It's a BIG world out there.

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge. This has become a yearly favorite for me because of how much I learn as I go through the Challenge myself. The most challenging week for me was looking ahead and considering what the future holds. So many options and so many opportunities to grow and evolve. As always, I had to remind myself of two things:

  1. Focus on the things that I do really well.
  2. Know the things I don’t do well and rely on really talented people to accelerate into those spaces.

This is also the time of year when I join consulting and people professionals from around the world to attend the R3 Conference on revealing, releasing and realizing human potential. The purpose is to discover, learn and connect so that we can help our clients consider, explore and implement innovative approaches to the most complex part of their business - people.

Expansion

Attending conference each year is about my expansion. It’s about increasing my awareness and ultimately the awareness of my clients and you as a part of the Thoughtwave Community.

The discovery of patterns, innovations, relevant information, data and perspectives of other leaders is why this is a “won’t miss” event on my calendar. For 17 plus years, I’ve gained an idea that significantly impacted my thought process, my growth and positively impacted progression and results for my clients.

My objective is to help multiply leadership mindsets that focus on fueling excellence and the purposeful development of people in the workplace.

It’s a BIG World Out There

One of the most valuable parts of the conference for me are the connections and relationships with my colleagues from Australia, Brazil, Holland, Ireland, the UK and Turkey.

It’s a big world out there and people like Trevor, Alex, Jared, Hank, Padrig, Sarah and Hassan all connect to a much larger picture and international ideas related to business and the world-wide dynamics of people. These aren’t just my colleagues, they’re my friends and each year I look forward to seeing and learning from them.

Causing people to think beyond boundaries is a cornerstone of my work and relationships with people. No one person or country has all of the best ideas. Collaboration brings together so much more than the isolation of our thoughts, views and insights.

A Demonstrated Ability

In order to claim a broad awareness and understanding, you must first demonstrate your ability to go beyond the boundaries that you’ve established for yourself.

I applaud the longevity of service among leaders in companies, but not at the expense of ideas generated by a broader view. In today’s global marketplace and ever-changing business climate, it’s not enough to repeat the same year of experience 25 times and believe that it represents innovation. It’s also not enough to define the boundaries of your world within a 50-mile radius and believe you possess a global mindset.

What conference reminds me of each year is that building your brain is a focused and deliberate effort. One worth making because investing in yourself provides the highest rate of return.

Next week I’m going to share 5 important ideas from the R3 Conference that you’ll want to consider as you develop people and shape the remainder of your year.

Final Thought

We’re through the first month of the year and 1/3rd of the first quarter is complete. No time to waste in your relentless pursuit of excellence.

Read books, social feeds, online sources, magazines, newspapers, articles, and whatever else you can get your hands on.
Listen to podcasts, interviews and more.
Watch documentaries, the news, and the people around you.

#Thoughtstarter

What are you reading and listening to as a part of building your brain in 2020? How do you need to expand your view? What steps are you taking to make this happen? What is your single favorite source for information about the world around you?

Let me know, along with your thoughts, in the comments.

With awareness,
Brent


Challenge Yourself to Look Ahead

Measures of success. They’re quantifiable, tangible, and/or visible methods for identifying that your target is being met or exceeded. They’re how I’m encouraging all of you to identify your own excellence in 2020.

You’ve reflected. Now it’s time to plan using actionable steps. How will you be relentless in your pursuit of excellence?

This final week’s questions are aimed to help you develop action steps to achieving a measurable goal.

Get the workbook here.

Relentlessly,
Brent


Challenge Yourself to Reflect

Purpose. It’s the difference between thinking generally and thinking intentionally. Reflecting on our lives allows us to identify both our strengths and limitations. If we don’t take the time to purposefully reflect, little growth will occur. Reflection is our own opportunity to identify areas for improvement. Dedicated reflection is telling yourself, “My own evolution matters.”

Reflect purposefully.
Reflect deliberately.
Reflect intentionally.

This week’s #thoughtstarters are intended to help you reflect intentionally on 2019 so that you can challenge yourself more deliberately in 2020.

Get the workbook here.

