April Fools

Your shoes are untied… made you look!

I mean seriously, how can we resist when we have to write a Monday Morning Stretch for April Fool’s Day! But, where did all this foolishness about April 1st come from? We did a little research and here’s what we found:

Historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These pranks included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as poisson d’avril (April fish), said to symbolize a young, “easily hooked” fish and a gullible person.

April Fools’ Day spread throughout Britain during the 18th century. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event, starting with “hunting the gowk,” in which people were sent on phony errands (gowk is a word for cuckoo bird, a symbol for fool) and followed by Tailie Day, which involved pranks played on people’s derrieres, such as pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on them.

In 1985, Sports Illustrated tricked many of its readers when it ran a made-up article about a rookie pitcher named Sidd Finch who could throw a fastball over 168 miles per hour.

In 1996, Taco Bell, the fast-food restaurant chain, duped people when it announced it had agreed to purchase Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell and intended to rename it the Taco Liberty Bell. In 1998, after Burger King advertised a “Left-Handed Whopper,” scores of clueless customers requested the fake sandwich.

Funny stuff. Here’s our list for things we think are just plain foolish on any day of the year:

  • Worrying
  • Comparisons
  • Jealousy
  • Regrets
  • Hatred
  • Resentment
  • Rigidity
  • Judgements
  • Scarcity mentality
  • Not booking your seat at one of our upcoming workshops (details below)
    • Inspirational Speaker’s Workshop
    • Transformational Trainer’s Workshop
    • Leaders of the Pride Workshop

Here’s a list of what we feel entirely justified feeling a bit foolish about anytime, anywhere:

  • Love
  • Fun
  • Generosity
  • Acceptance
  • Living in the present moment
  • Faith
  • Flexibility
  • Gratitude
  • Babies (of any kind!)
  • A sense of humor
  • Kindness
  • Always having something REALLY fun to look forward to on our calendars!
  • Snakes (okay… April Fools!)

Today, have some fun but always be kind in your distribution of April Fool’s Day pranks. And, we hope your first week of April is full of all kinds of fun things to feel foolish about!

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A Jar Full of Love

Pet peeves. We’ve all got ’em. I hate it when guys leave the toilet seat up and I fall right into it in the middle of the night. I hate it when someone takes the last of anything and doesn’t restock it or add it to the grocery list. I hate it when the express checkout lane of 15 items or less is full of carts overflowing with groceries.

In everyday life, it’s easy to slip into a negative state of mind without even knowing it. If like me, you really want to live a life that contributes positively to the people around you and the world at large, then all you need are couple of tools that will help you to do what we call The Flip.

If I hate it when guys leave the toilet seat up, then the reverse is that I love it when they don’t. If I hate it when someone doesn’t restock after taking the last of something, then the reverse is also true… I love it when they do. The Flip is simply reversing the negative to a positive. Super simple to do, slightly harder when it comes to breaking our habits of complaining, whining, and blaming.

Last week, at our Leaders of the Pride Workshop, one of the attendees shared an idea she had implemented in her practice called the “Love Jar.” For one week, she asked everyone on the team to notice their pet peeves. She asked them to write The Flip of those on a post-it note and place in the jar she had labeled the “Love Jar.”

Starting the following week, they pulled one or two notes from the Love Jar to read at their morning meeting.

  • I love it when I walk in the kitchen and people have washed and put away their own dishes.
  • I love it when someone is nice enough to do their dishes as well as all the others that were left in a rush in the sink.
  • I love it when my team mates have a few extra minutes and ask what they can do to help me.
  • I love it when an administrator asks the clinical team for our advice about where and when to put an emergency patient.

If you want to reduce negative behaviors, then encourage the good ones. We always find what we’re looking for, so this week… look harder for what you love than what you hate. I promise you’ll find it.


“It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive
and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.”
~~Robert H. Schuller

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Faults and Forgiveness

Last week, I received a blog from my colleague, Joan Garbo, and was blown away by the beautiful way in which she expresses the idea of “work-ability” and the value of treating others as you’d want to be treated… especially when it comes to forgiveness and seeking the best in our teammates. This is a strong tenant of LionSpeak leadership and something we teach at our Leaders of the Pride Workshop.

