9. Let It Play Through: 10 Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness

Ninth in a series of ten maxims I’ve cultivated and use regularly to enhance business.

Immediate action isn’t always the right move. It may be better to Let It Play Through. Golf

Conventional wisdom tends to reward fast action in business. Respond quickly. Think on your feet. Anticipate needs.

I like responsiveness and proactive action as well. But quick action is not always needed nor effective and thus does not apply universally.

In some situations, the more strategic response is to Let It Play Through.

Example: Have you just put an offer on the table?
I’ve seen good people get nervous waiting for a response, or tie themselves up in knots trying to anticipate nearly every possible request or objection. You know how it can play out when one is not patient in such offer-making situations: “And if that doesn’t work for you, we could offer this…and this…or we can give you …or perhaps a discount…etc.”

Hold on and be patient. Let It Play Through. Give the other party time to internalize and embrace your offer. And time to enlighten you with their response such as about their true needs or questions. Jumping in early can mean lost opportunities and lost value for you and all concerned. Also, your nervousness or lack of patience can give the impression that you’re indecisive and may not stand behind what you’re offering. Therefore, be patient, wait and listen – and learn what really matters most to them.

Example: Is a potential business partner slow to move forward with your joint plans?
Try Letting It Play Through. The foot-dragging could be a cue to a whole range of things, such as:

  • Maybe the other party is less eager for the partnership or plan than you thought – in which case forcing a decision or action now can cause resentment and even a broken relationship, while alternatively Letting It Play Through can provide space and time either for coming to agreement on something you both can fully commit to, or parting amicably with an intact relationship.
  • Maybe some distraction is happening in your partner’s business or personal life – in which case Letting It Play Through shows respect for your partner, which can pay dividends in your eventual business relationship.
  • Maybe your partner needs time to disentangle from commitments that could interfere with the plan or partnership – in which case, again, the relationship and plan results can benefit from Letting It Play Through.

Whatever the reason, if you allow some space and time and Leave the Door Open, the situation tends to become clear, as does the right next step.

For golfers, letting someone play through means letting another party move ahead of you on the course, so they can get through more quickly. Let’s be clear: when I say Let It Play Through, it’s not about letting the competition get ahead of you. It’s about gathering the insights you need and making the strategic decision, at the right time… and having the Calm Confidence to and skills to catalyze desired events to unfold.

Let It Play Through isn’t always the right tactic. But it’s a tool and a mindset option that can boost impact and effectiveness, when used at the right time.

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Check out our previously-posted Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness, all of which I find myself repeating often. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped. Watch this space for number 10 – coming soon!

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Strategic Thinking According to Kasparov

I enjoy chess, but seldom give myself the time and space to sit down for a game. After Kasparovreading Harvard Business Review’s interview with world chess champion Garry Kasparov, I’m re-thinking that.

Kasparov uses his deep experience with chess to teach, write, and speak about strategic thinking and decision-making*. For business leaders, his insights are astute.

Here are a few quotes from the interview that resonated with me, as I’ve found them to be true both in my own business and as I’ve worked with owners and leaders across diverse industries:

On building upon – and using to advantage – your own particular skills, abilities, knowledge, tendencies, and personal characteristics:

“You have to understand who you are, know what you’re capable of and what you’re not, and then try to construct a game – or a deal or a campaign – in which your superior qualities will be factors and your disadvantages will not be displayed.”

On becoming better by facing stiff competition:

“To discover what you’re capable of, you need strong – or even better – opponents. It’s like an iron in the fire: When pressed at a very high temperature, it either breaks or turns into steel.”

On the crucial importance of staying nimble, and always open to learning:

“Many people think that if something worked yesterday and is still working today, it will work tomorrow. That’s wrong, because people on the losing side will come up with a new strategy. I stayed on top for 20 years because I knew that even if you win, there are things to learn.”

The brief HBR interview gives just a few nuggets of Kasparov’s thoughts on these topics – it left me wanting more. Maybe it’s time to set up that chess board.