Relentlessly,
Brent

2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge


Challenge Yourself to be Relentless in the Pursuit of Excellence

I've provided the Thoughtstarter Challenge for four years now, and this is by far the most exciting. Why? Because I’ve elevated it. Why? Because my community of readers deserves it. I’m on a mission to relentlessly pursue excellence so that I may provide excellence in 2020. The mission starts now.

This week I’m challenging you to define what it means to relentlessly pursue excellence - to define excellence in all areas of your life.

Get the workbook here.

Relentlessly,
Brent

2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge


Where Have You Been and Where Are You Going?

When we arrive at this time of the year, there’s a feeling of shock that it’s rolled around again so quickly. Since time is consistent, there’s really no difference in the speed from one date to another. We have our perception, a constantly changing landscape and pace of activity to thank for this perceived acceleration. This is no different than when time seems to stand still and we can’t explain why.

There’s no doubt that this time of year also brings about a heightened reflection or consideration about where we find ourselves. It’s a time of year that seems to bring the personal measuring tape out the toolbox.

The measurement of personal awareness is the reason we always need to be asking ourselves three critical questions.

  1. Where have I been?
  2. Where am I at?
  3. Where am I going?

Where We’ve Been

At the end of 2018, I shared a blog in which I said I want 2019 to be filled with wildly crazy success. I encouraged each of you to send me a topic to write about that’s important to you. I asked you to send me the biggest challenges you faced professionally this year, especially within family business. Through your support in this mission, we were able to continue to grow our community of leaders and readers who impact privately-held and family-owned businesses.

At the end of 2018 what personal and professional goals were you setting to achieve in 2019?

Where We Are

2019 was a year of wildly crazy success. With the support of the Thoughtwave community, I was able to address more relevant topics: offboarding, the over-casualization of the office, and forgotten business etiquette to name a few (more on that next week). Through social media, we brought recognition to over 30 family businesses across the United States. I traveled from coast to coast working with clients and helping their businesses grow into future generations. I advised many of my coaching clients as they stepped into executive roles. And here at PDI, we moved into a larger office that will allow us to facilitate new types of engagements.

Did you achieve the goals you set out to accomplish in 2019? Why or why not?

Where We’re Going

With this success, I’m ready and motivated to bring you more. It will all start with the 2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge on January 6th. This is only the beginning.

In 2020 you can look forward to the release of my new book, the acceptance of applications to an elite LinkedIn group for emerging executives, and the release of new resources to move you and your business to the next level.

After reflecting on 2019, what new goals are you setting for 2020? 

My theme for 2020?
The relentless pursuit of excellence. 

So I hope you’re ready. Ready for me to support and challenge you. Ready for me to help you achieve results.

With enthusiasm for the year ahead.

Brent

P.S. If you know someone who would be interested in becoming a part of the Thoughtwave Community, please forward this link to them:
https://perpetualdevelopment.com/get-started/
We’ll make sure they receive the next issue.


Resolution vs. Evolution

Here we are again. The time of year when many people will begin thinking about their New Year’s Resolution(s). While I’m not a fan of resolutions, you’ll find me fully supporting your evolution(s).

The Road of Intention 

How many of us, myself included, have made a firm decision to do, or not to do, something only to watch it drift away and produce no measurable results? “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Growing up, this was an expression used by my parents to call attention to the gap between intention(s) and action(s).

Forget the statistics that show how many people succeed or fail in following through on the resolutions they make. All you need to do is look at the number of people who start something in January and then look at the number of people who have continued or stopped by March and you’ll have first-hand evidence that the road to failure is paved with good intentions.

Intent Doesn’t Define the Process

Resolution is about the intent. Evolution is about the process. Intent alone doesn’t define the process required for achievement and accomplishment. Consider these very simple resolutions:

  • I’m going to meet all of my sales goals and objectives.
  • I’m going to lose weight.
  • I’m going to build better relationships.
  • I’m going to eat differently.

Now ask yourself the ever-important one-word question. How? 

Defining your how is what allows you to immediately increase the odds of having your intent become your new reality… of having your resolution turn into your evolution.

Valuing Self-Initiative

When it comes to your professional goals and objectives, never under-estimate the value of self-initiative. It’s better that you ask and answer the question of how for yourself. After all, if the person you work for or report to has to do this for you, they may ask two equally important questions:

  1. Why do I have to consistently do that person’s thinking for them?
  2. Why do I need them if they won’t or can’t think for themselves?