If you’d like to transform your team into competent leaders and mature communicators or learn how to coach others to their full potential, please consider joining us near Cincinnati, Ohio on May 9-10 or in San Diego, CA on November 12-13. If you already teach leadership or any other set of skills and would like to learn how to help your attendees or coachees attain more mastery, consider attending our Transformational Trainer’s Workshop in Costa Mesa, CA on April 10-11 at the CareCredit Headquarters.

With Joan’s permission, I’m sharing her wisdom and beautiful post with all of our loyal LionSpeak subscribers this week. Thank you, Joan, for reminding us all of how to look through fresh eyes, remain humble, and to BE the change we wish to see.

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is an old adage that has application broader than as a guide to yard sale shopping. In fact, it’s in the labeling of ‘trash’ or ‘treasure’ that determines the value of something, rather than the thing itself. In other words, ‘beauty lives in the eye of the beholder,’ another wise adage which points to the power that the speaker has, whether the speaker realizes it or not.

And therein lies the rub. While you may think someone is an idiot, someone else thinks s/he is brilliant. You think someone is unattractive while someone else finds him/her beautiful. While you can’t stand to be around him/her, someone else yearns to be with him/her 24-7.

In these cases (and more!) no one is right and no one is wrong! You are not hired to like everyone; you were hired to collaborate, cooperate and get along as a team to produce the best result in the most efficient way possible. In the same way, you also don’t get to choose which patients/customers you like or don’t like and then treat them according to your tastes. The boss/doctor/owner chooses with whom s/he will do business and your job is to provide service at the level promised.

With that being said, I don’t mean to imply that you should accept, tolerate or endorse anyone being disrespectful, unappreciative, domineering or other negative or abusive behavior from others. People who operate that one-sidedly actually comprise less than 10% of all the people with whom you come in contact. (A subject for another time.) What I do mean is that when you have ‘personality clashes,’ especially those with whom you work or need to get along, remember those people have as much difficulty getting along with you as you have with them. They see your faults easier than they see your gifts; they get as annoyed with you as you do with them. It’s like looking in a weird mirror that reflects your feelings rather than your image.

I can count on the fact that you want to be seen in your best light and to have your faults and shortcomings overlooked or forgiven. And so do they. Now, you can wait for the other person to step up and forgive first, but I believe that the world needs fewer spectators and more heroes who are willing to take the risk and ‘save the day.’ What’s actually at risk is ego; what’s at stake is peace, harmony and at the very least work-ability. As Dr. Phil (McGraw) often says, “You can be right or you can be happy!”

The first step in creating more work-ability is to forgive as you want to be forgiven, and to view the other person through the eyes of that person’s loved ones rather than your own. The second step is to have a facilitated communication meeting in which both of you make respectful requests of each other. For instance, “I request that when you want me to do something that takes me away from what I am working on, you first ask me if I have the time to talk, and then make a request rather than give me an order.”

No one is perfect. We all have assets and faults. Look for and speak to the highest in each other and forgive the rest!   ~Joan Garbo, March 11, 2019


“The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest.
And the first to forget is the happiest.”
~Lea Griffith

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Dog Training for Humans

This week, we are picking a subscriber favorite from our archives as
our lead Lioness  
heads to New York City as part of the Dental Business
Institute teaching faculty.  
We know she’ll do a fabulous job with her
students who are enrolled to learn ways to  
scale their
businesses because she is a skilled trainer and master of adult learning.
This recycled Monday Morning Stretch from May 2016 will show you why…

Last week, we graduated another class of amazing Transformational Trainers into the world. Not only am I honored and excited to launch these instructors into their respective arenas of teaching but this workshop also re-grounds the adult learning techniques and benefits within me. It’s important because the opportunities to help people gain mastery with the skills they need to be successful are everywhere and available to all of us. Today was a great example.

As I write this, Tom and I took a nice drive to a beautiful campground in the mountains where our new dog trainer, Jay, was camping and fishing with his family. Jay suggested this as a perfect location for our second lesson in a six-week intensive training course for our new puppy, Shiloh, with the ultimate goal of complete, off-leash obedience under any distraction. Lord knows I LOVE an outdoor classroom with hiking trails and mountain views!

Two weeks ago, our first lesson had focused on establishing our leadership with an “off” command. This morning, the goal was to learn to recall Shiloh to us immediately with a “come” command. For Jay, who trained under Cesar Milan, the training techniques are deeply ingrained, seemingly effortless, and almost immediately effective with Shiloh. For Tom and me, not so much.