*Not to mention the role he’s come to play as a pro-Russian-democracy leader…but that’s a different topic.

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8. Excellence End to End: 10 Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness

Eighth in a series of ten maxims I’ve cultivated and use regularly to enhance business.

Like this Mobius strip, Excellence End to End is a Mobius stripnever-ending cycle.

Awhile ago I worked with a company that offered some of the highest quality services in their industry – arguably the best in their geographic area. They knew their field inside and out, they had a commitment to excellence second to none, and they were adamant about doing it not only right, but better than anyone else. Great people.

And they were slowly but surely losing customers and market share.

Here’s one thing we figured out: their focus on excellence was all about the service delivery itself – but they needed to pay more attention to Excellence End to End.

Excellence End to End means putting energy and effort into more than just providing a great product or service. It means Excellence from before the point of first contact with a client or customer, all the way through to after you’re done with the current project, however small or large.

How do you show Excellence at the front End – before your first point of contact?

  • You build a track record of Excellence End to End with others, so the word on the street is good.
  • You have a positive, attractive visual image – which may include your logo, your facility, your web site, and more (don’t forget the power of factors like a clean and inviting office space, and the impression left by the first voice a prospect hears, or the first face a customer sees).
  • You’re known and thought well of by people your target customer knows and/or respects.
  • You’re known to Take the Principled Approach.

And in the middle?

In your own business, you know what it means to show Excellence during the course of a project or engagement – or you wouldn’t be in that business. Suffice it to say that Excellence on the Ends only holds up if the “middle” – the core of what you offer/provide/sell – meets the level of Excellence that you promise to the market you serve.  A VUCA Prime Mindset keeps you in the game.

How do you keep showing Excellence at the other End – after completing a client project?

  • You show respect and appreciation for the business and the relationship that’s been established.
  • You maintain enough contact so your name comes to mind first the next time (and not so much that you’re annoying!).
  • You Leave the Door Open.
  • You seek new ways to practice Excellence End to End.

Excellence End to End is a mindset, a practice, and a worthy goal. And I’ve seen it boost impact and effectiveness, for my own company and others we’ve worked with.

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Check out our previously-posted Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness, all of which I find myself repeating often. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped. Watch this space for numbers 9-10 – coming soon!

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7. Leave the Door Open: 10 Maxims to Boost Business Impact and Effectiveness

Number 7 of ten maxims I’ve cultivated and use regularly to enhance business.

Good things can arise – and come back around – if you just Leave the Door Open…Open door
…mentally and emotionally, to possibilities
…in relationships
…so other options and opportunities can see the light of day.

You might think of Leave the Door Open as the more positive version of “don’t burn your bridges.” My use of Leave the Door Open goes much deeper than just not burning bridges.

Example 1: When you get what seems like bad news (someone else got the contract, was hired, won the popularity vote, was picked first, etc.), make your response one that is memorable for its Open Door. For instance, I’ve often said:  “If your [the other party’s] needs or circumstances change or new opportunities arise in the months or years ahead, feel free to be back in touch.”

I’ve had more than one client engagement or partner agreement materialize because their initial choice/attempt with someone else didn’t work out, or a new opportunity came up and we were at the top of their minds – because we Left the Door Open.

Example 2: When you’ve met someone who impressed you, whether or not you have an immediate business opportunity together, it’s smart to Leave the Door Open. For instance, a speaker I recently exchanged business cards with included these words in her follow-up note to me: “Please let me know if there is something that I can do for you at any time.”

Just that simple line – a step beyond the exchange of business cards or a LinkedIn invite – lets me know that the Door is Open. I’m more likely to re-connect with her because of it.

Example 3: In the office, as a leader or manager. Literally, Leave the Door Open (or at least figuratively, if you don’t have a real door!). You can learn so much.