 

You Don’t Want to be That Person

It’s easy to spot people who have given more attention to their resolution(s) than their evolution(s). Here are five phrases that you want to avoid being used in the same sentence with your name:

  1. Long on ideas and short on the know-how to get it done.
  2. All fluff no stuff.
  3. All talk no action.
  4. Style over substance.
  5. Understands the what, doesn’t define the how and why.

 

Defining and Differentiating You 

Separating yourself from the masses in a positive way requires that you define how you will differentiate yourself.

As we approach 2020, my focus is on helping you maximize you. Encouraging your awareness. Challenging you to evolve, advance and develop your thought process. Considering your perspectives and understanding what you’re confronting. Asking tough questions that need to be asked by someone who’s coming alongside you and helping you...requiring you to answer the question of how.

This is at the core of defining you so others don’t. Making sure that you bring all of the pieces together. It’s time to stop focusing on tactics alone when an individual strategy is what’s required to support the complexities that your growth and evolution present.

Your awareness is the starting point for converting your intent to action. The insights you gain are what lead to a more complete understanding of choices, better decisions and outcomes.

You can start this process by asking yourself a few #Thoughtstarters:

  1. What three things do I value most and why?
  2. What drives me every day? Why?
  3. What is one thing that is truly unique about me?
  4. In what area of my life have I shown the greatest amount of growth?
  5. Where have I limited my evolution? Why?

This is about helping you focus relentlessly on you and the distinct competitive advantage that your intentions offer if you commit to the process of how you’ll achieve them.  So stay tuned, there’s more to come.

With purpose,
Brent

P.S. Am I the only person who isn’t crazy about resolutions? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


How to inspire commitment through accountability

If you lead people, you’d better be skilled in the ability to inspire commitment.

When you read that statement one or two common assumptions may come to mind.

  1. I do that every day, it’s automatic.
  2. It would be obvious to me if I weren’t, therefore I am.

That would lead to a really important question. If these statements are accepted as certain and without proof, how do you know whether you’re truly achieving your objective?

Answer: You don’t.

Forget the countless words of persuasion or the fake representation of concern. Despite what some believe, inspiring commitment requires leaders to go beyond an unbound enthusiasm, delusional optimism or tireless effort.

Behavioral Blindness

Think about a time when you’ve entered a room that’s completely dark. Your hand in front of your face, can’t see a thing dark. No matter how hard you try or how long you wait for your eyes to adjust, you can’t see.

In that moment and space, you have no sense of proportion or grounding. You can’t gain a reference point. You’re literally blinded by the darkness of the room in which you find yourself.

What if we were to identify that room as leadership? What if the people in that room couldn’t gain awareness or understanding? They know leaders are in the room with them and yet they can’t see or feel the leadership necessary to bring clarity and light to the situation.

If you’ve ever found yourself in a room that’s this dark, think about the fear and uncertainty that start to overtake your thoughts. Think about the hesitation that begins to creep in around decisions. That kind of behavioral blindness is concerning, overwhelming and frustrating to people.

A Purposeful Look

Within companies, among leaders, there’s often too much time being wasted on words of inspiration in the belief that this is what inspires commitment from people. Within organizations where this is the case; people and the performance they deliver would benefit from less words and more accountability.

Inspiring commitment begins when leaders are expected to take a purposeful look inside themselves and measure how they’re bringing energy and influence to people through accountability. Accountability first for themselves, their actions and decisions then for others.

Consider this perspective:

Every time you confront a challenge, the problem can’t be with someone else. The first thing you need to do is explore how you’re contributing to the problem.

Here’s an interesting thought a client recently shared with me. This comment was made to him during a development coaching session he was having with one of his key leaders.

“Accountability feels like an attack when you’re not ready to acknowledge how your behavior impacts others.” 

The starting point for curing behavioral blindness is increasing self-awareness. That has to be followed by a commitment to apply and measure your progression and the progression of those you lead. The leader he was speaking with had awareness in this comment. The next step would be for him to recognize that his behavior does impact others and that means he needs to hold himself more accountable and hold the people that work for him more accountable.

