New insights, core values and must win battles LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY

Excellence is attainable when you try your hardest again and again.

How to become better? Better leader, how to be a better and happier employee a happier and better person? How can work be “happier?’ In todays economy and in motion innovative world? Who haven’t sat at a steering committee meeting? Or a Sales meeting or a weekly let’s review our KPI’s meeting? I have, and I am sure if you are reading this you to have felt the pain! Usually what happens is always the same, one person or leader, or your boss takes has the microphone  90% of the time, and you…well you listen, you take notes and it’s decided that the meeting is over when all agree that is what great and things will happen! There are meetings were things get decided, don’t take me wrong, but were YOU part of the decision making? was your point of view considered? I bet you that again 90% of the time the new product development, the new strategic plan, the NEW idea gets run by you, but not always decided as a group.  You are valuable to your company, but I can warranty that you had much more to say, much more to share and maybe yours was the tipping point that could help your company get to the next level. Happier people are believe to be those who feel a part of something important. But why do I say or know all of this, because I was that person. That passionate individual that truly believed that mission statement, that put 100% into my job. And still saw many companies that did not succeed. And by success; I don’t mean they don’t reach their sales quotas, but those organizations where everyone shares their core values, their insights, where everyone commits! Extracting core values is the NEW CODE! Bringing strategic methods to be “that organization” that everyone talks about. A company that succeeds and where everyone works better, their focused, motivated and where the channels of communication not only exist but persist! That all can change, what I call MUST WIN BATTLES, might be called many different things depending on the industry you are. But when you bring people together and they are exposed to LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY, trust me; MWB become an realistic strategic plan on its own way, where everyone participates 100% of the time in real time and decision making becomes a shared decision, where everyone has a voice and together accomplish the unthinkable! We call it HAR FUN! Creating 3D models and leveling the play field.

The purpose of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY is to maximize the full potential, insight, confidence and commitment of all the people around the table.

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Do you have what it takes to be successful?

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Do you consider yourself successful? If not, you might after reading this article. You might be closer to success than you thought. Success is defined in all kinds of ways. You may want to be rich, famous or simply leave a positive mark on the world. The only definition that matters is your own.

It’s perfectly fine to go ahead and consider yourself successful right now. You don’t have to wait for your next promotion, or the building of your dream home, to be happy. Accept where you are and where you have come from. And most importantly, enjoy it. Even if you don’t consider yourself highly successful now, you’re on your way.

Here are 20 signs that you have what it takes to be highly successful:

1. You crave knowledge

You love to learn in one format or another. It could be books, audiobooks, podcasts or videos, but the point is: you crave knowledge. You’re not constantly making excuses for why you’re not reading as much as you should be. You’re getting it done.

2. You’re planning ahead

You may be saving for retirement or investing in your children’s education. In one way or another, you’re planning ahead. You may not feel wealthy right now, but you are well on your way to creating a legacy by making those small contributions.

3. You wake up early

You may not feel like you’re conquering the world when you slowly roll out of bed, but simply getting up early aligns your habits with many of the most successful people in the world. You understand the value of the early hours and you use them to your advantage.

4. You make friends easily

Success can’t be measured merely in terms of money. Many of the richest people in the world are often the most unhappy. Having friends and family that love you sets you apart from some of the people that you may think you want to be like. Social skills and networking are key in building a successful business and creating a successful life. If you’re good at making friends, you’re on your way to doing both.

5. You have good character

Your word means something. You understand how important it is to treat others with respect. Having good character and integrity sets you apart from others, whether you realize it or not. People do notice and it will take you far.

6. You have a burning desire to help people

Many multi-million dollar business ideas started as a desire to help others. If you hold on to that desire, it will take you far. Want to start your own business? Think about how you could best serve others and start doing it. Your desire to help and serve people will serve you well in the end.

7. You’ve failed and you’ve kept going

You may have heard the terms “fail forward” or “fail up”. Failing may suck, but some of the most famous and successful people have failed the most. If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to fail…a lot. If you’re not where you want to be right now, it may simply be because you haven’t failed enough…yet. That’s OK, you’re working on it.

8. You have self-discipline and self-control

Everyone has some self-discipline and we all want more, but just the fact that you realize the importance of it means you’re on the right track. Think of all the areas in your life that you practice self-discipline and self-control. Don’t be so hard on yourself, you may have more than you think.