The first thing he did was to break the skill down into four distinct steps. He began with me because long before he would ever involve Shiloh, he would attempt to adequately train the human animal prior to the canine one. Turns out she gets the training a whole lot quicker than we do anyway. Acting like the dog and the trainer, Jay demonstrated how I should call Shiloh’s name (only once) to get her attention and then simultaneously tug the leash (immediately releasing the tension), say the “come” command and vibrate (or “nick”) the training collar she wears.

Sounds pretty simple, right? Name, tug, release, come, nick. Yeah? Well. You try it!

And that’s just the first part. The second part was continuing to employ the “tug, come, nick” technique every time she did anything other than walking straight to me. The third part was to praise her only when she was walking straight toward me and toward a spot where I did not have to reach out very far to pet her. The fourth and final stage was for me to physically back up while praising her so that her animal instincts would kick in and encourage her to come trotting towards me. Yikes! As I tried to make one hand control the leash and the other control the handset, my feet back up, my mouth utter the verbal commands in order and at a constant volume and my mind remember it all in order… I felt like I had some kind of learning disability as I stumbled and fumbled and bumbled my way through my first few attempts.

We practiced each step until I could do it and then layered on the next. We practiced and practiced and practiced. And then…. we got the dog. After 30 more minutes of trading off, practicing, and being coached by Jay… the dog, Tom and I all looked like we needed some really big treats and a nice long nap.

Jay walked us back to the campsite reminding us that we were all doing great. He told us we were right on track and that Shiloh was a wonderfully smart and sweet dog and we were terrific owners. He reassured us that this would get easier with practice and with patience. And, with a slight smile, he said he’d look forward to seeing our progress next weekend and giving us yet again a slightly more challenging command to work on. Oh, goodie.

But Jay did it right. He broke the task down to its smallest parts. He demonstrated what both sides of the interaction looked like. He practiced each part independently with us before we even engaged the dog and then layered each subsequent piece on as we gained some confidence with the last one. It wasn’t until we had some fluidity that he began to add on “real life” like taking Shiloh on the trail and having us recall her to us with other dogs walking up to her. And lastly, he was patient with us, and with the countless times we failed, and encouraged us when we become frustrated with our own lack of progress. He left us with praise, humor, and reassurance.

So this week when you are teaching a workshop, training a new employee, incorporating a new verbal skill or piece of technology, or even helping your 8th grader study for a final exam… remember what Jay and all great teachers and trainers know: Break it down, demonstrate success, layer on complexity and real life when they have mastered the skill under easier conditions… and most importantly, teach with patience and leave them with praise, humor, and encouragement.

They should be off-the-leash and off-and-running in no time!


“If you can’t explain simply, you don’t know it well enough.”
~~Albert Einstein

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Stop Boring Me!

It’s 2:30 p.m., but it feels like 6:00. You’ve been in this seminar since sometime this morning and, while it’s been full of good information, you’re on overload and squirming in your seat. Can you relate? We all can. Later, when you try to bring all your carefully written notes back to your team at next week’s team meeting… they are likely to feel just the same way.

It’s 4:00 p.m., but it only feels like 2:00. This day can’t possibly be over! Where has the time gone? You were just getting started. That’s strange. There was no 300-slide PowerPoint presentation, no 20-page handout. Yet you’ve learned several pieces of great, useable information. You feel empowered and inspired to use it tomorrow. This was definitely one of the best speakers you’ve heard in years.

Data dump or inspired training? Which one would you rather sit through? If you’re like most of us, it is inspired training that results in participant-centered learning. Confucius knew what he was talking about in 451 B.C. when he said, “What I hear I forget; what I see I remember; what I do I understand.”

Do you want to breathe life back into your team meetings and training sessions? Then, make the shift from manager or lecturer to transformational trainer. Take the information and skills you want to relay to your team members and transform it from instructor-led teaching to participant-centered learning.

