04 October 2017

The Conversation Demands Dialogue To Make Change Stick

The national conversation has been going in many directions and that’s great. I truly believe that conversation should go in all directions. There should be conversation about every topic that affects everyone not just for this group or that group or that group over there but for everyone as a whole.

The conversation, the conversation must be a two-way dialogue.

A dialogue, information going out information coming in. It’s not a monologue. Many people want the only word to come from their monologue. Many people are demanding changes through the monologue. Unfortunately, that is not the way change works.

For those that do not know what it is, monologue is “a long and typically tedious speech by one person during a conversation.” As an example, monologue is what those late-night talk show hosts do for the first five minutes of the show, they tell jokes, try to make a point or two and some even try to they try to influence the viewers. That’s a monologue.

What else is a monologue? In school, the teacher stands at the front of the classroom teaching, telling you things, showing you new things. That's a monologue, however, that's not how change happens. In the classroom, monologue is how you learn and that while is considered change it is not the social change groups are demanding. Real Social Change happens through dialogue. Creating two-way conversations and working things out together is how change is made.

Dialogue is how you create change. Dialogue is how you make change that is sustainable. That is how you make change that is going to last for a long, long time. However, when every group decides to have an attitude of "it's my point and no other point matters" that is why we have problems. That's why we're in the situation we are in. This applies to any situation. That is why we're there or here.

Whether it is because of natural disasters, man-made disasters, other people's problems, or whatever the reason we are in that situation because of conversation not being a dialogue. All it takes for two people, two sides to want to talk, work things out and make things happen.

Remember, change is good just as change is bad because it won't last. It will not last if it is coming from one side. It is a one-sided conversation. It has got to be agreed upon by both sides or all sides for change to work. Everyone has to agree and if no one wants to work to be part of everyone then you've got nothing. When you have nothing then nothing is ever going to change.

Of course, you can sit there and spew all the monologue you want but if there is no dialogue nothing is going to happen. Count on it!

So stand up, speak up, join the conversation and make real change happen.

Thank you,
David Guerra

I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @daveguerra • visit my website: www.daveguerra.com

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22 September 2017

Leadership, Communication, and Feedback

Today, I was asked the following question, "What are the three most important things for any organization to succeed?"

For most people the obvious answers are money, product and customers. Great answers but not the answers I gave.

I answered, "Leadership, Communication, and Feedback."

Leadership.

Great leadership at the begets Greater leadership at the mid-level and when that happens from the top down, the front-lines can only be a place where magic happens. I say this because if an organization has Great Leaders at the top, Greater Leaders at the mid-level then it should comes as no surprise that those on the front-line want to do better than those above them. That is because the corporate culture does not demand it, it inspires it.

Communication.

Communication is based on dialogue. Dialogue among all members of the organization. Monologue has a place in every organization yet in limited quantities. Communication is necessary when it comes to organizational success. The success occurs when the entire organization (top down) encourages and expects open communication. Failing to deliver that expectation then the organization gets what it deserves. What it gets is NOT a great organization. Avoiding this fate is easy, so long as everyone buys into wanting to and communicating to every stakeholder in and out of the organization. Yes, it is that simple.

Feedback.

Everyone in the organization must demand, expect, solicit, and most of all, ACCEPT feedback. A corporate culture that actually expects complete and honest feedback is one that values the input of everyone not just from those at the top. Unfortunately, for far too long the ONLY feedback available came in the form of the Annual Performance Review, a top down cluster of unwarranted, useless feel good words and a very INACCURATE picture of what was truly going on. The 360° degree Feedback has to come from ALL directions; top-down, bottom-up, sideways, laterally, inside-out, and outside-in. Seriously, for all this to work FEEDBACK must come from all directions and go in all directions.

Sure you can have all the financing you need, just the right product and all the customers you could ever want but without Leadership, Communication, and Feedback what do you have? You got nothing. If you think I am wrong then prove me wrong.


Thank you,
David Guerra

I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @daveguerra • visit my website: www.daveguerra.com

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07 September 2017

DACA is a Wake-up Call for LEADERS!

Change. Change is coming. Change is here and Leaders what are you doing about it?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has recently been rescinded by the administration of President Trump. However, the implementation of the end of the program was delayed six months to give the U.S. Congress time to come up with a solution for those previously eligible for DACA.