9. You’re always getting better

You may not feel like it, but you are always getting better. If you don’t feel like you’re improving, just measure your progress backwards. Think about where you were a year ago or two or five. I bet you’re farther along than you thought. Self-improvement is something that builds up like a snowball rolling down a hill. A tiny snowball can create an avalanche if it keeps rolling. Keep learning, keep growing and keep improving.

10. You have a giving heart

Giving is one of the foundations of healthy finances and a healthy life. It’s not about who you’re giving to. If you’re giving at all, you’re on the right track. Consider the fact that non-profit organizations receive over a trillion dollars in revenue each year. Giving is kind of a big deal.

11. You’re motivated and driven

You have passion and desire to accomplish great things. You’re driven to do something big, even if you’re not sure what it is yet. If you don’t feel motivated about your work, you may need to change things up. Figure out where your drive is taking you and you will lead yourself to success.

12. You’re able to practice patience

Believe it or not, many of the most successful people are not very patient, although almost all of them admit the importance of it. Your patience will serve you well if you embrace it. It’s one of the most important values you can have.

13. You’re the person everyone wants to be around

You have a good outlook on life. You’re optimistic. We’ve all heard about the power of positive thinking, because it’s one of the most powerful traits you can have. Being optimistic not only makes people want to be around you, it also helps you to see the good in situations, which can often lead to your success.

14. You’re confident, but not too confident

Self-confidence sets you apart from many others who have no faith in their own potential. Believing you can achieve great things is the first step to actually achieving those things. Just don’t be over-confident…that’s annoying.

15. You have successful friends

You understand the importance of surrounding yourself with successful, like-minded people. Did you know that your income is usually the average of your five best friends’ incomes? If you surround yourself with people who earn more money than you, you’re likely to get there soon.

16. You’re able to let things go

You don’t hold grudges, because you know it affects you more than it affects them. If you plan to be successful, you know you can’t hold on to that junk that doesn’t matter. You’re an adult and you know how to move on. If someone wants to hold a grudge against you, that’s their problem.

17. You understand the power of “no”

You’re not afraid to say “no” to engagements, but more importantly, you understand that saying no to low priorities means you can say yes to higher priorities. Let’s be honest, saying yes or no comes down to your priorities. You can’t always say yes and you know that.

18. You know you can’t do it alone

Successful people understand the value of asking for help. Whether it’s your marriage, other relationships or a business venture, you know that you need other people. Nobody succeeds alone and you know how to ask for help when you need it.

19. You know how to manage your time

You have your priorities and you make time for them. You know what you should be doing and you avoid what you shouldn’t be doing. You’ve developed rituals and routines that make your life more efficient and productive. Most importantly, you understand that if you can’t manage your time, you can’t manage anything.

20. You don’t criticize, condemn or complain

You know to avoid the three Cs. You’re only hurting yourself when you criticize, condemn or complain about others. There’s no room for it in your life. You understand the importance of building other people up and nurturing friendships.

You may not have all 20 of these things down yet, but you’re probably closer than you thought. Being highly successful is something that’s developed over a lifetime. You’re creating a successful life everyday. Just keep going.

The Customer is not always right! Surprised?

One of the more iconic phrases in customer service is “give ‘em the pickle,” drawn from a story by Bob Farrell regarding an unhappy customer who couldn’t get extra pickles for his hamburger.

The customer actually wrote a letter detailing the frustration he felt in his inability to get said pickles. The phrase stuck thanks to the important lesson Bob learned that day — a little extra effort in service is often all it takes to make for a great experience. The benefits of fulfilling small requests give truth to another popular idiom: that “the customer is (almost) always right.”

But what about feedback and requests that go beyond personal interactions with your company, and deal directly with your product? Should you listen to customers then? Do they understand their problem well enough to propose feasible solutions?

Related: The 3 Words Your Customers Love Most

When it comes to a product’s vision, many will tell you: customers are often poor judges of their own needs. You’ll find yourself having to say “No” most of the time, and it’s for a good reason — in regards to building the best solutions, the customer is mostly wrong.

It’s Your Job to Solve the Problem
When listening to feedback, the temptation to follow the customer’s lead is always looming. After all, they know their problem, so they are probably the best person to plot out the solution, right?

