How to Overcome the 4 Fears of Blogging – and Launch!

I previously wrote a post on the 8 Reasons Why You Should Blog. This post is the follow-up.
You may have heard the question, “When is the best time to plant a tree?”  The answer is 100 years ago.  The second best time?  Today!

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

This is the mindset I encourage you to have when considering whether or not you will start your blog. I don’t know if you’ve noticed in your life, but fear will hold you back. I remember the fear I felt when I enlisted in the Marine Corps.  I told my dad before I left that I wanted to go to Parris Island and be the best Marine in my company.  After 10 days on the island, I wrote him a letter.  It told him that I just wanted to survive. Fear holds you back.  It causes you to pause – to hesitate.  Fear can prevent you from doing something great.  Fear is not your friend. You can launch your blog by overcoming these 4 fears.

Overcoming the 4 Fears of Blogging

1.  Who is my audience?

Good question.  Who is your audience?  It isn’t going to be the same as mine – or anyone else’s.  Ask yourself who your ideal client or prospect is.  That is the who you are writing to.  Frankly, I need to remind myself more about this. I was listening to an interview a couple of weeks ago.  The topic was profiling your ideal client or customer.  Do you know how they think?  Do you know their buying habits?  What they like?  How much money they make?  Single or married? Go through an exercise of  answering all of these questions.  Once you are done, name your ideal client.  I call mine Bob.  Now write to Bob. Clarity on this question will allow you to push through the fear.

2.  How do I set it up?

This is really what help me back from starting.  How do I do it?  There are so many blogging platforms.  How will you choose?  I’m going to make this super easier for you, and I’m going to tell you what to do.

    1. Use the wordpress.org platform – Many platforms exist, but this is the one the pro’s use.  It is what I use.  It is the absolute bomb.  It is free.  The absolute best resource to learn how to use WordPress is – http://www.wp101.com/.  It will have you rolling in no-time.
    2. Pick a web host – This is not free, but it is cheap.  There are even more of these to choose from.  Use Bluehost (affiliate link), and here is why.
      • Their support is awesome!  My site got hacked, and they helped me get it back up in no time.  And I don’t have a clue how to do this website stuff.  They have helped me at 2 in the morning.  And they speak great English.
      • In my one year with them, I’ve never had an outage.
      • They don’t allow porn.  This may not be a big deal to you, but it is to me.  And as they generally use shared serves, I love the idea that my site doesn’t “live” next to that stuff.  I love that.
    3. Pick a premium theme – If you are going to do this, then make it look excellent.  A premium them will look like a million bucks.  These can cost anywhere from $50 – $200, but it is a one time fee.  The look of your site augments your brand, so don’t go cheap on me here.  Here are some choices for you to cut through the clutter.
      • Woo Themes – I’ve never used these, but I’ve heard many recommend them.  They have many to choose from, and it will cost you about $100.
      • Standard Theme – I have used this theme and was a big fan.  It will run you $39.  And brokers are cheap, so I might suggest you start here.
      • Elegant Themes – You can get access to all 86 of their themes for just $39, and they are beautiful.  I do think they are on the feminine side, but that’s just me.
      • Get Noticed Theme - This is the one I use.  It is on the expensive side for themes ($197), but I love it.  If you are starting, you may wait until you know you will do this for the long haul before you spend this kind of jack.
    4. Watch this screencast – This is the best tutorial I’ve seen on how to put all of this together.  You can be up and writing your first post in 20 minutes – literally.  Just watch this video and follow along.  This is exactly how I did it.

3.  What do I write about?

This is a post all unto itself, and I will write it soon.  But take it from me, this is so much easier than I thought.  Once you have an outlet for your thoughts, it is like you start thinking differently.  I see potential blog posts in just about everything.  I even have friends that feed me ideas now (thanks David!). I do have a brainstorming exercise that I use to generate post ideas.  I will share this in a subsequent post.  But for now, don’t let this stop you from starting.

4.  How do I find the time?

You have the time.  In fact, you have the same 168 hours a week that everyone else does.  You will spend those hours exactly how you choose to. Personally, I watch less TV.  It may be something different for you that has to go.  I encourage you to consider what you are doing during your non-productive hours.  Those hours when you aren’t producing. When I struggle with this area, I reconnect with my why.  I remind myself about the many benefits of blogging – how this site can go before me and grease the wheels of the sales process.  Connect with your why, and it will drive away the fear.  