Bob Pike, an expert in adult learning and training, uses the 90/20/8 rule in his training sessions. No module they ever teach runs more than 90 minutes without a break. Participants are asked to participate with or review the presented material every 20 – 30 minutes, and they try to find a way to involve people in the content or change the pace of delivery every 8 minutes. This is based on Tony Buzan’s book, Use Both Sides of Your Brain. Buzan’s findings are that the average adult can only listen with attention for 90 minutes and can only listen with retention for 20. In a 2-hour team meeting, you have (6) 20-minute segments. The following is a simple formula to turn those segments into interactive learning modules that keep your team’s interest and help them truly learn rather than just listen. (And how much do we love that it nicely coordinates with Lionesses? A lot!)

C.A.T. – Chunk, Activity, Test

Chunk Content: There is no end to the content you might wish to teach such as improving phone skills or taking better x-rays, more complete data entries or understanding the business statistics and goals. Your objective is to have them do more than simply listen, understand, and agree. The key is to help them retain, perform, and replicate. Whatever the content, first break it into small, manageable chunks. For example, if you want to improve phone skills, divide that topic into four sections such as 1) introduction and rapport, 2) identifying patient concerns and needs, 3) offer appropriate solutions, and 4) get necessary information and resell value. Prepare the content to be taught in these smaller modules.

Activity. In advance, select a participation exercise for each of the four topic sections. After teaching/discussing one of the modules of information, create an exercise where the team members can get their “hands on the material” themselves. For example, you might do an exercise called “Each One Teach One” where participants teach their partner the new skill as if they had not heard it before. For the second topic section you might have each participant go to the board and add a possible question that might be good to ask a patient on the phone, creating a practice list of great questions. For the third topic section, create a “triad” with three participants in each group. One will act as a patient, one as the team member, and one as an observer. They role-play an easy scenario and rotate. This allows for a triple review and everyone gets the hot seat once. For the last topic section, use a “dice roll” where participants role a die and recall things that they have learned or will commit to doing better for every number they roll. In this formula, everyone has fun, learns, actively participates, and is engaged in mind and body.

Test. There are many kinds of testing mechanisms such as written “fill in the blank” reviews with group-designed questions based on the material, skills practice exercises, or even taping yourself or hiring a “mystery patient” service. It is in the fourth and final piece that you not only test the learning of the participants but, more importantly, the effectiveness of the trainer. If your group continues to struggle and fail at passing the test, it is likely that you should look harder at your ability to train, relay, and teach the information.

We can all recall at least one teacher in our lives that had a tremendous impact on our learning. Most likely they were different from the rest. They somehow made the material come alive for you and helped and encouraged you to continue to struggle until you had that feeling of accomplishment when you finally succeeded. Help your team (your students) get their hands on the material more often and more quickly. Stop doing the data dump and help the material come alive for them. Encourage them through the struggle of learning something new. If you want inspired learning, don’t just look to your students to become better learners, look to yourself to become a more inspired trainer and teacher. Then, you’ll find that you’re both looking forward to those team meetings and training sessions!

Hey, I almost forgot! It’s also Music Monday (always the first Monday of the month) and so, just for some fun… enjoy Teach Me Tonight made famous by the iconic Dinah Washington and brilliantly covered here by the massive talent of Amy Winehouse:

Amy Winehouse – Teach Me Tonight

“Did you say I’ve got a lot to learn?
Well, don’t think, I’m tryin’ not to learn
Since this is the perfect spot to learn
Oh, teach me tonight

Let’s start with the A B C of it
Roll right down to the X Y Z of it
Help me solve the mystery of it
Teach me tonight

The sky’s a black board
High above you
If a shooting star goes by
I’ll use that star to write I love you
A thousand times across the sky

One thing isn’t very clear, my love
Should the teacher stand so near, my love?
Graduation’s almost here, my love
Come on and teach me tonight

I’ll use that star to write I love you
A thousand times across the sky

One thing isn’t very clear, my love
Should the teacher stand so near, my love?
Graduation’s almost here, my love
Teach me, please, teach me tonight”


“The illiterate of the future will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” 
~~Alvin Toffler

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The Cure for the Cancer

Last week, I wrote about the plague of negativity infecting our workplaces today. This week, I’d like to offer some relief for those of you experiencing it, whether from an individual or group of people, or as a fundamentally negative person yourself.

Motivational Speaker, Jon Gordon, refers to negative people who are unwilling to develop a more positive approach to work and life, as Energy Vampires. It’s such a perfect description because they definitely do suck the life right out of businesses, meetings, teams, families, communities, and otherwise enjoyable events.