There are three groups of DACA individuals that are directly affected: children (under 18), those over 18 but still in school (i.e., college), and those over 18 and in the work place.
There is not much leaders can do for those under 18, as they are still under the responsibility of their parents. However, I want to focus on those individuals that are part of the workforce. Those that are gainfully employed (with or without a college degree or two) and are paying taxes are the ones I want to talk about.

The question I hear is how is their citizenship status my problem?

As a leader, it becomes your problem because what are you doing to address the potential loss of the individual(s) from your organization?
  1. Are you encouraging them to do what it takes to become US Citizens?
  2. Are you giving them time off to address their specific needs to citizenship?
  3. Are you prepared to support any issues that may arise during this period of uncertainty?
  4. Should the worst case scenario occur, what is your plan to continue to support/assist the employee?
  5. After the worst case scenario, are you prepared to fill the vacant position(s)?
Of course, the greater conversation becomes one of us versus them. Us being the citizens and them the "illegals" the ones that are NOT doing anything to help their case (i.e., apply for citizenship). This conversation can be polarizing in any organization. However, if the conversation becomes ugly, then there are bigger problems in your organization and addressing those problems must take priority.

Why does this conversation have to take priority?

It takes priority because as history tells us time and time again, no one can fight and win a two front war without giving attention to one front at a time. In this case, addressing the internal issues of the organization helps with the buy-in of all members of that organization. A leader that is not afraid to address the difficult conversations is a leader that will have little to no resistance once he or she steps up to face the problem head on. Failing to address the problem serves to show only one thing: the leader is not a leader.

There is nothing more that differentiates a Real Leader than from your average run of the mill figurehead than when it comes time to deal with real issues. A Real Leader will step up and deal directly with the issues. A figurehead, will, at best, pass the buck and refuse to step up. Refusing to step up and deal with the issues an organization cannot grow, cannot get better.

Why The Wake-Up Call?

I am not going to get into the politics of the DACA issue any more than I already have. However, this issue is NOT magically going to go away. This issue will be around for a while and addressing what is addressable now is better than waiting for it to grow, fester, and become out of control. Wasting time and letting any situation get out of control, goes without saying but it is bad for business. A leader's job is not to destroy business but to make business.

Of course, organizations all over the world face issues greater and lesser than the one that is currently facing the US. The need for everyone to work together and work with a REAL LEADER at the helm is the ONLY way for a leader and those that follow him to overcome the fallout from this issue and any future issues. One thing that is certain: there will be more future issues.

Thank you for your time,
David G. Guerra, M.B.A.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @daveguerra • visit my website: www.daveguerra.com

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17 August 2017

Amazon's Alexa and The New WALKING LEADER Skill

By now, you have seen the Amazon Alexa commercials.

If you haven't then let me share the following: Alexa "is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon, made popular by the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot devices developed by Amazon Lab126. It is capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic, and other real time information, such as news. Alexa can also control several smart devices using itself as a home automation system."1

Sounds pretty cool. You talk to a small device and it talks back. Heck, it even tells you a joke, if you ask it to. Folks, it is official, we are living in the future.

I have been intrigued with the Alexa IPA (intelligent personal assistant) since it first came out, then appeared on my Kindle Fire and then it was on my Amazon Fire TV Stick. I was hooked. I was beyond hooked, I was mesmerized. Here is the perfect opportunity to be part of an emerging technology. VOICE.

So what did I do to be part of this emerging technology?

During the recent Amazon Prime Day the Echo Dot was available at a price that was too hard to resist.

While I was waiting for my very own Echo Dot to arrive, I brainstormed and came up with a couple of ideas. However, I wanted to proof of concept as well as making certain that I was not in over my head when it came to creating a new Alexa skill.

Doing my homework, I discovered there are approximately 15,000 Skills (and climbing) so why not add one more to the list of skills? That's what I did.

What I did is put my daily audio,  the Walking Leader podcast, Going Beyond The Grind-Going Beyond The Hustle (Facebook video)  and the Amazon Skill development tool to get all that put together. A few days later, the approval email came in from Amazon and here is the link for  you to get my new Amazon Alexa Skill: Walking Leader Flash Briefing.