Being aware is only one part of the equation. What inspires commitment in people is the modeling of accountability from yourself and from those you lead. This prevents people from finding themselves in a dark room full of fear and uncertainty where they’re constantly concerned, overwhelmed and frustrated.

Thoughtstarter

Take a purposeful look inside your leadership. How are you inspiring the commitment of the people you lead through accountability?

Be accountable. It matters.

Brent

How have you seen accountability inspire performance firsthand? Your thoughts make a difference.


The Thoughtstarter Challenge is changing

Every fall for the past three years, my team and I have brought you the Thoughtstarter Challenge to help you maximize you by thinking deliberately and then implementing purposefully.

Change and Evolution

While the fall often brings a dose of energy to organizations, we wanted to change things up this year. This past summer I wrote about the evolution occurring at Perpetual Development. As a part of that evolution, we acknowledged that doing the same thing day after day, or year after year, with a limited awareness as to why, does nothing to maximize potential or break through boundaries.

We know why we created the Thoughtstarter challenge, but we didn’t have a concrete reason for doing it in the fall which is why we’re shifting it this year.

How It's Changing

To start, you won’t be seeing the Thoughtstarter Challenge until after the New Year. Rather than closing out the year with the Challenge, we’ve elected to have it lead off 2020, so that you can start your year with a fresh sense of clarity. We think it’ll be the perfect addition to your January.

Additionally, we’re evolving the accompanying workbook to be more user-friendly. You'll still see the same question and answer format, and now you can track your progress and discover activities that let you take what you learn and put it into action. 

Lastly, the 2020 Thoughtstarter Challenge will push you in ways it hasn’t before. It’s more personal,  a bit more raw, and will require you to think outside of your comfort zone. The theme for 2020 is the relentless pursuit of excellence.

I’m excited to share this new experience with you in 2020.

In the meantime, follow along on Instagram.

With Purpose,

Brent

P.S. What happened to fall? We seem to have skipped ahead to winter in many parts of the country which has us prematurely thinking about the holidays. How do you stay motivated as we move into the holiday season? Share your insights with us in the comments and we’ll share them in a future Thoughtwave.


Is it really success if you don’t love each other in the end?

There’s a unique dynamic within family business. When your parent is your boss and your siblings are your coworkers, you’re bound to encounter struggles, victories, and other unique situations. These are the dynamics that those who aren’t in the business of family business could never imagine. This week, Brent, Trudy (Brent’s wife) and Alyssa (Brent’s daughter) are sitting down to discuss what it’s like working together in family business.

Individuals in family business often comment that they believe working in the business is actually more difficult than working outside of it. Do you believe this to be true? Why?

Brent:
Without question. When you blend the feeling and emotion of people who are related with the objectivity and level of commitment the business requires, you have the potential for complexity. It’s easy to say that the business has to come first. It’s much harder to practically understand and act on what that means. This is the constant battle that the business has the potential to wage in the family.

Trudy:
I think that this depends on your role in the family and your role in the business. As a wife, I work in a different dynamic than the children in the business. The most difficult aspect is the comfort level you have with your family. You feel you can say anything and everyone will be ok. You sometimes speak to your family in a tone that you may not use with others. Remembering that as a family member, we still have responsibilities as an employee, and both need to be respected. There are also times that you may feel more accountability to outside organizations because you feel like the family will be more lenient or tolerant when you do not perform, or make mistakes. There has to be an understanding of excellence in performance in a family business that is equal to any outside organization you may work with.

Alyssa:
I find this to be true because of communication dynamics. When you work with family there is significantly more context to your communication habits. While this can be a blessing at times; like when you feel as if you can read each other’s minds, it can also be frustrating when you feel like all of your past selves are on display in conversations as well.

How does working together in the business impact your relationships with one another outside of the business?

Brent: 
When you recognize that there’s no magical on-off switch to commitment, you can clearly understand the potential for a relational impact that’s both positive and negative. There are more days where personal and professional relationships are clear and contributive both at work and at home. I enjoyed working in my mom’s business growing-up and I genuinely enjoy working with family today.  There are however those moments, situations or approaches that have the ability to move everyone towards engaged emotion and away from reaction control. Having the self-awareness to understand which is which is what allows us to keep each other whole and valued as people and as members of the team. Working with family requires vigilance and awareness and it requires that you ask this question: Is it really success if you don’t love each other in the end?