Case in point: Years ago, my childhood friend and I traveled to Spain to tour with her son who was attending college there. As we waited to board a train bound for Valencia, we experienced an American couple running up behind us with unmanageable amounts of luggage. By their tone and volume, it was hard to miss how irked they were that the train was actually ready to board a little earlier than scheduled. As we boarded, they complained about the train being hard to roll their luggage onto, the limited space for storing their luggage, and the lack of employees to attend to their predicament in a timely fashion. When the man came around to check our tickets, they poured their complaints on to him and even after he left, they continued to speak loudly about how indicative this was of everything they had experienced so far in this country on their trip.

As my friend and I sat silently in the same car surrounded by other traveling Spaniards, we exchanged looks and had no trouble silently communicating our embarrassment at the negative behavior of the quintessential “Ugly Americans” with their entitled, grumpy attitudes. They were literally sucking the positive energy out of the train car. We had to make a determined effort to pull ourselves back into the experience we intended to have regardless of theirs.

I’ve had people say to me that they were born negative. That they have always been the one to see the proverbial half-empty glass. They sometimes refer to themselves as the “realists” among us. Even going so far as to insinuate that others who see the half-full version of life, often have their heads so deep in the sand, they risk tragic future outcomes. They tell me that they are often frustrated that they are tagged as a negative person simply because they call the truth as they see it without sugar-coating it. They aren’t willing to simply smile and pretend that it will all work out or that everything that happens is good, positive, or without a fair amount of pain.

I want to be clear. The half-empty glass exists. The half-full glass exists. They co-exist together and actually create a perfect whole. Before we make any judgements about which is better, let us agree that both are real. So then, it is a choice as to which one we focus upon. But which one delivers the greatest value to the future? I believe they both do.

Speaking, hearing, and understanding the truth of a situation is vital to improving it. The half-empty perception speaks to the truth of what has happened. The half-full perception sheds light on the future possibilities.

I’d like to suggest that the most balanced approach to creating a positive work environment is not avoiding reality or hard truths but rather developing the mindset and skillsets to reframe them into positive forward momentum and a positive impact on others. If you want to create a work (or familial) environment which operates with momentum, leaves a positive footprint, and creates a mutually enjoyable environment in which we can all do our work, then here’s the LionSpeak prescription:

1. Claim it.   At your next team meeting, make the announcement, draw the boundary line, and call your people to their highest selves. Make it clear that, starting today, this company will be built on a positive work environment with the goal of creating massive forward momentum for the work you’ve come together to do. Put yourself at the front of the line and make it clear that you will be held to the same high standard as everyone else.

2. Embrace it. Love is always the answer. Making people wrong rarely is. Most negative people don’t really strive to make a negative impact, they simply haven’t had the mindset shift or skills to transform their behavior to be more positive. We’ve all been guilty of some form of negativity and probably will be again, so embrace the humanness in the room and help the team to simply reset the counters and reach for a higher bar for themselves and others. Jon Gordon tells of a sign posted on the door of a team member at the company, Seventh Generation, which reads, “Energy Vampires Welcome. Expect to be filled up with positive energy.”

3. Define it.  Make a list together of what negativity looks like in your environment as well as alternative behaviors. For example:

Shooting down ideas
Alternative: Create or adopt a brainstorming system to create a list of unjudged ideas followed separately by listing positive aspects of each idea along with potential challenges and necessary elements for success.
> Unresolved conflicts or feelings
Alternative: learn and commit to a system for addressing disagreements and conflicting opinions.
> Complaining, blaming, gossiping
Alternative: create a code of conduct which you all sign and to which you all agree, as well as practicing non-judgmental, positive responses to those who engage in this behavior in the future.

4. Manage it. Our experience is that teams who take a courageous, honest, and clear approach to changing a negative culture, don’t have difficulty getting the majority of people on board quickly. When people do break the code and the rules, don’t wait to address it. Decide if the infraction can be positively called out in public and corrected (as in a friendly reminder of our commitments) or whether it requires a more direct approach in private. For those very few outliers who doggedly hold on to their negative ways, you must be prepared to cut them loose. Our experience is that when the entire team is committed, most people who are proud of or righteous about their negativity will take themselves out of the team on their own. It’s uncomfortable and practically impossible for true negativity to survive in the bright light of a positive culture.