Now I am even more hooked. You can be too. Looking back, I was not in over my head. It was actually quite easy to create the "Flash Briefing". What I am saying is you can create your own. All you need is an account on the Amazon Developer Platform. If you have an account on Amazon then you already have an account on the Amazon Developer platform. You are going to need a few things the most important is having a audio content that resides (is stored) on SSL enabled web-hosting service.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the "standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral."2

How do you know if you have an SSL enable web-hosting service? Simple, when people go to you website do they see HTTPS:// or HTTP://? If the see HTTPS then you are good to go. If not, then contact your web hosting provider to get the SSL added. Be warned, the SSL might cost you to install. However, once you have the SSL in place you are well on your way to having your Alexa Skill ready for the world.

If you have a message you want to share with the world, then give it a shot. Now is the time to get in on this new emerging technology. I am excited to be part of all this and I know you will be, as well.


Thank you,
David Guerra

I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @daveguerra • visit my website: www.daveguerra.com

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13 June 2017

Now that the Golden State Warriors Won, Let’s Talk about Teams by David Guerra

“Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors for winning the 2017 NBA Championship. Congratulations for creating the beginning of the end of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.”

That is most certainly one of the headlines you will be reading in the coming days. Delivering congratulations to a team then singling out one player and his team. One loss of a series of games and everyone is ready to throw in the towel for this individual, stellar NBA player. They are also ready to throw in the towel for his team. His entire team.

What does this all mean? It means that all over, LeBron James is recognized as the one individual that is the heart, soul and glue of the Cleveland Cavaliers. How can that be? How can it be that outsiders see this as the LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers instead of “The Cleveland Cavaliers”?

It is so easy for people to drive a wedge between a player and his team. The media is no help, they have all but exalted the most honorable and most high “King James” as they like to call him. Yet, what about the team? Do they call the Cavaliers something like “King James and his court”? You had better believe they do. They do so much that when the team does not do well you can almost hear the teaser commercials call it “King James and his court jesters”.

Seriously, not even James believes that nonsense or does he? While he has been quoted as saying, “There is a lot of pressure put on me, but I don't put a lot of pressure on myself. I feel if I play my game, it will take care of itself.” However, when has he been heard saying or asking not to be called “King James”?

James is a very good player. He does what he can to distinguish himself on the basketball playing court. There is no argument there. However, what about the team. It takes a great team to end the NBA Playoffs year after year. It takes a greater team to enter the NBA finals but the greatest team for the season is the one that wins the NBA Championship.

That last paragraph NEVER mentions an individual. It mentions teams. To be great players of the game and the sport you have to be bigger that the game. This means having to be more than the sum of all your teammates. That is why the Los Angeles Lakers and the Chicago Bulls will always remain great teams (no matter the Win-Loss record). It takes a team to make great teams. When one individual is elevated to a position above his own team, then is the team truly great?

To be great team and great team members, the individuals must believe in the team and the team must believe in ALL the individuals to make the team great. From game one to game 82, the team must work together as one cohesive unit with each member of that team doing his part. Eighty-two games later, if they worked and worked with one mission and vision, they enter the play offs. They advance as a team. They move forward building their legacy by being a team. One day, history will look back on that team and its legacy and with a little luck it will call that team GREAT. Then and only then will history decide which individual or individuals were great. Until then, this is still a game played by a TEAM and as a TEAM!

Thank you,
David Guerra

I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @daveguerra • visit my website: www.daveguerra.com

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07 May 2017

Banks & Credit Unions & Real Estate by David Guerra

This past weekend, I saw a commercial from a local Credit Union. There was nothing unique about the commercial, it was your regular run of the mill here we are and come shop with us. The commercial was talking about the convenience of doing business with  the Credit Union. The commercial mentioned the many locations in the general area and then they went in for the kill. They introduced their new service and new location for that service: REAL ESTATE.

While it makes sense that a business expand into the sensible extension of the services they are already offering. For the organization, this is GREAT business. Generating revenue from many sources. Heck, I wish I was generating revenue like that.
 
Yet, is this good business for the customer? Yes and No!
 
Credit Unions have their depositors believing they are part owners of the Credit Union. They do this by offering token "dividends", special "members only" services and other contributions. The truth is this is a business and with or without your approval. Business is done based on what the business and its board members agree must be done. Remember, the board members are usually the ones with the most at stake with the Credit Union than the average depositor.
 
Before I continue I should in full disclosure say the following: I AM NOT A MEMBER OF ANY CREDIT UNION. I was in the past but I am NOT a member now. Reason I left the Credit Union is that I moved to another state and needed the services of a local banking institution.
 
Moving on.
 