Question: So what is holding you back from launching your blog? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Hug a Neck this Memorial Day

I come from a legacy of men who have served.  I don’t take that lightly this Memorial Day.  My grandfathers were both in World War II.  My father was in the Army towards the end of the Vietnam Conflict.  One of my brother’s is currently a Marine Corps pilot of a CH-53 deployed in Afghanistan.  His wife, along with the rest of us, eagerly await his return.

My dad and my granddad pinning my brother during his commissioning.

My dad and my granddad pinning my brother during his commissioning.

I want to share a little about my grandfathers.

My dad’s dad was a metallurgical engineer and served in the Army.  During the war, he got to do two really incredible things, in my humble opinion.  The first was to travel to Russia to study their tanks.  The second was to be one of the first men to work in the Pentagon – when it was just a line!  Only the first wing had been built at that point.  He retired a Lt. Col.

My granddad with my son and my siblings.

My granddad with my son and my siblings.

My mom’s dad was a Morse Code operator for the Army.  When I was in high school, his unit’s exploits were declassified.  What he did was amazing.  His unit was responsible for diverting Nazi attention from the D-Day invasion.

They used cardboard tanks and mis-information to cause Germany to believe the invasion would be at another location.  I remember my granddad, in one of the few times he shared with me about the war, telling me how his unit would sew different patches on their uniforms every night.  The hope was that Nazi Germany would believe they were a force much bigger than they were.

Their efforts worked.  As D-Day dawned, a significant portion of the German force was diverted away from Normandy.  My granddad, however, was transferred at the last-minute to Omaha Beach.  He was one of the heroes that broke the German hold that day and turned the tide of the war.

More recently, a fellow Kentucky Marine distinguished himself in Afghanistan and won the Congressional Medal of Honor.  His acts of bravery have characterized our fighting men and women for generations.  Here is the Medal of Honor citation of Sergeant Dakota Meyer.

Citation: Corporal Meyer maintained security at a patrol rally point while other members of his team moved on foot with two platoons of Afghan National Army and Border Police into the village of Ganjgal for a pre-dawn meeting with village elders. Moving into the village, the patrol was ambushed by more than 50 enemy fighters firing rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, and machine guns from houses and fortified positions on the slopes above. Hearing over the radio that four U.S. team members were cut off, Corporal Meyer seized the initiative. With a fellow Marine driving, Corporal Meyer took the exposed gunner’s position in a gun-truck as they drove down the steeply terraced terrain in a daring attempt to disrupt the enemy attack and locate the trapped U.S. team. Disregarding intense enemy fire now concentrated on their lone vehicle, Corporal Meyer killed a number of enemy fighters with the mounted machine guns and his rifle, some at near point-blank range, as he and his driver made three solo trips into the ambush area. During the first two trips, he and his driver evacuated two dozen Afghan soldiers, many of whom were wounded. When one machine gun became inoperable, he directed a return to the rally point to switch to another gun-truck for a third trip into the ambush area where his accurate fire directly supported the remaining U.S. personnel and Afghan soldiers fighting their way out of the ambush. Despite a shrapnel wound to his arm, Corporal Meyer made two more trips into the ambush area in a third gun-truck accompanied by four other Afghan vehicles to recover more wounded Afghan soldiers and search for the missing U.S. team members. Still under heavy enemy fire, he dismounted the vehicle on the fifth trip and moved on foot to locate and recover the bodies of his team members. Corporal Meyer’s daring initiative and bold fighting spirit throughout the 6-hour battle significantly disrupted the enemy’s attack and inspired the members of the combined force to fight on. His unwavering courage and steadfast devotion to his U.S. and Afghan comrades in the face of almost certain death reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Fortunately, my grandfathers and Sergeant Meyer lived.  Many others throughout the years have not.  These fearless men and women laid down their lives for our way of life.  Their sacrifices allow me to live a life of safety and freedom.  They allow me to worship without fear.  They allow me to work hard and provide for my family.  They allow me to spend a Sunday afternoon, as I did yesterday, playing basketball with my boys in the driveway.