5. Enjoy it.  The rewards of building a positive work environment is experienced in the smiling, happy faces who greet you, the infectious creativity unleashed in meetings, the resilience in the face of adversity and setbacks, the confidence of working on a team who’s got your back, and the joy in successfully bringing the good work you were all called to do to a world which desperately needs it… and knowing you did it together as one positive, unstoppable team of positive professionals.


“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
~~Mahatma Gandhi

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The Cancer of Negativity

Negativity. The terminal cancer of workplace culture.

Negativity is like a microscopic germ placed in a warm petri dish. Nestled in an environment with no defenses preemptively built in, it will grow, multiply, and spread so silently and slowly that it’s almost unnoticeable to others until… it’s deadly.

When a workplace has a tolerance for people who exhibit negativity, they become the unwittingly rich environment for bad things to germinate and take control. No one would say they want or support negativity or that it has a positive effect on any workplace. So why do we see it everywhere?

Well, first… what exactly qualifies as negativity? Here are some descriptors from the dictionary:

~ Unpleasant       ~ Disagreeable     ~ Gloomy             ~ Pessimistic
~ Unfavorable     ~ Hostile                ~ Disparaging     ~ Malicious
~ Opposition       ~ Resistance          ~ Negation

At LionSpeak, when we observe negativity in the workplace, we typically experience it as pessimism, passive aggressiveness, whining, complaining, gossiping, blaming others, and the constant shooting down of ideas without any alternative contributions. It also shows up physically as sour faces, rolling eyes, low energy, and mumbling under the breath.

If you think about it, being negative is lazy. Being negative means you don’t have to come up with any good ideas, you don’t have to take any responsibility for changing the status quo, you get to play the part of the victim, and you don’t have to muster any courage to handle unresolved conflicts or feelings.

When low energy, disconnection, and mumbling under the breath become the norm in a company… the business will suffer in countless ways. Clients notice and when they do, you will too… in bad or non-existent reviews, low sales acceptance, broken appointments, and low or no referrals. And, it’s a vicious cycle. So often when this occurs, we blame the economy, our industry, or our competition instead of the root cause.

During the last recession, many businesses suffered but some thrived. At LionSpeak, we observed an interesting commonality. The suffering in businesses was commensurate with the level of negativity, blame, and pessimism allowed to fester within a team. The thriving within businesses was also commensurate with the level of positivity, creativity, and optimism which was truly alive and maintained consistently within the team. And, there was one more important observation: Those teams that never missed a beat were the ones that had the strongest muscles already when it came to positivity. They didn’t start when the recession hit… they were already primed and ready. It was already a strong corporate value and a way of life.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll explore how to combat negativity in a positive way for all involved. But, for this week… know this: Extracting negativity in all it’s forms and with all it’s debilitating outcomes starts at the very top. The bottom line is that the leader of the team or organization must make it crystal clear and non-negotiable that negativity will not be tolerated or accepted. Period. And, then the real work begins in shaping your people and providing them with the mindsets, skill sets, tool sets, and support to do better once they know better. You’ll be surprised at the astounding turnarounds when the petri dish of your work environment no longer supports the germs of negativity and only fosters positive behaviors and attitudes.


“I think that life is difficult. People have challenges. Family members get sick,
people get older, you don’t always get the job or the promotion that you want.
You have conflicts in your life. And really, life is about your  
resilience and your
ability to go through your life and all of the ups and downs with a positive attitude.” 

~Jennifer Hyman

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A Culture of the Heart

I spent a couple of rich, productive days with my dear friend, Mary Fox, recently. There are just certain people who consistently and effortlessly fill your bucket, and she is one of them!

Mary had just returned from a trip to Jamaica with her husband, and they stayed at a beautiful Hyatt resort on the island. In a conversation we were having about the idea of creating culture within a business and team, she shared how impressed she was with the sincere culture of caring exhibited by the entire staff at the Hyatt. She knew that most employees of large, luxury hotels are well-trained in customer service, and sometimes that results in a feeling of insincerity and over-compensation. But, at this resort, she somehow felt it was truly coming from the heart.

It took her a few days to notice that when she interacted with or passed by a resort employee, they would often put their hand softly over their heart and greet her or ask, “How can we take care of you today?”