Perhaps not. A while back, I outlined Why Steve Jobs Didn’t Listen to His Customers, and what implications that had in regard to internal innovation vs. customer feedback. A mostly tongue-in-cheek headline, it turns out that Jobs and Apple, in reality, didn’t entirely disregard feedback from customers. They were just very selective in how they used it:

Perhaps this is the truth behind Apple’s innovation — Steve Jobs did actually listen to customers, but only to find out which problems they faced, and to identify the biggest points of friction they had. He did not listen to customers’ proposed solutions because his belief was that the best, most innovative solution had to come from the company.

Customers might help identify the destination, but you can’t usually listen to them on how to get there.

Where the customer tends to be consistently “right” is in that ability to point out problems.

In regards to Henry Ford’s supposed observation that people would have asked for “faster horses,” we see where the customer was actually right—identifying the need for quicker transportation.

But you needn’t be disrupting the horse and buggy industry to view feedback the same way. When someone takes time out of their day to contact you, pay attention: their thoughts could shed light on what other customers might be struggling with.

Where paths diverge is in developing with the best, most innovative solution. How do you build the solution of tomorrow around feedback that only consists of the ideas of today?

Related: 10 Stories of Unforgettable Customer Service

You can’t. Asking customers what they “want” could identify opportunities in your industry, but it does not necessarily improve or maintain a company’s competitive positioning, and following feedback too literally could leave you reacting to problems instead of proactively developing a better solution.

“Customer feedback is great for telling you what you did wrong. It’s terrible at telling you what you should do next.”
—Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote

The customer is thus “mostly wrong” because 99% of the time they will suggest faster horses.

This can be misleading: in hindsight, “faster horses” obviously wasn’t the answer, but imagine being bombarded with thousands of similar requests. It is tough to say “No” in the face of such demand, but you have to remember that popularity doesn’t dictate optimal utility.

This is why folks far more experienced in product strategy than I insist that building a great product starts with saying no—even when the suggestion is good (nobody considers bad ideas) and even when many customers ask for it.

Wade Foster describes this as an entrepreneur’s ability to stop chasing problems after their product has found product/market fit:

Once your product has achieved product/market fit (it’s likely well on it’s way when you start getting thousands of feature requests), it’s best to stop chasing problems. There will always be things that other people want your product to do.

Rather than attempting to solve all of them, which will effectively make it impossible to solve any of them, instead focus on any problem that allows the customer to achieve a must-have experience.

This might mean you turn away potentially good customers in the short term, all for the purpose of attracting great customers.

Many would agree that excessive people-pleasing after product/market fit can ruin an initially good product. You have to recognize that most suggestions from customers won’t fit your vision. You have to be able to say “No.”

This makes turning customers down a key skill in keeping support standards high, while focusing on building the product people need.

David Bland refers to the impending misery that may occur from doing the opposite as “the Product Death Cycle:”

And yet, saying “No” isn’t always easy. Product people build products because they love solving problems for customers (marketing folks like myself, who focus on customer success, feel the same way).

It’s tough turning people down. We can all use a refresher on how to say “No,” and why it is not the worst thing in the world for a customer to hear.

Related: 10 Must-See Videos on Business, Creativity and Success

How to Tell a Customer No
Learning how to say no isn’t just a necessary skill for support, it’s a necessary skill for life. It may take some practice, but here are a few things to keep in mind.

Realize that “yes” can be selfish. It’s important to acknowledge that there are many folks building products who struggle with the guilt of saying no. The thing to realize is that a misguided “yes” is essentially a selfish gesture towards the rest of your customers.

Bending over backward with new features or building something that is outside of your product’s vision in order to keep a single big customer will lead to a less than stellar product for the majority. “No” can be the most selfless thing you say all day.
“No” sounds better with understanding. Whenever an outcome isn’t in someone’s favor, it’s hard to make it a truly positive situation. But leaving the conversation without providing a reason is like applying for a job and not receiving any feedback: you’d rather just hear the why, even if you didn’t get the position.

Acknowledging the effort the customer put into the request and why you see how it might be useful (if true) is often just the right amount of empathy needed before you explain why it just isn’t a fit for where your team is taking the product.
Give recommendations when appropriate. It’s not uncommon for customers—especially larger customers—to get into an “all-in-one” mindset. Some companies do well building software this way, but they are the exception.