My brother and I shaking the hand of my grandfather.

My brother and I shaking the hand of my grandfather.

I am indebted to all those who have served, and so are you.  So on this memorial day, spend some time counting your blessings.  Then go find someone who has or is serving and hug their neck.  We act like the honor of serving is thanks enough, but we really appreciate it.

I also challenge you to share in the comments section below who you are remembering this day.  Let’s not take for granted all that was given for us to live the lives we now enjoy.

5 Reasons to Develop Decisiveness by Using the 70% Rule

I am naturally a perfectionist.  If my parents read this, they may disagree.  They will remember me leaving potential on the table.  I was the poster child for procrastination.  The truth is perfectionism is the mother of procrastination.

Decisions

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.comjoste_dj

I remember one semester of college at Murray State University.  I decided that I would not procrastinate any longer.  I purposed to work ahead in all my classes — finish assignments early.  I remember going to the library to work on a paper that was due weeks in the future.  I found that I could not focus my thoughts.  The possibilities of what direction I could go and how perfect the paper could be were overwhelming.  I needed the pressure of the last minute to focus my thoughts and force me to action.  I am the classic Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim…………….Fire!

My father is not this way.  While he gathers information, he is naturally decisive and instinctive.  I would characterize him as Fire, Ready, Aim.  If you can’t tell, we work very well together.

In business and life, there is a great tension between impulsiveness (foolishness) and perfectionism (procrastination).  Leaders are decisive.  In fact, decisiveness is one of the 14 Leadership Traits of the Marine Corps that I wrote about recently — read more here.  Additionally, decisive leaders reject perfectionism.  They understand that it is an elusive fallacy.  Your business should have a goal of success, growth, and excellence — not perfection.  There is a difference.

So how does a leader manage this tension between impulsiveness and perfectionism?  The Marine Corps taught me the 70% Rule.  It says that you take action on any decision when you have 70% confidence in the success of the decision.  That statement just made some of you uncomfortable.  Here are 5 reasons you should consider implementing this rule in your business.

  1. Reality – Decisions are made in time.  Sometimes it must be made very quickly.  You also have competition.  They are also trying to succeed.  They are also trying to beat you.  Being decisive while not impulsive can be learned.  Rejecting perfectionism frees you up to execute with speed.
  2. Speed – Speed is better than perfection.  A good solution executed quickly will have a higher probability of success than a great solution executed too late.  Speed puts you on the offensive.  It allows you to set the pace of innovation and service.  This also means that it puts your competition on the defensive forcing them to react.  He who sets the pace gains the advantage.
  3. Growth – Speaking of mistakes, you will make them too.  Understand that you will and prepare.  Don’t waste your mistakes — learn from them.  The key to learning from your mistakes is debriefing after decisions are made.  What went wrong?  Why did we fail?  Why did we succeed?  What could we have done better?  How could I have done that presentation better?  If you do not pause and reflect, you will waste the benefits of your mistakes.  You will not grow as a leader.  You will not develop better decision-making skills.  You will repeat the mistakes.
  4. Success – Wayne Gretzky said that, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  This is obvious but so important.  Being decisive with 70% confidence will lead to more success than hesitating due to lack of confidence or information.  As you grow from experience and learning from your mistakes, your success rate will improve.  Over time, this growth can allow you to reach your potential.  Perfectionist straddled by procrastination never reach their potential — never.
  5. Prevents Impulsiveness – Colin Powell is a proponent of the 70% Rule.  He also stated that 40% confidence requires more information gathering and planning.  Going with your gut is often a bad idea.  The 70% Rule acts as a guard-rail for the impulsive who Fire before they make Ready and Aim.

I invite you to share your thoughts below.  Are you a perfectionist?  How would the 70% Rule change how you do business?

Why the Biggest Problem with Your Business is You

I hope that you have a mentor.  I have been blessed to have a number of men in my life that have fulfilled this role for me.  You can learn so much from mistakes and experience.  You can also learn from the mistakes and experiences of others.  I prefer the latter.