When she thanked one of them for something, instead of the common, “No problem,” they responded with, “My pleasure” or with a simple, “You’re welcome.”

She noticed that their eye contact, focus, pace, and energetic connection was sincere and spot on.

All of these added up to a feeling of warmth, connection, and a sincere desire to serve. So how do we build a culture of the heart in our businesses?

First, you must define cultural and brand values for your business. Brand values dictate how you will behave with clients and the promises you will make to the marketplace. Cultural values define how you will behave with one another as a team and are internal promises you make for working within your company. Then, you train your people and arm them with the skills to be consistent and authentic when they deliver on both.

I believe it is highly likely that the Hyatt in Jamaica had clearly defined values both for clients and for their internal team along with some great training … and it showed.

This week consider what your brand and cultural values are for your business and team. How well have you communicated these values, and what training do you have in place to ensure that they are demonstrated on a consistent basis and in a natural and authentic way?

If you are looking for help in building a culture of service and teamwork, you must know how to coach your employees on an ongoing basis. You can learn these and other important leadership skills at our Leaders of the Pride workshops in San Diego and Ohio in 2019. Join Us! We’d love to introduce you to a whole new way of continually growing your team to greatness.


“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job
every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.”
– Jeff Bezos

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Music Monday: From Now On

In high school, I was a member of the National Honor Society and, in turn, was also a clarinet player in the band, dancer on the drill team, cheerleader on the cheerleading squad, and sang as a member of my church choir. I tell you all of this to say that I had many great “team” experiences very early in my life.

But, by far, the most satisfying one came late in my senior year when a newly hired drama teacher decided to put together an acting team to compete in a sanctioned one-act play competition. I auditioned and landed one of the major roles in the play.

I’m not sure why this particular team endeavor was more powerful for me than the others. Many of the other teams I had participated with where larger and grander. But, only this one left me still wanting to participate in it, 45 years later.

The play was called Goodbye to the Clown and had only six characters. I played a grieving mother of a young boy trying to process the death of his father. The role required me to look much older so my director put me in a matronly dress, cooking apron, and brown wig… which definitely did the trick. You can imagine the uproarious laughter and snide remarks from my classmates when I walked on stage at the dress rehearsal before our entire school prior to the competition. I had thought I was ready, but that perceived ridicule caught me by surprise and shook my confidence. Our drama coach knew it.  The evening of our final practice, she took me aside and said,

“In all the years I’ve been coaching drama students, I’ve never met one that was more authentic in their role, more passionate about their performance or more committed to practice as you. But tonight, for some reason, you’re hesitant and playing small, and I think I know why.

Your classmates laughed at you earlier today for about 30 seconds when you appeared on stage. They did it because it was a shock for them to see you for the very first time 100% in character. Now, you’re allowing that short, initial, and understandable reaction to overshadow the 30 minutes that followed of intense performance in which you could have heard a pin drop. You’ve hyper-focused on a short event instead of the long game. 

As we compete, unexpected things are going to happen while you’re on stage. Whether it’s a surprising reaction from the audience, a prop malfunction, a lighting snafu, a stumble, forgotten lines by you or a fellow actor, or a coughing fit that suddenly steals your voice, your job is to expect the unexpected, stay in character, welcome it, dance with it, absorb it, move through it and use it to feed your passion for the work. Do that, and you’ll be a true actor. Do that, and we will be unstoppable.”

When our small-town drama troupe managed to make it all the way to the Texas State Regionals, everyone, including us, was shocked. I was immensely proud to be one of two actors in our group to receive an all-star cast award.

It’s satisfying to be a part of delivering something really good which was born from dedication, sacrifice, coaching, and team work. It’s also extraordinary to feel moments of sheer joy and passion in your work. I felt that for the first time in a significant way with my drama teammates, and I’ve been chasing it my whole life since.

Imagine if your team entered a competition, performing against other teams, for the very best one-act, new client experience? What would you de-construct and re-construct with more precision, flexibility, refinement, creativity, and passion? What kind of practice would you commit to, and what kind of coaching would you seek so that you could land the winning performance no matter the expected surprises?