There are plenty of times when I need to close my office door. But by intentionally Leaving the Door Open at other times, TPG team members know I’m available to them, that I’m in this together with them, that I’m swimming in the same ocean they are. Plus, I get a daily sense of the pulse, the pace, the energy, the atmosphere – which helps me be more effective when I’m choosing how/what/when I communicate and interact with the team members.

With off-site team members, Leaving the Door Open happens in other ways: a brief check-in call, a text or email saying thanks for work well done, an inquiry about their life beyond TPG Companies. All of it serves to build trust and unity, and pays dividends in team effectiveness and spirit.

TPG team members like to say, “Everything Begins with Hello.” That’s true, but what happens after Hello is key as well. I’ve built better relationships and greater success when I let the other party know I’m Leaving the Door Open for future possibilities together.

Leaving the Door Open doesn’t mean we’ll be waiting by the phone – it shows respect for the people and the relationship and points toward a future that evolves and creates diverse possibilities. Really, it’s a way of using a Principled Approach, with a VUCA Prime Mindset.

Check out our previously-posted Maxims to Boost Business Impact and Effectiveness, all of which I find myself repeating often. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped. Watch this space for numbers 8-10 – coming soon!

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6. Calm Confidence: 10 Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness

Number 6 in a series of ten maxims I find myself repeating. 

Calm Confidence is appealing. It’s appealing to prospects, to clients and customers, and to colleagues. And it feels good.

Tie straighteningYou can’t just put Calm Confidence on like a crisp new pinstriped shirt, but there are tweaks you can make to your outward appearance and behavior that can help project Calm Confidence, and can even make you feel more calm and confident on the inside.

All things being equal, for instance, I tend to project a greater sense of Calm Confidence when I’m wearing professionally-appropriate clothes, I’m not fidgeting, I’m more engaged, I’m communicating with conviction, I’m making eye contact, etc.

More than just projecting a sense of Calm Confidence, though, my bigger goal is to actually be Calm and Confident. And that comes from more than just changing my appearance or vocal tone.

The thing is, calmness tends to come with confidence – and confidence is improved when you’re feeling calm. They’re interdependent.

sunsetHere are a few sample actions that help many people enhance these qualities in themselves – and thrive from their Calm Confidence (the good news is this isn’t an all-or-nothing checklist – one need only apply a handful of these or other methods to significantly enhance Calm Confidence and reap its benefits):

  • Practice slow deep breathing
  • Be prepared without over-preparing
  • Be open to the people and energy around you
  • Visualize success and what it feels like for each concerned
  • Practice
  • Sort the “head talk” in your mind and keep what is affirming, optimistic, positive, and encouraging
  • Arrive early
  • Avoid too much sugar
  • Get adequate sleep and rest
  • Seek to be of service to others
  • Practice sharing laughter, love and joy/making others happy
  • Live and practice your faith
  • Clear the clutter (in your home, relationships, mind, workspace, beliefs, attitudes, behaviors)
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Nature walks—watching the sun rise particularly helps me “center”
  • Gardening
  • and more….

The leaders I’ve experienced who project the deepest kind of Calm Confidence are those who  are authentic and trustworthy. They know and believe in who they are and what they represent. Most importantly, they care about those around them and those they affect. They behave in ways that align with their values and belief systems. Their Calm Confidence comes, in part, from having – from living – a Principled Approach, and a VUCA Prime Mindset.

When I project true Calm Confidence, I find that others are more responsive to me, and I learn more from them as well.

Calm Confidence increases impact and effectiveness. It’s good for business, good for relationships, good for health, and good for helping others Transform, Perform, and Grow.

So, what are the top three things you do or plan to do to grow your “Calm Confidence”?

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Check out our previously-posted Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped.

#1 Take the Principled Approach
#2 A VUCA Prime Mindset
#3 Trust but Verify
#4 Don’t Expect a Tree to Be a Rock
#5 Try the Coat on for Size 

Watch this space for numbers 7-10 – coming soon!
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5. Try the Coat On For Size: 10 Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness

Here’s number 5 in a series of ten maxims I find myself repeating often. 

