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Passion or productivity – Which can you handle?

Today’s guest post comes from David Armano, who provokes the manager in you by asking if you can handle the truth. 

No, wait. That was a movie..

David’s question is more challenging. Can you handle a passionate employee? Do they even belong at your business – even though you probably think and say that you want them? 

Anyone who has worked for someone else and felt like they were the only one who really, truly gave a rip will find themselves nodding their heads.

BUT…now that you’re in charge, could someone like you excel at your business? Or would just rather have someone who is “just” productive?

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Don’t tarnish the silver lining. Polish it.

This TED video is about education, but it could easily apply to opportunities that you give your staff to learn, to be creative and invent great new things.

Google gives their employees a percentage of their work time so that they can work on that next big thing they are pumped up about or interested in.

How many new businesses are started by employees who were not allowed to be creative and explore their ideas?

How much more successful would their employer be if they let the employee pursue that interest in-house, rather than forcing them to bail out in frustration – only to create their own company and flourish?

Who in your company is frustrated by things like this? While they are doing your company’s work, do they have a new product floating around in their head that has the potential to be the next Post-it Note? The next iPod? The next Gutenberg press?

Do you have a budding Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Lee Iacocca, Trump, Randy Pausch or Dan Kennedy lurking just below the surface of your business?

Are your people forced to keep their ideas to themselves, feeling like a seedling struggling to reach through the soil and feel the sun, air and rain? How would you know?

How are you encouraging your staff to grow and create things that not only push your business to the next rung on the ladder, but instead push your business five rungs up the ladder?

As you watch Sir Ken Robinson speak, think about your employees in the same light that Ken talks about children in our education system.

And then do something about it. Don’t let the creative ones go out of boredom and frustration.

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5 entrepreneur lessons from Guy Kawasaki

Today’s guest post is from Guy Kawasaki. You probably know of Guy from his books, from his time at Apple or Garage, or maybe from Alltop. Who knows, you might even have played hockey with him. 

Regardless, his last post as a blogger for Sun is definitely worth reading.

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If you find a Foster, hire him. Don’t just tip him.

Last week Andy Andrews told a story about an excellent Atlanta Hartsfield Airport staffer that he met years ago.

Airport management fired him because he did his job too well.

Rather than letting someone continue in that position…just hire them away. Don’t let the bureaucracy break their spirit, much less their heart.

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An in-your-face reminder to GET. STUFF. DONE.

Today’s guest post comes from internet marketer Trey Smith, who offers up a simple, in-your-face way to regularly remind yourself to GET THINGS DONE as your day progresses.

It might seem like “nothing”, but having it in your face all day is exactly the kind of thing that productivity experts recommend, and it even jibes with the “How the ultra-successful get that way” findings reported by Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich.

Give it a shot. Trey’s free template makes it easy.

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Is it better to be smart, resilient or hard working?

My vote would be a combination of all three, and there’s a good discussion of this in today’s guest post at OpenEducation. It isn’t just about kids, though I strongly suggest you consider it in that light.

It’s also something to look for in employees.

It isn’t how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you get up – and what happens next.

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Know someone who has no time to learn?

Wouldn’t surprise me if some of you regularly encounter folks who just don’t think they need to keep learning.

Ask them to get used to saying “Do you want fries with that?” because their industry will quickly leave them behind.

Daniel over at Idea Sellers hits the nail on the head with today’s guest post about continuous education.

Don’t assume you can discard this thought if you aren’t in sales, as his point is valid regardless of what line of work you’re in.

One of the things I admired most about EDS (my first real job four score and twenty years ago, or something like that) was that they never stood in the way of improving yourself. If you wanted to take a class, the door was open. They realized that the more educated their people were, the more they were likely to gain.

I strongly advise you to do the same. Offer as many educational opportunities as you can to your staff.

I know, I know. Someone out there is thinking “But what if they leave?”, yet they should be thinking “What if they don’t leave?”

Set the example yourself and place the opportunity in front of them so they’ll follow suit.

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Why your staff wants more profitable work to do

Consider the profitability of the work being done by each member of your staff. Are they making your business more profitable? Or are they doing non-critical work that a computer or service could do?

Why not automate those often lame-but-necessary tasks?

Why? Because you arenâ??t getting it all done otherwise.

Want proof? Call a vendor who performs a service or sells an item that requires installation. More often than not, youâ??ll not find someone who can deliver today, or even this week.

Despite the state of the economy. Or perhaps, because of it.