Having problem concept

A couple of years ago I was having lunch with one of my mentors.  This guy has been wildly successful.  He owns numerous businesses.  He has a great marriage – great family.  Like my dad, he is someone I want to emulate.  I was peppering him with questions.  He told me a story that surprised me.

Years ago, he had somewhat plateaued in his businesses.  He was working too much.  Progress was not being made.  He felt like he had hit a brick wall that he couldn’t break through.  He had a conversation with a mentor of his and asked him what he was doing wrong.  The mentor replied, “The problem with your businesses is you.”

Sobering statement.  My mentor was initially angry.  How could he be the problem?  No one worked harder than him!  He was the leader of these businesses.

I think that every entrepreneur reaches this point.  Characteristics like passion, vision, integrity, hard work, and others are what lead to initial success.  After a while though, the entrepreneur or leader of a business becomes the log-jam.  Nothing gets done with his/her touch. John Maxwell calls this the Law of the Lid.  The business cannot grow past the leadership ability of the leader.  The entrepreneur ends up being his own biggest problem.

At this point, two options exist:  enjoy the plateau or learn to replicate yourself in your business.  In other words, learn to delegate.

I am going to assume that you chose the second option.  The best organization at delegation and reproduction is the Marine Corps.  The Marines regularly take 18-year-old kids and turn them into the best fighting force on the planet.  While you might think that the Marine Corps has a very traditional hierarchical system, it is actually very decentralized.  Twenty year old corporals on the front lines have the training and ability to make decisions on the fly.  Here is how they do it.

Commander’s Intent

I want to acknowledge up front that the Military in general is not good at communicating the “why.”  I rarely knew the big picture.  I suggest that you run your business with the “why” constantly out in front of your team members.

That said, the commander’s intent is the “what.”  This is the directive that comes from on high that says take that hill.  The Commander does not come and tell anyone how to do.  He simply gives the directive.

We recently built a database of all the Dollar Stores in Kentucky.  I gave the directive to my executive assistant to find me the location, physical data, owner, and contact information on every store.  She had the training and tools to accomplish this.  She did not need me hawking and micro-managing.

Rules of Engagement

Remember in the movie Top Gun when Maverick and Goose were in the dog fight with the fictitious MIG-28 at the beginning of the movie?  Their Commander kept telling them “Do not fire unless fired upon!”  (You can see the cigar in his hand, can’t you?)

Rules of engagement tell you what you can and can’t do.  This is where delegation really works.  The best kinds of rules for a team member are the ones that explain what is not acceptable.  In other words, if you can define the boundaries of what is not OK, then everything in that box is OK.

Now your team members have the “Commander’s Intent” or the task to accomplish, and they understand the boundaries.  Within those boundaries, they are free to accomplish the task with great creativity and resourcefulness – and without you staring over their shoulder all the time.

How would these principles of delegation impact the team that you lead?  Are you the lid on your business?  I invite you to share with us in the comments how you could implement these principles in your business.

Top Posts for November – And The Dollar Shave Club!

In case you missed them, here are the top posts from November.  I have also added a bonus Saturday post at the bottom that is guaranteed to improve your daily life – if you shave.  Be sure to check it out at the bottom!

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The 17 Rules of Email Etiquette – My biggest beef with email is its ability to interrupt me.  The nature of my business requires me to be doing multiple things.  I am not a natural multi-tasker.  I much prefer to hone in on a task and focus all my energy on it.  I rarely get to do this.  I am also easily distracted.  The ding and notification that announces every email can cost me 5 – 60 minutes  Read More…

The Difference Between Top Producers and the Others – How many times have you heard brokers complain about how the market has sunk their business?  Maybe I’m talking about you?  You have heard the cliché, “a rising tide lifts all ships.”  The reverse of that would be, “a sinking tide sinks all ships.”  That seems to be the mantra of the CRE industry of the last four years.  Read More…

How the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits Apply to Your Business – Part 1 – Today, I was organizing my closet.  Hanging there next to my ties and dress shirts were my old Marine Corps uniforms.  They caused me to think back 8+ years to my former life.  So much of my life now is influenced by my enlisted years.  Just as the old meets the new in my closet, so much of the USMC leadership traits apply to running a business.  Read More…

