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12 Holiday Morsels to Strengthen Your Business

Yes, the holidays are here and already the list of things to do continues to grow – completing the annual budget, planning parties, visiting with friends, figuring out what to get who for when … and so it goes.

Yet, my spirit remains strong, so I’ve prepared a menu of 12 holiday treats that I hope will slide down like Amaretto eggnog in front of a winter fire.

I’ve even scoured some of my earlier columns to find the most delectable morsels.

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” — Yogi Berra

So, here’s a smorgasbord of lessons learned – a few appetizers, a choice of entrees, a little dessert – from executives of both extraordinary capability and numbing incompetence  — that should grace your executive table for 2015.

1.     It’s never about you.

It’s always about them. Customers, employees, suppliers … family, friends, colleagues.

Be clear about it and thrive.

Get it backwards?


2.     If you don’t think you’ll ever have a management succession problem, you already have one.

Keep reading. There are 12 days. Remember?


Lose $1Million in 1 Day – and Still Become a Champion

Focus - 5 Images Portfolio

Focus. Focus. Focus.

I never thought that Rory McIlroy, a PGA golfer, would be the subject any article I ever wrote, least of all 2 of them.

What a difference a few years makes!

When I wrote about the Magic of True Grit, Rory appeared in an ignominious way.

What do you do when you totally screw up?

In 2011, Rory entered the final day of the Masters Tournament with a 4 stroke lead … and watched it quickly evaporate as his game imploded.

He shot 80 on that final day, the worst score of anyone playing on Sunday. He finished 10 strokes behind the winner, a Masters rookie, Charl Schwartzel.

(The Masters tournament doesn’t like to talk about such crass subjects as money … but the one day cost of that catastrophe to Rory WAS OVER  $1.3 MILLION!)

He was heartbroken over his performance that day, but held his head high with these words: Continue reading to see the Big Change …


You can certainly sing this! The 12 Pains of Christmas

The holidays are here and we’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to get it all done.

So, instead of asking you to work at something – anything – I’ve decided to give you a gift of holiday music.

Elmo did it, so did Ren & Stimpy, Winnie the Pooh, Shrek, the Muppets … so with animated competition like this, what can go wrong with my first effort at song-writing?

There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime.  Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them. — P.J. O’Rourke

Yeah, I know, don’t quit your day job.

So, feel free to sing along to the tune of the 12 Days of Christmas. Key of D Sharp, please.

All together now:

The first thing in business that’s such a pain to me… is the never-ending stinking eee-mail.

The second thing in business that’s such a pain to me … stuff a-cumm-u-lating … and the never-ending stinking eee-mail.

The third thing in business that’s such a pain to me … meetings, meetings, meetings … stuff a-cumm-u-lating … and the never-ending stinking eee-mail.

The fourth thing in business that’s such a pain to meKeep going … there’s more pain coming …


Top 5 Reasons You Will Love the Exkalibur.com Transformation

The Transformed Leadership Web Site at Exkalibur.com

This is one happy visitor!

Practical Strategies to Help Leaders Get Real Results

In truth, I realize you really don’t care that we transformed our web site.

You shouldn’t.

You should only care if you can find what you want when you want it.

I only care about what will really help YOU!

Yeah, I know that’s easy to say and you probably hear it from almost everyone.

But, think about it. I don’t need to visit my own website to find articles I’ve already written … and probably no one knows my website more intimately than I do. And, with the administrative dashboard, I can find virtually anything I want, anytime.

So, this really is only about you and I hope we’ve been successful at creating a rich and appealing experience … to help you find what you’re looking for … and to discover new and valuable materials you didn’t know we had.

We worked hard so that Exkalibur can become an even more valuable and trusted resource for you … just as you work hard to become a more effective leader and build a successful business.

Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. ~ Albert Einstein

Practical Strategies to Help Leaders Get Real Results

You might have noticed that we also changed our tagline. Check out the Top 5 Changes …


Leadership | One Simple Way to Trash Your Brand Anthem

Any chance that you’re tone deaf?