While it is great for the organization to expand its services, the problem that when a member of the Credit Union buys a home they use the new REAL ESTATE SERVICE to broker the deal from finding a home to the initial offer to the financing and finally to the closing. While it may be convenient for the member of the Credit Union it is also too convenient.
 
It makes no sense why any individual would want to have their home mortgage where they do their banking.  This applies to the automobile dealerships, why would anyone want to finance their new car at the dealership. Of course, the salesman will tell you they will get you a "good deal" because they work with their financiers "all the time". It is no lie, but, they also fail to admit something else, the reward or incentives (paid to the dealership and trickle down to the salesman) for using the service to finance customers.
 
When someone arrives pre-approved (from the bank or credit union) the salesman will service you enough to the pre-approved limit. When a customer walks in cold, the entire interaction becomes a shark feeding frenzy. Things like "undercoating", "rustproofing", other accessories and services added to the final price. As the price increases, the amount financed increases, thus the reward or incentive to the dealership increases.
 
When it comes to other transactions like the real estate service offered by a credit union how does it compare? It does not! It does not compare because they are using the same transaction model as the auto dealership. This model works for them and it will work for about any other situation that calls for a financing situation (think home furnishings).
 
Still not convinced? Do you go to your Pastor to ask for their advice on how to repair a faulty O2 sensor? No! You go to your Pastor for spiritual advice. Do you go to your Dentist for advice on which roofing shingles are best for your Mid-Century Modern. NO!
 
So, why go and have the Credit Union to act as your Real Estate Agent?


Thank you,
David Guerra

I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @daveguerra • visit my website: www.daveguerra.com

To order your copy of Great To Follow: Amazon paperback / Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble paperback
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27 April 2017

Journaling Your Leadership by David Guerra

When it comes to journaling and leadership the two have to go together like peanut butter and jelly. Writing down the actions of the day and recalling them at a later time is the main reason biographies of great military, political and business leaders are written. It is the exact same reason for you to journal your daily events.  Document activities as they happen. Obviously, there are times you cannot go into specifics (to protect the privacy of all parties) however you can present enough information that when you need it, there it is. However, all of this is not possible if you do not have the right materials to do the right job.

• Always have writing materials.

Any leader that has been a great follower knows to always carry something to write with and something to write on is vital to your existence. Typically, that means carrying paper and pen. Unless you like remembering names, dates, and other information it is best that you carry that paper and pen(s) at all times. However, I have recently seen a disturbing trend: People writing important (critical) information on the palm of their hand.

I cannot understand why people would take such a chance. Yet, they seem to have no problem writing names on the palm of their hand and hoping they don't sweat it away. Folks, don't take a chance and smudge a name or a word, don't take a chance of misspelling a word or running out of room to write. Make it part of your everyday carry (EDC) kit, have paper (notepad, note cards, journal) and pen or pens or pencil.

Having this will allow you to keep important information handy and within arm's reach.

• Document Everything especially names, times, places, and events.

Now that you have something to write with and something to write on what do you do? You start writing, of course. Now you ask, but what do you write? Great question. If you have never written in a journal you start slow.

At first, just give the highlights. However, the highlights should include names, times, places, and events. Then as you get more comfortable with your writing you start including things like time of day, weather, and actual dialogue.

As leader, now it becomes even more important to document, chronicle, or whatever you want to call it, all your daily interactions no matter how mundane or important. Treat every interaction as the same. As anyone who has spent anytime managing people you have to document or it didn't happen.
The ability to efficiently and effectively document your day will increase as you do it every day. Once you are effective and efficient, you will be able to describe and document situations with the best of them.  That documentation will come in handy as you move along in your career or time as a leader.

• Refer to the past to create a new future.

Once you are well on your way to journaling or documenting your day-to-day adventures as a leader something unique starts to happen, you are building a library. A library of events, situations, and how you handled them. This library built from your daily journaling not only shows you what happened in the past but helps guide you in the present and the future.

When a situation arises and it is similar to something that happened in your past, you can quickly refer to your journal(s) and instantly you have a point of reference not only to help you figure out what to do but to ensure that as a manager you remain consistent.

Keep journaling, even when you think that life is boring. It is a great tool to show your kids or those you mentor that life is mostly boring but when it isn't life can be a challenge. Future challenges will be in good company as you will have a resource, a recollection that allows you to use the past to address the present.

Keep writing.

Thank you,
David Guerra

I invite you to follow me on Twitter: @daveguerra • visit my website: www.daveguerra.com

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