How the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits Apply to Your Business – Part 2 - I was born with bearing.  God just knitted this one into my personality.  When I was a PFC (private first class), I had duty for the first time.  This meant that I stayed up all night manning a post in the barracks.  I was part of a 3-man team.  This was my first time “on-duty,” and I made a mistake…  Read More…

How to Turn Failure into Motivation – You will experience failures in your personal and professional lives.  It should not be the failed goal that defines the experience but the way that we respond to the failure.  Consider reflecting on these questions…  Read More…

My Salute to Our Fighting Men and Women this Veteran’s Day – Today is Veteran’s Day.  Today is the day that we remember and honor all the men and women who sacrificed.  They sacrificed years. Some sacrifices limbs.  Many sacrificed their lives – for you and me.  We understand freedoms not known by most throughout history.  My brother, who is a Marine Aviator, is this day protecting the freedoms of Americans to burn the flag or hate our country.  That is sacrifice.…  Read More…

Bonus Post

I remember when I was in college, I would shave every 3 to 4 days.  There was two reasons for this:  every guy hates shaving, and I was lazy.  Then I enlisted in the Marine Corps.  They require a clean-shaven face every morning.  It is called “scraping your grape.”

Five years of “scraping my grape” every day has two unfortunate consequences.  The first is that I now prefer the shaven face.  The second, and worse, is that my wife now can’t live with my scrubby face anymore.

Since I have resigned myself to shaving every day for the rest of my life, I now hate the razor racquet.  I can buy the razor handle for pennies, but the razors cost a fortune.  I’m in a bad mood every time I have to buy razors.  And since I have to pay so much for them, I use them longer than I should.  This causes me to hate shaving even more.  This is a vicious spiral.

Enter the Dollar Shave Club!

This is the coolest idea I’ve seen in a long time.  Additionally, this video is genius and hilarious – though unfortunately more raw than it needs to be.  Regardless, enjoy the video.

So here is how it works.  You sign up for one of the 3 levels of razors.  They send you every month the razors you need – automatically.  This rocks for the following reasons:

  • The razors are comparable to the Gillette Fusion I used before.
  • The price of the razors are way less.
  • You no longer have the negative experience of actually purchasing over-priced razors from the store – the razors are shipped to your door!
  • You don’t have to stretch the use of each razor.  This improves your overall experience.

In a word, the Dollar Shave Club rocks!  Sometimes it is the simple things in life.  This is one of those things.  Do yourself a favor and check them out.  And have a great weekend!

My Salute to Our Fighting Men and Women this Veteran’s Day

I was the student that you hated in high school.  I can take no credit for it, but God gave me a mind that learns quickly and remembers.  I would do my homework the period before it was due.  I would pay attention in class, review my notes the night before a test – and make A’s.

I’m giving my little brother his first salute during his commissioning ceremony.

Then I got to college.  Because of my cognitive advantages, I never developed study habits.  I was lazy.  I relied on my natural ability and did not work to develop those strengths.  In 4 years at Murray State University, I dropped 14 classes, had a 2.3 GPA, and lacked a full year to graduate.  I had no clue of what I wanted to do or be.  My parents were disappointed in me.  I was actually a disappointment to myself in every aspect of my life.

I remember waking up one morning having fallen asleep on my couch.  The TV was on.  I started to reflect on who I had become.  I had no direction.  The only thing that I had clarity about was that I was a shell of who I knew that I should be.  Then an Army Reserve commercial came on TV.  I began thinking of all of the men in my life that I held the utmost respect for.

I thought about my dad.  My dad is a man on impeccable integrity.  He has rock-solid character oozing out of his pores.  He lives his life based on principles.  He is a business owner.  I provider for his family.  I lover of his wife.  An A+ father for his six children.  He was in the Army for 7 years.  I could see the discipline in his life and began to make a connection.

My dad, brothers, and I giving the “eyebrow.”

I thought of my grandfathers.  Both served in the Army in World War II.  My Granddad Barron was one of the first people to work in the Pentagon when it was just a Line (only one wing had been built.)  My other grandfather was responsible for diverting many of the German forces away from the D-Day invasion.  He then rushed on Omaha Beach.  These are men of courage, character, discipline, and integrity.