You don’t really know if that new Burberry is the right coat for you until you’ve tried it on Coatfor size.  You want to know how it looks on you, how it moves with you, if it’s roomy enough or too tight.

If you don’t love it, and if it doesn’t fit perfectly, it’s likely to be underused or find its way to the back of the closet and be forgotten. (I’ve got a few in my own closet.)

In the same way, it’s worth trying on each new strategy for size and to test the fit before you fully launch.

Try the Coat on For Size.

Start by living with it for a bit in your head. Try seeing the world (or your team, or your project, or your company) with the New Coat/Strategy incorporated into it.

Does it feel right? Does it fit with what else you’re doing? Does it take you in a positive (and profitable) direction?

Maybe it’s a new name or brand for a project or product – or even for your company. Drop the name into a conversation or two, internally and externally. How does it feel coming out of your mouth? Do others respond positively, or do they just seem perplexed or disinterested?

Maybe it’s a new approach to building customer relationships. Try it with one customer. What’s the reaction? Does the New Coat/Strategy bring a refreshing and updated look to the relationship, or is the fit “off,” resulting in stress and strain?

Trying the Coat on For Size builds confidence and catches less effective decisions and directions before they’re out of control.

What New Coat/Strategy have you been eyeing? How will you know if it’s a fit?

____________________

Check out our previously-posted Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped.

#1 Take the Principled Approach
#2 A VUCA Prime Mindset
#3 Trust but Verify
#4 Don’t Expect a Tree to Be a Rock 

Watch this space for numbers 6-10 – coming soon!

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button at right to deliver new posts to you as soon as they’re published.

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4. Don’t Expect a Tree to Be a Rock: 10 Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness

Here’s number 4 in a series of ten maxims I find myself repeating often. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped.

Sometimes a tree is a tree, and a rock is a rock. Don’t Expect a Tree to Be a Rock.Rock

Trying to get a person (an employee, a colleague, even a client) to be something they are not – and cannot be – wastes time, energy, and money.

Yes, explore the options. Yes, light the fires under them. But know where the boundaries are and learn to distinguish them.  With employees, for instance, many leaders we’ve worked with find the EOS (Entrepreneurs Operating System) measure of Get It/Want It/Capacity to Do It is a useful tool to identify the rocks and the trees.

Don’t Expect a Tree to Be a Rock.

We need both trees and rocks. Rocks provide stability – a base to build on, as well as strong building material. Trees provide oxygen as well as color, variety, and habitat for other living things.

You get the analogies for business, right? We need both – in the right places. But Don’t Expect a Tree to Be a Rock.

___________________

Check out our previously-posted Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness:

#1 Take the Principled Approach
#2 A VUCA Prime Mindset
#3 Trust but Verify 

Watch this space for numbers 5-10 – coming soon!

Want to see more of what we think and talk about at TPG Companies? Click the “Follow” button at right to deliver new posts to you as soon as they’re published.

 

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3. Trust but Verify: 10 Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness

Here’s the third of ten maxims I find myself repeating often. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped.

When Ronald Reagan [half-] joked with Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 by saying the U.S. Trust a Fewwould “Trust but Verify” in our dealings with the Russians, the quip quickly became a signature Reagan phrase.  It resonated with me as an entrepreneur, and I started to apply Trust but Verify to business situations, as have others in business across the country and the world.

It fits. It’s part of a Principled Approach.

When I Trust but Verify, for example, I:

  • Get enthused about a resume yet also fact-check it.
  • Shake hands, build a warm relationship, yet also put the details in writing via signed agreements
  • Develop the contract to be mutually beneficial, while asking questions (non-defensively and non-confrontationally) to ensure we clearly understand every word and are protecting our interests.
  • Approach strategic alliances and partnerships enthusiastically yet also research the other party’s history and background.

It’s not foolproof. Memories can fade – there can be misunderstandings or unexpected new situations – we can find we’re misaligned because what the words meant didn’t turn out to be the same in the new circumstances or situation. And sometimes people didn’t have the good intentions our experience and research indicated they did.