A brand anthem expresses to your customers the core values related your brand and products, much like a vision statement expresses the core values of your company.

Are you trashing your Brand Anthem?

I was sitting in an exceptionally beautiful church on Easter Sunday morning.

There were garlands of fresh daffodils and orchids draping the sanctuary.

Easter lilies were everywhere, consuming the floor of the chancel and the empty spaces on the altar rails. Small children were dressed in their Easter finery, sitting awkwardly in their new suits and dresses anxiously awaiting the Easter Egg hunt following the service.

Time for the Processional Hymn

Christians everywhere know that the hymn, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” also starts the Easter service and marks the procession of ministers and laity down the aisle to the altar.

It is unarguably the best known Easter hymn, a holiday staple like O’ Little Town of Bethlehem, Joy to the World and other holiday songs at Christmas.

I’ve pretty much know that Easter hymn by heart … sang it every year as a child … and can’t imagine an Easter service without it. (more…)


Leadership | Why I changed the Exkalibur Facebook page to “Building a Business”

 The Exkalibur Facebook page is now

 “Building a Business”

For years, I have used Facebook simply to replicate the articles I’ve published on Sword Tips, the Exkalibur blog.

I rarely provided anything else on the Facebook platform to help you and other business leaders solve their everyday problems … even though that’s what I do every day everywhere else.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

That’s not really what I intended, but it was early in the Facebook lifecycle and I wasn’t sure what I should be doing differently on the Exkalibur Facebook page.

Maybe you’ve faced the same questions as you’ve surfed the Internet waters, uncertain about what you may find where and what you can do to more efficiently to find just that exact piece of information to help you with a particular issue?

Don’t you think we’re both trying to figure out how to manage the information tsunami flowing fromblogs, RSS feeds, Facebook pages, twitter feeds and a host of other sources? (more…)


Flush the recession Kool-Aid! Create your own demand!

“Teach a parrot the terms ‘supply and demand’ and you’ve got an economist.”

~ Thomas Carlyle

A lady walked into a neighborhood market one day and spoke loudly over the counter to the head butcher.

“Your prices these days are atrocious, Sal. Joe’s Deli across the street is selling your $10 chuck roast for only $5!”

“I know, Mrs. Haggle. I saw the sign. The thing is . . . Joe doesn’t have any chuck roast.”

The law of supply and demand still rules

So, the law of supply and demand rears its head again, some days a beautiful vision, other days an ugly hag. We’re surrounded by her mystique everywhere we go. Traffic is tied up because there are more cars than highway space. Starbuck’s is backed up because people want coffee faster than it can be made. There are no paper clips in the supply room but there’s plenty of fruitcake left in the kitchen.

Even for tickets to a free concert?

Supply and demand drove markets long before economists appeared … and its jarring prevalence is unavoidable. One of my favorite examples is (more…)

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Another ridiculously easy trick to earning respect | Accountability | The 24 Hour Rule

This 7-part weekly Leadership series is about R.E.S.P.E.C.T. – How to get it by earning it!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue to describe 7 remarkably simple components of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. that you can apply to your everyday conduct.

The ability to earn R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is a critical Leadership requirement … and we have absolute control over the actions we take to earn it. It’s also the centerpiece of “accountability “, a concept that vexes the most astute business leaders. Since it’s impossible to be an effective leader without gaining respect, let’s devote some time and energy to learn how to give it to get it. Are you with me?


Last week, we kicked off our 7 part series, R.E.S.P.E.C.T – How To Get It by Earning It, and talked about one way to earn instant respect starting with the “R” in Respect … be Right on Time, Every Time.

As we build our businesses, we’re all looking for tips to improve our productivity, leadership and accountability. Here is a tip that will increase not only your productivity, but the response you get to all of the things you do.

The 24 Hour Rule … Rules!

