Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My dear friend Liz rescued a lost dog who burrowed into her fenced backyard nearly two weeks ago.  She was accustomed to hearing her neighbor's large dogs, but a different bark attracted her attention.  A small, polite dog was most appreciative that Liz recognized his presence.  She welcomed him into her home and found no identification.  Though she's not a pet owner, she promptly made provisions for her new friend.  She quickly posted fliers for all neighbors to see.  As she continued to nurture this waif without response, I told her that she should name this most fortunate stranger Lucky.

Liz nurtured this lucky dog while trying to find his family.  After the first several days, she tried many times to place him in a rescue facility. Thankfully for Lucky, but unfortunately for our community's many abandoned animals, there were no available shelters.

After nearly two weeks, Liz received the anticipated call to claim the dog.  Fortunately for the owner, none of the many facilities Liz contacted during the past two weeks could accept another dog.  This lucky dog was one "yes we can take him" away from being removed from Liz's loving home and potentially permanently separated from his family.

I was thrilled when Liz told me this morning that this lucky dog and his family would be reunited.  I was blown away when she confirmed that his name is Lucky.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Communications Strategies Every Leader Needs to Know

Dianna Booher captivated our audience at Comerica's recent Women's Business Initiative luncheon in Dallas as she energetically shared communications strategies we all need to know. It's clear that Dianna is a communication expert by examining just a few of her 45 book titles that collectively have sold almost 3 million copies in 16 languages in 23 countries.

The true measure of authoritative, persuasive and credible communications is in the results. What we say and intend is not always what a listener hears. Though most people would interpret a one in a million chance to mean "no way", it can be interpreted by the listener that there is still a chance.
In many communications, there is only a 50% chance that the conclusion intended was reached. Her tips for improving understanding include:

  1. Specificity
  2. Verification
We all need to be able to think on our feet and she offered a four-part process:
  1. One sentence summary
  2. Elaboration
  3. Example
  4. Restatement of the one sentence summary
Communications speed is a current measure of quality. In a Booher Consultants survey they discovered that 87% of respondents expect a response within 4 hours. The remaining 13% were even more impatient, expecting a response within 1 hour.

Dianna's presentation provided a vivid reminder that excellent communications skills can lead to extraordinary careers and relationships. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Overcoming Fear

Martha Beck's keynote today put fear into perspective for me:
  • First world fears and third world fears are vastly different.  Comparatively, many of our fears are superficial versus theirs which are survival oriented.
  • Some of the things we fear, when addressed, become the biggest catalysts for our success
  • Successfully addressing incremental stress builds strength
Regardless of the nature of our fears, they are real to us.  However, putting them into broader perspective often helps to deal with them more rationally and less emotionally. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Presence to Presents

Today was another reminder of how incredibly connected we all are.  My early morning meeting led to a conversation later in the day about personal, corporate and nonprofit connectedness.  This connectedness may lead to additional corporate recognition and thus supplemental charitable giving to a terrific nonprofit.

A chance meeting of a relocated nonprofit professional at my next meeting led to a possible job match with an inquiring nonprofit executive during a returned telephone call later in the day.

Our presence always has the chance to lead to presents.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stay in the Game

I enjoy card games.  It's easy to get distracted when playing on the computer - phone calls, questions, emails, thinking about an important project or daydreaming.  In the card game of hearts, the two best outcomes are to take as few tricks containing points as possible, or to take them all.  Distractions can cause one to lose track of the tricks taken.  If one focuses exclusively on not taking tricks, the door can be opened for another to take all of the tricks. When we are distracted, we can lose sight of the bigger objective of winning the game versus avoiding losing a hand.

Most often effectively competing in the game of cards, business or life involves taking carefully calculated risks.  It's easiest to do when we are clear about our ultimate objectives and commit to keep our head and heart in the game.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Be Your Best Self

We are all asked to adapt and embrace change - sometimes more frequently than we are willing to accept.  However, when we are part of a large organization and change is thrust upon us, we need to remember that all of our actions impact our customers.  Though our competence with new systems may be minimal, our sincerity in working through the changes on their behalf will be the stories positively retold.

When I react as I'd like to be treated or know (from asking) that a customer would like to be treated, I am able to put my best self forward.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Daylight Savings Time prompted me to complete a fast-paced 30 minute walk before starting my business day today. As I moved briskly through our 10-street neighborhood, I noticed possible subtle improvements, with potential for big impact, that existing homeowners could easily make if they only recognized them.  Too often we see things in our personal and business lives as they are, without examining how they might be incrementally or significantly better.

We owe it to ourselves, families, friend groups, nonprofit organizations and companies to periodically objectively consider what incremental and monumental steps we should consider to maximize our impact.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Passion for Children

DePelchin Children's Center has been serving the needs of Houston children and families since 1892.  Services have expanded through the years and include mental health, residential treatment, foster care, adoption, education and prevention.

The vision is aspirational: We envision a world in which every child is safe and healthy.

And the mission is to strengthen the lives of children by enhancing their mental health and physical well-being.

I've had the privilege of serving on the board of this amazing organization for many years and am thrilled with the commitment, professionalism and passion consistently demonstrated by the staff and board.

There are so many ways to make a positive impact for all who have a passion for the well-being of children and all of our children need opportunities, resources and advocates.  Many of us had the privilege of growing up in loving homes with supportive families.  Not every child has this experience.  If you're looking for a chance to change the world, consider sharing your time, talent and/or treasure with one of the many terrific organizations committed to strengthening the lives of children.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Silent Treatment

Don't disengage your folks with the silent treatment.  When you ask an associate to represent the organization with media, community organizations or elected officials - support them when they do!

I once participated in a company sponsored media interview that appeared on the front page of the Sunday Houston Chronicle business section.  Though I received numerous positive mentions from friends,  associates, colleagues and my boss, others who should have weighed in were conspicuously absent.

I could easily have wall-papered the organization, sending the feedback from this company initiated interview to everyone who might need to know (or matter to my career), but I didn't.  This was probably a mistake, in a very hierarchical organization.

Sometimes doing the right thing unjustly invokes the silent treatment.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Morning Light

Those of us who live in the city are surrounded by street lights, landscape lighting, billboards, interior and exterior commercial building lights and headlights.  As I left for Austin at 5:45 this morning, it didn't seem particularly dark. But as I reached a rural stretch, suddenly the pre-dawn darkness enveloped me.  It hadn't occurred to me that a significant part of my road trip would be governed by nighttime speed limits. 

I realized that the sun rather than my city clock determines when morning begins for much of the commuting world.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Learning from One Another

As part of the acquisition of my bank, we've changed technology platforms.  We communicate extensively internally and externally using email, contacts and electronic calendaring.  All of this changed dramatically, causing us to learn new ways of performing once familiar tasks.  The frustration is alleviated and the learning curve accelerated as team members discover and share ways to accomplish what we need to do. 

We all go through phases of competency as we adopt new ways of doing things.  Sharing lessons learned reinforces learning throughout the team.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

That Looks Good

Edgar and I walked up to our favorite neighborhood restaurant for dinner tonight.  It's always crowded on weekends, but was also booming on a Tuesday evening.  As we were leaving, Edgar spotted an intriguing dish and stopped to ask about it.  Not too surprisingly, in my "everything's connected" world, his question caused me to turn around and be able to greet a long time business friend and meet her son and husband.  We soon discovered that the yummy treat was a birthday surprise for her husband.

Perfect opportunities present themselves every day to further our relationships.  Sometimes it only requires curiosity about a tasty looking treat.