Monthly Archives: October, 2017

When Your Boss has the Attention Span of a Gnat

October 25th, 2017 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post 0 thoughts on “When Your Boss has the Attention Span of a Gnat”

Have you ever heard someone say, “My boss has the attention span of a gnat?” Have you ever said it about someone else?

Perhaps you should think twice before ever saying it again. Not only is it demeaning, the very characteristic you are complaining about can actually be a good thing. In fact, it is a very common characteristic in successful leaders.

A post at The Balance entitled The Common Traits of Successful Senior Executives says that one of them, number 13, is as follows:

“They multitask and tend to exhibit short attention spans. Unfortunately, this behavior is often perceived by others as not paying attention or caring. They often have to learn the behaviors of how to listen and show people that they are listening.”

But what if it goes beyond exhibited or perceived behavior, someone you work with or for actually has ADHD, and hasn’t learned to listen or show people she or he is listening?

For a methodical/analytical person, this can be very frustrating. Likewise, it can be a very frustrating proposition for the person with ADHD to work with the very methodical person.

The good news is that both can be very successful and happy in a working relationship by following just a few simple tips.

Start by accentuating the positive

It helps to first understand each other, then accentuate the positives.

For example, someone with ADHD may have many characteristics and behaviors that can be of benefit to the team. An article at Inc. entitled How People With ADHD Can Be Hugely Successful lists 8 “superpowers” of individuals with ADHD as follows:

  1. Unlimited energy
  2. Hyperfocus
  3. Abundant creativity
  4. Simple solutions
  5. Risk without thinking
  6. Multitasking
  7. Stubbornness
  8. Sensitivity

Now that you see the positive aspects in the other person, start thinking about how everyone can use them to the team’s advantage (mutual benefit).

Learn how to work with others who are different from you

You may have to learn how to work with one another. Do a little research. Take a class or attend a seminar. There is a lot of good information available to you if you just take a little time to find and study it.

For example, a blog post at PsychCentral entitled 5 Tips for Working with Someone with ADHD lists these five suggestions for working effectively together:

  • Keep explanations concise, to-the-point and high-level
  • If you’re feeling ignored, speak up
  • If something is time-sensitive, give a deadline
  • Don’t micromanage
  • Don’t make ADHD symptoms about character

Now think of the make-up of the team

Sometimes opposites attract. Sometimes, partnering up a methodical individual and an individual with ADHD can bring about tremendous results. Sometimes it can be a colossal failure. It may very well depend on how extreme the individuals are from one another. If either or both have the ability to be flexible and work outside of their comfort zones, even a little, things can work out. But if neither can, a third party mediator or coach may be required.

The third party would have to be able to easily maneuver from one extreme to the other without frustration or judgment in order to serve as a calming force between the two vessels. But without that balance, one may lead the team to chaotic explosion while the other may lead the team to paralyzing implosion. So give that some thought before building the team and be flexible to change once the team is built.

Set a few soft boundaries

If you work with or for someone whose characteristics and behaviors are different from your own, you have to be very flexible while simultaneously setting some soft boundaries. Here are a few suggestions for doing so:

  • Begin your day early and in isolation in order to get certain things accomplished or to allow someone else to have this same “quiet time” – make these things a priority during this time (don’t get distracted yourself)
  • If you can’t start early, set aside time each day during normal hours for the same purpose
  • Accept that the rest of your day may feel like organized chaos – be prepared for multiple impromptu meetings, calls, emails and requests if someone you work with has ADHD and be prepared for long periods of not hearing from someone if they are a very methodical/analytical thinker
  • In addition to the scheduled quiet time, and frequent impromptu meetings, schedule time together for a specific purpose and stay focused on that purpose when you are together
  • Keep track of things by writing them down or recording them in tools like Plan Canvas – then consistently ask each other which of these items have the highest priority
  • Practice listening – often the other individual just needs to “think out loud” and isn’t really looking for your feedback as they do – don’t underestimate the value of being a sounding board in this way

Finally, when you feel frustrated, take a deep breath and remember that while you are thinking the other person has the attention span of a gnat, that other person is probably thinking that if you were any more anally retentive you couldn’t sit down for fear of sucking up the furniture.

And most importantly, in neither case, is it about character. It is about learning to effectively work together and utilizing each others’ strengths in ways that are most positively impactful for all concerned.

Is Being a Leader Really all THAT Hard?

October 17th, 2017 Posted by Behavior, Blog Post, Leadership 0 thoughts on “Is Being a Leader Really all THAT Hard?”

We largely agree with an article at Inc. entitled “The Brutal Truth About Why Being a Leader is So Hard” except for 2 things. First is the title itself. The truth about leadership being hard isn’t all that brutal. Difficult at times? Yes. Brutal? No.

Additionally, being a leader isn’t hard. Being an effective leader can be – although we needlessly make it harder than it has to be (more about this later).

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Let’s get real

Second, one bold header paragraph reads as follows:

“True leadership is the ability to communicate with and effectively reach each and every person you work with, in the way that works best for each of them.”