Trudy:
There are times this is very difficult. I like to tease that he is the boss at work, and I am the boss at home. But realistically, it requires an awareness of roles both professionally and personally. Recognizing and remembering that we are on the same team is important.  It can be challenging to keep work at an appropriate focus level when we are spending time outside the office. You never leave work at the office when you own your own business, and it’s even more difficult when the family also shares in the passion for the business. It’s easy to talk shop at any time of the day or week. Patience with each other and open communication is important when the roles collide. Shifting of hats from boss to husband, or from office manager to wife is important so that you feel mutually respected and equal when we are outside the business.

Alyssa:
I’d say that working with my dad has actually improved our relationship outside of work. We both like working and being able to connect over business topics works well for us. We can challenge each other in a different way than we could before working together. Plus, he works so much that he’s quite hard to get ahold of outside of our scheduled calls. (He would refute and say I don’t answer my phone on the weekends, which is in part true because I’m normally riding my bike to lunch and around the city).

Alyssa, your dad commented in his book that sometimes he still sees you at 16 years old rather than as a professional with your own skillset. What do you do to remind him of who you are now?

Alyssa
This used to bother me more than it does now. I used to feel like I had to step out from under the shadow of him seeing me as a younger version of myself so that I could be valued as a professional. Now, I can appreciate the fact that I will always be his daughter and he carries perceptions that I can’t change or control. To help shift some of those lingering perceptions though, I continue to focus on defining my own identity and being visible in new spaces. It helps that I’m not a full-time employee and I have built my own business outside of my work with PDI. Having passions for similar topics but wanting to use them in vastly different ways for completely unique audiences has been a fun evolution as well. I’ve been able to take so many things I’ve learned from him throughout my life and apply it to new spaces that are interesting to me. As I continue to expand in multiple directions so do his perceptions and my patience.

Trudy, what is it like playing the role of Brent’s wife and his colleague?

Trudy:
Brent differentiates each role of mine with his clients. He introduces me as his colleague in business settings when his intent is to establish my own credibility as a representative of Perpetual Development, not as his wife. It takes an awareness on both parts to respect every hat we wear together, and how that needs to be represented in each situation. I am fortunate in my professional life to have an amazing role model, mentor and colleague in Brent. He values my opinion, and we work together as colleagues that can support each other and rely on each other's expertise and strengths when needed. I am a very proud wife, and it’s important that he knows that I support him as my husband, a provider, and a father to our children as well as a colleague. And in the long run, this is the most important to me. I truly get the best of both worlds.

Brent, was becoming a family business intentional?

Brent:
It would be well scripted to say yes and that would be completely inaccurate. Becoming a business was first about survival and it has continually progressed to thriving. Becoming a family business requires two essential ingredients. First, there must be family members who are interested in being a part of the business. Second, those family members must align with a defined role that contributes to the company. When family businesses are not intentional, it usually shows through a collection of family members who think entitlement first and contribution second. I’m thankful to say that Perpetual Development became a family business because the required ingredients were/are present.

Alyssa, it’s important to recognize that you work with your dad on contract rather than as a direct employee. Why is this? 

Alyssa:
We’ve always been clear that I don’t want to work in the family business full time. I’ve watched my dad build this business for most of my life which meant I learned the value of working for myself from a young age. As a result, I was fortunate enough to start my own business right out of college and I love what I’m creating. However, I also love my dad and since our spaces and skills complement each other nicely I enjoy that I can support his business and challenge him to consider new ways of doing things. He does the same for me and that seems to work well for us.

We’re funny because we’re so similar in some regards yet vastly different in some of our core values and driving forces. Working with my dad on a contract basis allows me the freedom and independence I desire but grants me the pleasure and joy of seeing him continue to evolve a business he’s so passionate about.

Brent, how will Perpetual Development continue to grow as a family business?