If a customer requests a feature that would bloat your product but would make for a great stand alone product, give a recommendation. We happily recommend fine folks like SproutSocial for providing quick and accurate responses to customer feedback on social media.
Set clear expectations. It is always best to err on the side of caution whenever you get feedback that you might implement. Having a customer follow up every 2 weeks after you’ve lead him or her on is awful for both of you.

If an idea has merit but isn’t on your immediate roadmap, don’t even come close to using the word “soon.” Assure the customer that you’re looking into said feature but that, “At best, it’s quite far out while we work on _____.”
Treat every “No” like the first one of the day. Saying no to so many feature requests can start to affect your empathy toward the customer.

To counteract this, be sure to remind yourself that the customer doesn’t know this is your twelfth no for a certain feature—they are likely getting in touch with you for the first time. It’s your job to make them feel like their contribution, even if it doesn’t get implemented, isn’t just a burden to you: “Really appreciate you taking the time to share these thoughts, Karen!”
Don’t lose your curiosity. Repetition also creates a risk of “seen that before” syndrome. This often results in you giving less and less attention to requests that seem repetitive.

It’s sometimes good, however, to dig into a feature request you’ve turned down before. Why did this person specifically ask for it? Although the default response to a customer question is often “action,” responding with your own questions from time to time can reveal some new insights about a certain feature that you’ve never had before.
Use “No” to Keep Your Competitive Edge
To be clear, let us not forget that product excellence is often defined by meticulous evaluation and execution on evolving customer requirements. Knowing what customers need is what keeps a great product great, hence the ongoing utility of feedback.

You just have to remember that a company’s competitive edge often comes from avoiding the “sameness trap,” or by solving problems in ways that other companies and customers themselves never considered. Searching for the best outcome often requires many no’s, before you can finally say yes.

Mark Cuban has offered some pretty blunt thoughts on this issue:

“Cuban contends that asking customers what they want doesn’t improve a company’s competitive positioning. Customers make comparisons with existing products and services. They rarely offer insights for conceiving innovative solutions to compromises that everyone reluctantly tolerates.”IMG_0220.JPG

up2wellbeing’s PROFILE

Plan-Too business plan

Today’s digital media world means people are active participants in all forms of marketing— not simply passive observers. This is forcing the biggest transformation in advertising in the last 50 years. Business as usual just won’t cut it.
Right from the start, we designed Up2WellBeing to be a “story telling”, not just a consultancy services provider. We express our content through all forms of communication, so when we tell a story, we are also thinking about new communications structures and experiences. 

Our primary role for our clients is to create work that gets talked about— with customers, with staff and in the press. In our experience, getting talked about is the first step in getting results.
Up2Wellbeing Group assists owner-managed business with strategic marketing decisions. Our group of consultants has over 15 years of practical strategic marketing and business planning consulting.
Our clients are experienced managers who require a more efficient and effective approach to increase the market share of their products or services. They tend to be extremely busy and are not always able to properly handle the details involved in developing and implementing a marketing campaign.
Often these companies are undergoing a significant change (launching a new product or entering a new market) and wish to supplement the skills and experience of their current management team.

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Yoga and Running

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The Runner’s Guide to Yoga

A Practical Approach to Building Strength and Flexibility for Better Running

Sage Rountree

Yoga will make you a better runner.

Millions of runners practice yoga daily because it cuts injuries and leads to more fluid, enjoyable running. InThe Runner’s Guide to Yoga, Sage Rountree—America’s leading expert on yoga for athletes—shows you the poses and practices for stronger, healthier running.

Filled with color photographs, clear instruction, and easy-to-follow routines, The Runner’s Guide to Yogaoffers simple ways to make yoga a part of your everyday training, even if you have never set foot in a yoga studio. This practical guide highlights the routines that ease tightness in the hamstrings and hips, strengthen the core, build strength and flexibility throughout your body, and speed recovery from minor injuries.

Rountree highlights over 100 key poses modeled by real runners and includes focused routines as well as key pre- and post-race yoga sequences. The Runner’s Guide to Yoga will complement your running every day, all season long.

Discover how yoga can improve your running with

  • Dynamic warm-ups and cooldowns for your workouts
  • Poses that target typical trouble spots, such as hips, calves, and hamstrings
  • Self-tests to determine areas of weakness or imbalance
  • Breath and meditation exercises to sharpen mental focus