If you have a very small organization or business, you can accomplish this. But we, as human beings, are extremely diverse. Even though we often try to categorize or stereotype individuals into labeled groups, the individuals in a common group are still very unique individuals.

That diversity is not just a good thing. It’s a GREAT thing – for business and society. When respected and nurtured, it results in an environment or culture that is far more creative and apt to foresee and avoid problems before they arise, or solve them quickly when they do. It brings about peace and opportunity.

But as an organization grows in size, that very diversity makes it impossible to “reach every person you work with in the way that works best for each of them.” There has never been a leader in the history of leaders that has been able to do that – and there have been a lot of great leaders in the history of leaders.

The key is to lead in a way that stays true to the leader you want to be, while being the most effective kind of leader that the organization/team needs and that best reaches the majority of the individuals.

(See related “What is Your Leadership Style?”)

The real brutal truth about being a leader

Some will fall out. The rest will fall in. The brutal truth is really just that – you cannot reach each and every person you work with, in the way that works best for each of them. Not in a large organization you can’t. You will feel bad about those who fall out. It might feel brutal. But you’ll feel worse about letting down a majority because you tried to be everything to everyone.

That said, again, we do largely agree with the points made in the article, including that the following is a good list of what great leadership entails:

  • It’s the ability to be flexible.
  • When everyone else is stressed, you’re calm.
  • When everyone else is out of gas, you inject more fuel.
  • When everyone else doesn’t know what to do next, you lead by example.
  • When someone has an issue, you work with and listen to the person on a personal level.

Natural versus practiced art

The items on that list can be hard if behaving that way does not come natural to you.

Some people have a natural calm about them. Case in point, the “man in the red hat”, recognized for his heroic leadership during the tragic and senseless massacre in Las Vegas. Listen to the story, hear his response to it, and you will see he just has that natural instinct to remain calm and lead while others understandably panic.

For others, it is a practiced art. Another case in point from that same tragedy is the military veteran who “stole” a truck to transport as many injured victims as he could to the hospital and out of harm’s way. His military training to remain calm under fire kicked in and allowed him to do something brilliant and life saving that most of us would have never considered.

If remaining calm under pressure does not come naturally, it has to be practiced until it becomes a habit. Until then, it is a conscious behavioral response.

We make it harder than we have to

And to that point, we needlessly make it harder than we have to. Here is list of a few simple things you can employ that will make it less difficult.

  • Define goals and measurable objectives that help keep you focused on the big picture and sweat less about the little things
  • Have a plan (strategic and tactical) for accomplishing those goals and objectives
  • Conduct a risk assessment and devise a risk mitigation plan to avoid problems or minimize their impact when they occur
  • When reporting results, challenges, status, etc. insist on everyone presenting 3 good things and 3 not-so-good things, creating a culture where no one is allowed to only complain, and no one is allowed to only paint the rosey picture – this is where practicing calmness really pays off.

What is Your Leadership Style?

October 10th, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Leadership 1 thought on “What is Your Leadership Style?”

According to the author of an article at SmallBizClub, entitled “Which Leadership Styles are Most Effective?”, there are 5 types of leadership styles, including:

  • Transactional Leadership
  • Charismatic Leadership
  • Democratic/Participative Leadership
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership
  • People-Oriented/Relations-Oriented Leadership

What is your leadership style?

This list (and accompanying descriptions) is as good as any. The question is, “What type of leader are you?”

Perhaps the greater questions are, “What type of leader do you want to be?” and “What type of leader does your team need?”

When people think of you, they will think of your having a particular leadership style, even though very effective leaders maneuver between these styles depending on the situation.

Become the team

In a recent Business is ART podcast on the subject of ghostwriting, the guest, Joshua Lisec, discussed how he needs to really become his client when ghostwriting on their behalf, much like an actor has to become the character in order to convincingly portray him or her.

The same is true of effective leadership. The empathetic leader puts him or her self in the shoes of the followers. What do they want? What do they need? What motivates them? Why do they do what they do?

The bigger the team, the tougher this can become because what works for one person may not work for the next. Everyone is motivated differently. This makes it nearly impossible to be the ideal leader for every single person on the team.

So don’t try to be.

You can’t be everyone’s favorite

Instead, think of what kind of leader the collective whole needs in general to accomplish whatever the mission may be. Depending on what that is and what you adopt as your style, some people will fall out, while the rest will fall in. Your job then becomes leading those who fall in.

Here are some suggestions for becoming both the leader you want to be and the leader your organization needs.

  1. Make sure you understand each leadership style. As you familiarize yourself with each, think of well-known leaders that generally fit each category, as well as the situations they have handled and for which they are best known.
  2. Think about what styles have best motivated you personally over the years.
  3. Solicit feedback from others – their perception of your leadership style may not be consistent with what you believe it to be.
  4. Ensure your team or organization has well defined goals and objectives – this will help identify the general style of leadership that is needed.
  5. Develop a risk mitigation strategy – this will help identify the style of leadership that is needed in special circumstances.
  6. Determine what type of leader you want to be – identify any gaps in your perceived style and that by which you want others to perceive you.
  7. Work to close those gaps – that may mean coaching, practice, training/education, and forming new habits.
  8. Be flexible enough to adapt to any style for any given situation, but be true enough that whatever style is generally needed and desired is the one on display the majority of the time – otherwise you will be perceived as a phony.