Brent:
I’ve had the privilege to work within businesses that have had two family members involved and I’ve worked with a company that had 42 family members participating in the organization. Interestingly, both of these businesses are large companies both by the number of people employed and the total sales volume. Evolving as a family business doesn’t necessarily require more family members. The growth of the business is fueled by the expansion of opportunities, causing leaders to think, providing exceptional guidance and limit assumptions about how all of this will happen. Growth has been, and will continue to be, fueled by awareness and understanding that helps our clients arrive at better decisions and outcomes.

Trudy, what do you do to help separate family time from business time? 

Trudy:
Set parameters. In business, there are expectations of performance and commitment to the business.  When you work together in the business, you need to also set expectations and commitments personally. It’s difficult to not talk about the business when you are spending family time together. Part of being able to do that is to schedule time together during the workweek to discuss work issues, so you have business covered and can focus on the family because the work topics have been addressed at another time. We have hobbies that we share, and when it’s time to relax, we do that. We have to plan our time away from work and be deliberate about that time, whether we are with family, friends, or heading off on an adventure.  We both love variety, and most of the time can challenge anyone to keep up. That’s fun for us.

What is the most rewarding part of being a family business?

Brent:
Uniquely, what is most rewarding is consistent both with our clients and within Perpetual Development: Seeing people that you love, care about and are committed to achieving things they may have never imagined because they were willing to think beyond boundaries. Put another way - helping people develop their potential, maximize their capacity and produce definable results. I never lose sight of the unique nature of family business as a differentiator at many levels.

Trudy:
Sharing a goal, and a passion for the same things. Watching the members of the family succeed and grow together toward that goal is exciting, and rewarding. The constant growth and change that we experience does not stop when you leave the office because it carries into all aspects of our life.  The business is a huge part of our lives together, and we don’t get to totally separate that from everything else that we do. It’s because we work together, understand and see what the other is going through that gives us the freedom to be together. How many people get to say “I really love my boss!” and it means so much.  Being on the inside gives me the opportunity to really appreciate everything that goes into a life that is rewarding professionally and personally, and knowing that we have the privilege to do this together every day is such a blessing.

Alyssa:
I think the most rewarding part of being a family business is getting to experience wins together. Because we work together and have such a deep context for what each person does, it offers a depth of understanding to each win (and challenge) that would be harder to comprehend otherwise.

Are you a member of a family business? What is the most rewarding part for you? Let us know in the comments.


The Power of Cultural Cohesiveness

Take a look at print publications, digital campaigns and social media and you’ll discover countless articles, conferences, and people talking about culture. Frankly, the importance of culture is ever-present and emphasized.

So, what happens when you have a well-defined culture and experience a lack of connectedness and cohesiveness among leaders? Is this possible? Yes. Is it desirable? No. The negative impact of such a situation is discovered in the cultural fragmentation that your company will confront.

This is where definitions matter.

  • Culture - The shared attitudes and values that characterize a company.
  • Cohesiveness - Forming of a united whole.
  • Connectedness - Joined or linked together tightly.
  • Fragmentation - Breaking or separating something into separate and distinct parts.

Taking a cue from urban sociology; cultural fragmentation within a company is about the absence or underdevelopment of a united group of leaders that are linked together tightly around the shared attitudes and values of their company.

Put simply, the interests and preferences of individuals have taken priority over the united whole. This is both deceptive and dangerous.

This is where definitions matter for the second time.

  • Deceptive - Having the power to cause someone to accept as true, that which is false.
  • Dangerous - Able or likely to inflict injury or harm

Put simply, it’s culturally dangerous for any individual(s) to represent their preference or individual interest as the cultural norm.

The Power of Perspective

Cultural fragmentation is about the minimization of shared values. The power of cultural cohesiveness is about the maximization of awareness, communication and commitment.

This is where definitions matter for the third and final time.

  • Awareness - Possessing the knowledge and understanding of the shared attitudes and values that represent your company.
  • Communication - Expressing the shared attitudes and values consistently and continuously throughout your company.
  • Commitment - Demonstrating and living out what it means to be a cohesive and connected leader within your culture.

Thoughtstarter

The ability to maximize outcomes and results is a direct reflection of the uninterrupted connection between leaders and the culture of their company.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with five being high, and one being low, how would you assess the power of your cultural continuity and cohesiveness?

With intent,
Brent

P.S. Thoughts? I'd love to hear them in the comments.