Still, I’ve found that Trust but Verify significantly reduces potential problems, and significantly increases the chance that the parties will work well with together over the long run. It can be tempting to close in on ourselves and operate from a place of mistrust and protectiveness, but we’ve found that approach tends to lead to fewer opportunities, less potential, less enlightened business decisions – meaning less happiness and generally less sustainable results.

So, in most cases, we bias towards Trust but Verify.

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Check out our previously-posted Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness:

#1 Take the Principled Approach
#2 A VUCA Prime Mindset 

Watch this space for numbers 4-10 – coming soon!

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2. A VUCA Prime Mindset: 10 Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness

The second of ten maxims I find myself repeating often. I hope they resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped.grand central

I absolutely believe we’re living in a VUCA world – and keeping a VUCA Prime Mindset is what will propel success.

I’m guessing you’ve heard of VUCA: the term coined by the U.S. military in the 1990s, to represent Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity. It’s the world we live in – maybe it always has been, but modern realities from the pace of technology to climate change have made it ever truer today. It’s the context in which we make decisions and strategize for results.

I’m quite taken, though, with the notion of what Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future calls VUCA Prime:  Vision, Understanding, Clarity, and Adaptability.

It’s that VUCA Prime Mindset that we need in leaders at every level of business. Vision to see a future and a way to get there. Understanding of what’s going on in the world around you. Clarity about the purpose and an ability to make sense of the complexity. Adaptability (or some use the word Agility) in the face of volatile and ambiguous realities, to manage the twists and turns that come your way.

The words are easy to say. The concepts can be harder to absorb. But when I see leaders who have the VUCA Prime Mindset, I see leaders who don’t just stay in the game, but write the rules of the game.

__________________

Check out the first Maxim for Impact and Effectiveness: #1 Take the Principled Approach

Watch this space for numbers 3-10 – coming soon!

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1. Take the Principled Approach: 10 Maxims for Impact and Effectiveness

I’ve been told I sometimes repeat myself. I admit it. There are certain lines – maxims – that are useful and true in so many business situations, that I find myself repeating Decisionsthem. So I’ve gathered ten of my favorites, hoping they may resonate with you as they do with scores of business owners and leaders we have coached, advised, or otherwise helped.

It makes sense to start with the foundation for everything else. That is: Take the Principled Approach.

Easy to say.

Plenty of us publish corporate values that include something about ethics, or integrity, or responsibility, or principles. Search for “company values integrity” and you get 162 MILLION hits on Google. Lots of others use different words to say something similar. For example, Google itself lists one of its core values as, “You can make money without doing evil.”

I’m less interested here in how we talk about what we do; I’m interested in how we actually behave, in practice.

Each of us is faced with a thousand chances every day, to decide whether or not we’re going to Take the Principled Approach. Taking the Principled Approach means trying to consciously behave, in all settings, in a way that reflects my moral principles and the values professed by my company.

  • How will I talk to this employee about their project?
  • How will I describe my product to this prospective customer?
  • How will I answer a question from my client?
  • How will I decide to bill (or not bill) this past half hour?
  • How will I negotiate these Terms and Conditions?
  • What decision will I make when faced with a new opportunity?

The Principled Approach makes good sense for business.

Why?

First, because stronger (and longer lasting) customer and employee relationships result when people can trust my word – and Taking the Principled approach means people can trust my word.

Also, win-win business deals are the strongest. With the Principled Approach, I’m not giving away the farm – because that wouldn’t keep me around very long, and it doesn’t represent the value of my product or service in an honest way. Neither am I squeezing the other party for every dime. I’m deciding and acting in ways that bring BOTH the other party and my company to success and profitability. We both win – and that gives us a better chance of building an even more profitable future together.

What business impact do you see when you Take the Principled Approach?

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I’m eager to share more with you. Watch this space for numbers 2-10 of 10 Maxims to Boost Business Impact and Effectiveness – coming soon!

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