Odd example: I was told late last week that Amtrak passenger trains are packed to the gills because they don’t have any more passenger cars to put in service. Now donâ??t get me wrong, thatâ??s good thing because it means theyâ??re busy. Busy is good. Means they are doing some things right (and of course that fuel prices are high).

But backlogged and having to force businesses and consumers to go to your competition isnâ??t good, and itâ??s a fine line between busy and too busy.

What’s bad for Amtrak in this case is also bad for you. And that’s where the profitability of the work your staff does will come into play.

On one side of the fine line: things that require your expertise.

On the other: stuff that a high school kid could do in their sleep (and they need more sleep anyhow, right?).

Those are the kinds of things to target for automation.

It isnâ??t about getting rid of people. Itâ??s about giving the people you have the kind of work that generates profit, rather than simply keeping them busy in low-value jobs that take them nowhere.

Why do they want that?

Because the kind of work that generates profit is the kind that makes a job – and thus an employee – more valuable.

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Hire that punk kid with the snowboard? Are you nuts???

This weekend, I met the manager of my favorite local Italian restaurant. Somehow, I had managed to miss meeting him during my last few visits and was a bit surprised at how young this guy is.

He had just returned from Boise, where he had trained the staff and management at their newest location. He spoke of the night before as a zero mistake night in the kitchen (ie: no free meals to make up for mistakes) and how it was the third best business day of the busy summer season.

He’s in culinary school as well, and loving everything he learns from his “wizard teacher”, noting that “she’s amazing…knows everything. She doesn’t take any stuff from anyone”.

In his spare time, he’s a pro snowboarder who finishes 1st in many of the pro events on the local ski mountain, including a qualifying event for the X-Games (having trouble finding results on that one). Everyone who knows him knows his reputation on the slopes.

Last winter, he stumbled upon a skier who had slashed open his thigh, leaving a deep cut that was bleeding profusely. He rounded up 2 other skiers to put pressure on the wound, skinned back up the hill to mark the downed skier’s line with his poles so others wouldn’t hit the skier and those assisting him, boarded down to the ski patrol, returned to the scene, then after the ski patrol medical team patched up the skier, he drove him to the emergency room.

How did I meet him? I just happened to have the honor of handing his Eagle certificate to him, as one of the troops in Whitefish asked me to help officiate his Eagle Scout ceremony.

Yep. According to the calendar, Dar Johnston is just a 17 year old kid.

You should be so lucky to have “punk snowboarder” like Dar managing your restaurant. This polite, easy-going guy is going places, with or without the snowboard.

He took and passed his GED (high school equivalency exam) last year because the Whitefish School District wouldn’t let him make up work when he had be absent to travel to pro snowboard events. Shedding the time constraints of high school allowed him time to focus on culinary school and move up the management chain at Mambo Italiano in Whitefish without missing snowboard events.

There is a part of high school he does miss, of course. The girls.

Most everyone else is lamenting how kids these days are lousy employees and don’t care about anything but iPods and such. Despite that, the best Italian restaurant in the Flathead managed to find one. What is it about the best that makes them work a little harder, look a little farther and find staffers like this?

No doubt, there’s a kid in your neighborhood with similar skills and hunger. Open your eyes. Where are you looking for your next great staffer?

Might be that punk kid on the snowboard.

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Why are you STILL wasting time?

No, this is not another time management discussion. I simply want to put your day in the proper context.

After all, almost 60% of the year is behind us and I want you to be sure you’re getting closer to making it where you wanted to be by the end of the year.

So… if you are wasting an hour a day – doing *whatever* – what do you think that’s worth to you?

If you have 10 employees and each one of them is wasting an hour a day, it would probably bother you. At least I hope it would.

Lets assume for the sake of argument that you take $100,000 out of your business each year. If you waste an hour a day, that’s $51 and change you waste every day, or about 85 cents per minute. That’s assuming you make that 100 large in an eight hour day, working 50 weeks per year.

If you waste that hour a day all year long, you just tossed $12,750 out the door (.85 per minute * 60 minutes per day times 5 days per week times 50 weeks per year).

Is whatever you’re doing today worth the money you’re paying for it? Is it generating the $ you need it to?

Look at it another way, if $100K is your benchmark. $100K divided by 5 days per week and 50 weeks per year (Im assuming you take 2 weeks off) is $400.

That’s $400 per weekday, day in, day out. If you work 8 productive hours per day…

If you only manage 7 productive hours per day on average all year long, then you’re up to $457 per weekday.

If your numbers are bigger, that wasted time gets a lot more expensive.

Stay focused.