Develop a personal plan

You may need to have an individual plan that focuses on developing and nurturing your leadership style. The Plan Canvas software includes a personal plan that advises you to focus on foundational information about you, the individual, such as your personal definition of success, your blind spots, and your strengths.

It then encourages you to identify things you want to accomplish in the long, mid, and short-terms. Finally, it encourages you to identify the action steps you will take to achieve your goals and objectives.

Whether using Plan Canvas or something else, review your personal development plan with someone you consider a “coach” on a regular basis. Before long, people will start including your name in their list of the top leaders they have ever had the pleasure of serving with.

A Decision Not to Launch is Not Failure to Launch

October 4th, 2017 Posted by Blog Post, Subscriber of the Month 2 thoughts on “A Decision Not to Launch is Not Failure to Launch”

The Plan Canvas official launch was September 5, 2017. Like all new business ventures, we started with an idea.

In our case, that idea was to create tools and a community that make business success much more likely. The odds are already stacked heavily against most business ventures, and the unfortunate truth is we make the risk even greater by either not thinking things through, or over-complicating it.

Our vision is to eliminate that unnecessary, self-inflicted risk, while dramatically reducing the naturally occurring risk of doing business.

Going forward, our intention is to highlight one featured Plan Canvas Subscriber of the Month. This month, our featured subscriber is our first, ever, paid subscriber – our first genuine customer – Anastasia Button.

Sometimes the best decision is NOT to launch

Before telling her story, let’s make something clear upfront. After doing the analysis and beginning to strategize and plan the business, this Plan Canvas user made the decision NOT to further pursue the new business venture.

You may be thinking, “That is an odd case study to highlight.”

It’s a fair critique – on the surface. Most solution providers only tell stories of customers and clients that have had wild success using their products and services. We’re no different in that regard.

The difference may be that we genuinely see a decision not to launch as a wild success.

Too many people have wasted precious time, money, energy, and have even sacrificed relationships, for a business that was either not right or not right at the time. We would much rather our subscribers realize that very early in the game -before those expenditures are made – rather than after it is too late.

The best way to do that is by formally visualizing and planning the business ahead of time.

At the core – finding purpose

All that said, our very first Subscriber of the Month is no stranger to critically thinking through business development and business solutions.

Anastasia is a Millennial Business Coach and also helps companies attract, engage and retain young talent. You can find her at

As she puts it, her passion is derived from pain.

“I was a lost Millennial trying to navigate what an entrepreneur was and I was failing as a roofing contractor – a door knocker. One day I realized I was not living a life I wanted. I worked 70-hours a week and was barely making ends meet. It wasn’t until I was on a 2-story roof and realized that I just felt like jumping (figuratively)!

I felt no purpose in what I was doing and realized in that moment that is what I was missing! So, after taking the journey to purpose everything fell into place and things began to streamline – book published, internationally speaking, professorship at the University of Denver, speaking to large corporate and helping Millennial business owners go from small to big!”

That is a GREAT example and great advice for everyone

Your sense of purpose does not have to be as grandiose as saving the world, but it is really important to take time to understand what it is. Once you’ve determined it, you have an opportunity to lay out a path forward to achieving it.

Anastasia’s drive comes from her sense of purpose – to help others identify their own purpose in life, so that they can leverage it to generate a business that is meaningful and brings impact to their lives.

She also helps corporations do this by leveraging their mission to fuel and engage their workforce and leadership to better serve the customer.

Anastasia had this to say about her experience with Plan Canvas

I enjoyed Plan Canvas for a few reasons:

  • Action Items – this is great for teams. My team members used to get overwhelmed seeing a huge to-do list. Now, from the dashboard, they just see what the next 7-days include.
  • Big picture – The team appreciated having immediate goals and I, on the back end, could see the whole picture.
  • Business planning – the tool was helpful in bringing focus to certain sections of the business plan. Instead of seeing a 10+ page business plan template and feeling like you have to fill it to the brim, Plan Canvas has you focus on small sections at a time. Before you know it, your business plan is written – and with brevity.
  • Simplistic, effective and easily navigated. I enjoyed Plan Canvas from the get-go and encourage startups, pre-startups and even my own clients to use Plan Canvas as a tool for their business and team, to get their plan in action!

Thank you so much, Anastasia!

We are so glad that there are people like Anastasia who are out there really making a positive impact on people’s lives and sense of purpose. We are even more appreciative to have subscribers like her in the Plan Canvas community.

There is always a level of disappointment in having a business idea that is eventually abandoned. But the good news is that Anastasia has a healthy coaching practice that continues to grow and thrive. She is the type of person that is likely to generate new, additional ideas throughout her life and career, and is probably already cooking up the next big one.

The great news is that she didn’t waste a lot of time and resource determining one particular idea is not right or not right now.

Thank you, Anastasia, for being a part of our big idea and for being our very first featured Subscriber of the Month.

For a quick demo of Plan Canvas, please click here.

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

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