On this Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month), I’ve chosen From Now On from the movie, The Greatest Showman, which is performed in rehearsal by Hugh Jackman and cast. The song in and of itself is inspiring, but this particular clip always stirs my soul because it demonstrates how compelling passion can be when you are working on something that matters to you and to your community. It demonstrates how true professionals dance with the unexpected, how practicing and rehearsal make for premium performances, and how unstoppable you become when true passion meets raw talent inside an amazing team.

From now on… I hope you and your team will remember what it’s like to ignite this same kind of passion in your work, that you’ll enjoy the practice it takes to create and perform at your highest level, and that you will feel and know you are absolutely unstoppable.

From Now On from The Greatest Showman

I saw the sun begin to dim
And felt that winter wind
Blow cold
A man learns who is there for him
When the glitter fades and the walls won’t hold
‘Cause from then, rubble
One remains
Can only be what’s true
If all was lost
Is more I gain
‘Cause it led me back
To you

From now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
Tonight
Let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on

I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for

And from now on
These eyes will not be blinded by the lights
From now on
What’s waited till tomorrow starts tonight
It starts tonight
And let this promise in me start
Like an anthem in my heart
From now on
From now on
From now on

And we will come back home
And we will come back home
Home, again!

From now on!

 

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Training for Success

Rapid growth, without the tools to sustain it, is a recipe for failure. Take Diane, for example.

Diane was one of the best employees we’ve come across in three decades of dental, healthcare, and executive coaching. Her official title was Practice Administrator. She was a magician — keeping the schedule filled, organizing productive meetings, keeping collections high and accounts receivables low, motivating almost anyone to start treatment, getting to work early— and she had a quick mind, great attitude, and a smile on her face. She was viewed as the “Office Manager” even though that job consisted mainly of managing vacation schedules, payroll, and some bookkeeping. She had never actually hired, fired, or disciplined any employee. She had never given a performance review nor had a coaching conversation with anyone. She did not set or review goals and had never seen a budget or a P & L statement.

One day she was called into the owner’s office to learn that he had purchased two nearby practices and would be consolidating them with his into one group practice over the next few months with future plans of adding more locations. He told Diane that because of the stellar job she had done for him and the way the team and patients loved her, he wanted to offer her the job of Practice Administrator… which was what she thought she already was… with a nice bump in salary and a few additional benefits. She would just need to watch over all three practices just like she had this one. Easy peasy, right?

Diane was flattered, excited, and anxious to help. She enthusiastically took the position… no questions asked. And, that was where the trouble began…

Over the past decade there has been a huge rise in the consolidation of healthcare, veterinary, and dental practices. To achieve economies of scale and compete with large MSO’s or DSO’s, many solo practitioners form small- to medium-size groups. This restructuring typically demands a new mid-level tier of management.

At LionSpeak, we have seen countless people promoted into these exciting positions because they were loyal, dedicated employees and very good at their jobs… be it scheduling, treatment presentations, hygiene, or chairside assisting. But, being good at a skill is not the same as being good at managing, growing, and leading a team of people. Those are different competencies altogether.

Without the proper tools, training, and ongoing support, anyone will struggle in a new position, especially if they are now in what we call the “sandwich position”… working directly between the owners and the team.

One of the most important skills a mid-level manager must master is the ability to have courageous conversations with co-workers, subordinates, and those at higher levels of leadership. They must be able to clarify, inspire, and coach their teams to higher levels of productivity and excellence. They must make sure their team members align with the owner’s vision and values. They must have crucial, sometimes hard, conversations with the leadership team when issues arise and clarification is necessary. But, they must also be able to handle these situations with grace, non-judgement, and from an emotionally-stable position, always setting the example for others on how to communicate like a pro.

Luckily, these are not difficult skills to learn, though they can take some practice to master. Without these skills, understanding how the schedule works or how to close a treatment presentation won’t make much difference because newly promoted managers can no longer do it all alone, no matter how well they did it in the past. To accomplish the goals at this level, they need a team; therefore, they must master delegation, coaching, and growth techniques.

If you find yourself in this position now or you aspire to a management position in the future or you are thinking of promoting someone within your own business… set yourself and your team up for success. Invest in training and ongoing support to help them master the skills they’ll need to inspire, nurture, and thrive with the team they are called to lead.

This is what we do at LionSpeak. We’d love to help.


“An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning
into action rapidly is the ultimate advantage.”
Jack Welsh, former CEO of GE

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