarried. (Well, it does, but not in this context.) It means one. One overriding idea that drives all others. Some examples:
Microsoft: “A computer on every desk.”
NASA (in the 60s): “A man on the moon by the end of the decade.”
The Beatles: “Bigger than Elvis.”
Shared. As in “Everybody knows it; everybody owns it.” Posting something in the lunchroom doesn’t mean it’s been shared. That just means it’s been posted. A vision is truly shared when every employee knows it by heart, and truly believes in it.
A Vision. A vision is not a goal. Goals are what you accomplish in order to achieve your vision. A goal is something you do; a vision is something that excites you. You do a goal; you live a vision. You can see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, touch it. It’s what gets you up in the morning. Now, with that said, here’s a quick multiple choice quiz. Which of these would be more likely to excite you and get you up in the morning?
“To enhance the long-term value of the investment dollars entrusted to us by our shareholders….”
“To be bigger than Elvis!”

In an upcoming article, I’ll take you through my 7-Step System for discovering and clarifying your own Single Shared Vision. But for now I’ll leave you with two simple tests you can use to see if your Single Shared Vision is on the right track.

Test #1: The Bumper Sticker Test. This one’s easy. If your Single Shared Vision won’t fit on a bumper sticker, it’s too long.

Test #2: The “Cool” Test. What does this mean? It means that when you share your vision with your team (or even better, co-create it with your team), their reaction should be, “Cool!” Ideally, you want a vision that is so compelling that your team thinks, “Wow! We get to come to work and do that!”

A compelling, emotionally-rich Single Shared Vision is one of the best tools you can have if you really want to produce results—in your business and in your life!

The Team is Heading to Alabama

We’re packing up the van, and all 8 of us heading down to a large team-building event for a Federal Credit Union down south of here.

The amount and diversity of talent on this team is incredible.  Our writer/facilitators for this trip include writers of hit country songs, hit pop songs, songs that have appeared in countless TV and Radio shows, writers who have written songs for the terminally ill, a former major label recording artist and much more!  I am humbled to be a part of this “A-Team!” Guitars tuned, armed with songs, stories and of course KEY TAKEAWAYS!  All aboard.


Great examples of "team" being the total of sum of the parts…

This past weekend, the European Golf team overcame a large deficit against a star-studded American side to win the Ryder Cup. They did it with passion, purpose and intention. They did it methodically, and as the underdog they did it as a unit, rather than as a collection of individual stars.

Tonight is the last night of regular season baseball in the major leagues. My hometown Baltimore Orioles are in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. They still have an outside chance to win their division away from the vaunted NY Yankees. Either way, this team has defied all expectations this year. Predicted by most experts to be a last place team “again,” they have won with a collection of “spare parts” masterfully assembled and coached. They have done so by playing to the strengths of each player, rather than focusing on their weaknesses. Good coaches and managers in sports….much like good leaders in business, know that playing to the strengths of their team is the way to succeed….rather than the traditional western way of doing business which often focuses on yearly evaluations geared towards focusing on improving employee weaknesses. Instead, these leaders focus on putting their employees, their players in the optimum position to succeed. The Oakland A’s have done the same thing this year as well. Won as a team, largely devoid of stars.

Team-building….team improvement…team fostering….team leading…creating a culture of listening and collaboration where the team comes before individual glory. Oldest cliche in the book…but it’s still true, and still real.

Our team is looking forward to jumping on the van this weekend and heading down to Alabama for a huge team-building event with Listerhill Credit Union. Have a great day all.