I call it The 24 Hour Rule … and in our R.E.S.P.E.C.T series, it’s the “E” … Every Call Returned in 24 Hours. It’s about getting back to people within 24 hours no matter what … some might call it “one business day”.

It’s absolutely doable for phone calls and is really longer than it should take as you should make every effort to return most calls within the same business day. Of course, if they call at 5:15 p.m., it’s okay to invoke the 24 hour rule but certainly no longer than that … or maybe after 6:00 p.m.

The 24 Hour Rule should apply to all customer contact.

Emails might be a different story because the flood is increasing and we all need to establish our own guidelines … but for customers and clients, there’s still no excuse not to rigorously apply The 24 Hour Rule. The essence of the rule is …  (more…)

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The remarkably easy trick to earning instant respect

This 7-part weekly Leadership series is about R.E.S.P.E.C.T.How to get it by earning it!

Over the next 7 Thursdays, I’ll describe 7 remarkably simple components of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. that you can apply to your everyday conduct. The ability to earn R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is a critical Leadership quality … and we have absolute control over the actions we take to earn it. Since it’s impossible to be an effective leader without it, let’s devote some time and energy to learn how to give it. Are you with me?


It was one of those days when I was already behind plan. I got to the meeting destination on time but I didn’t get a chance to find the missing file I needed for a later meeting or grab the dog food I swore to my wife I would drop off at the vet.

I was already a little irritated by all that, particularly by forgetting the coffee I had carefully prepared for the drive … and now getting even more irritable …

… because the other party still wasn’t there after 20 minutes!

When he came bungling in, it was with that bit of insouciance that makes you want to pour cabbage soup down his jumpsuit … and then with the … “sorry, man, my other meeting ran late and I tried to call you but my cell battery was almost dead and I had to use the juice to call a client and I was rushing to get here” …. yeah, blah, yeah.

What are you and I thinking when this happens to us … other than channeling Carnac the Magnificent and hoping that an evil genie will plant splinters in his bathing suit?

We know that there are lots of excuses reasons why people are late … and at one time or another, we’ve all probably used them. But, do you know the universal reason why most people are late in the first place?

RESPECT E-book Promo

You never make it out of the driveway when you think you will

Answer? We think we’re actually going to get out the door at the time we’ve chosen to leave … but, here’s the problem. By the time you pack up, find the coat your wife took off the back of the chair and actually hung up, turn out the lights, let the dogs out one more time, locate that file you almost forgot, the vet food … you see where I’m going?

This is the first post in a weekly Leadership series, entitled R.E.S.P.E.C.T. How to earn it by showing it. “R” signifies “Right on time. Every time.

Even though we’re smart enough to know when to leave … and might even allow a few extra minutes for unpredictable travel events … that’s not when we really leave.

We think departure time is when our car is backing out of the driveway … but it’s never backing out when we figured.

If you’re like my darling wife, you may also be checking to make sure the gas is off? … for the 2nd time … did I lock the back door? … did I leave my scarf in the trunk? … etc.

Doesn’t leaving early waste time?

There’s a mind-numbingly simple cure for the curse of tardiness …   (more…)


The Shocking Truth about having fun!

Wanna have some fun? How about logistics? Now that’s some fun, ain’t it?

Social media has stimulated countless phenomena … but connecting with our communities is probably one of its most valuable outcomes … which is why this new UPS commercial really caught my eye. Remember the lesson that if the railroads realized they were in the transportation business, they might not have collapsed?

UPS believes they’re really in the “life” business … that logistics is making life better … parts on time, always in sync, compete effectively, track everything, no lost gifts … logistics just “makes the world work better”.

So, isn’t that the shocking truth about having fun … that it’s actually possible to build it into our work if we work at it? If UPS can put fun and some pizzaz into logistics, shouldn’t we be able to add some fun and excitement to our products and services?

Surely they’re more exciting than shipping and delivery? Am I right? Am I? Right?

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