My grandfather

As I thought through all these men who I wished I was like, their military background was a common theme.  I need a kick in the rear end. I went to visit the recruiters looking for the biggest boot.

Note:  My story takes a serious USMC turn here.  My apologies for my ingrained biases.

In my town, all the recruiting offices were in the same strip mall.  I started with the Air Force.  After speaking with the recruiter for 30 minutes, it was clear that they were not what I was looking for.  I skipped the Navy because I was not going to wear those uniforms.  When I got to the Army office, they shared with me all the benefits of being a soldier:  become a man, learn discipline, serve your country.  They promised me a sizable signing bonus, to repay college loans (that I didn’t have), etc.  I was impressed and interested.

Lastly, I walked into the Marine office.  I recapped for Sgt. Tate my previous 3 hours.  I shared with him how I was not interested in the Air Force.  I relayed to him all the things the Army would give me.  I asked him, “What does the Marine Corps have to offer me?”  He then said the words that would change my life.  He answered, “I don’t have anything for you, son.  I wonder if you have the metal to be in my Marine Corps.”  I had found my boot, and I have never been the same.

Today is Veteran’s Day.  Today is the day that we remember and honor all the men and women who sacrificed.  They sacrificed years. Some sacrifices limbs.  Many sacrificed their lives – for you and me.  We understand freedoms not known by most throughout history.  My brother, who is a Marine Aviator, is this day protecting the freedoms of Americans to burn the flag or hate our country.  That is sacrifice.

Capt. “Little Bro”

So on this Veterans’s Day, I honor all the men and women who made my life possible.  I have the privilege of loving my wife and family in freedom.  I have the right to worship my God.  I have the liberty to work hard and find success.  On this day, I honor my dad, grandfathers, and my little brother.

Sleep well America.  Your best men and women are keeping you safe!

How the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits Apply to Your Business – Part 2

This is part two of a 2-part post on the 14 leadership traits of the Marine Corps, and how they can apply to your business.  You can find Part 1 here.

I was born with bearing.  God just knitted this one into my personality.  When I was a PFC (private first class), I had duty for the first time.  This meant that I stayed up all night manning a post in the barracks.  I was part of a 3-man team.  This was my first time “on-duty,” and I made a mistake.
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I let a female Marine into her boyfriend’s room allowing her to catch him with another woman.  Chaos ensued, and first thing Monday morning, I was in front of the Company Gunny at the POA (position of attention).  I would classify that butt-chewing in the epic category.  Yet I stood there unflinching.
That Gunny loved me from there on out.  For the next year, he would pull me in his office, shut the door, and have me take a seat.  He would then give me a tongue lashing while smiling at me.  He believed this tactic struck fear into the other students at that school.
Here are the final 7 leadership traits of which one is bearing.

The 14 Leadership Traits of the Marine Corps – Part 2

8.  Endurance – I love this quote from Marine.com regarding endurance.  “It is impossible to lead from the front when you are falling behind.”  Endurance is seeing things through to the end.  In the context of battle, endurance refers to a mental and physical willingness to press on – beyond what is believed possible.  In your business and mine, endurance is not only going the extra mile, but convincing your team to do the same.  Does your company typify going the extra mile?
9.  Bearing – Bearing is the ability to keep your cool – and professionalism – in the face of extreme stress.  Bearing in business is the ability to take a tongue lashing from a client, say thank you, and continue to work towards the client’s best interest.  That is true professionalism, and I hope it describes you!
10.  Unselfishness – The trait of unselfishness describes the team-first ethos of the Corps.  It is a part of the DNA of Marines to put the warrior to the right and left above himself.  In business, this looks like servant leadership and client-first decision-making.  Servant leadership is the idea the leader serves the team trying to make them successful.  In so doing, the leader succeeds.  Client-first decision-making is when the client’s interests always win out.  This is a huge problem due to the opaque nature of Commercial Real Estate.  Brokers often serve their own interests over their clients.  What about your company?
11.  Courage – When you think of courage, you often think of Maximus in the movie Gladiator or William Wallace in Braveheart.  These characters showed courage on the battlefield.  Courage is much more that this, however.  Courage is having the fortitude to do the right thing when there will be adverse consequences.  The easy path rarely has a sign that says, “The Right Thing for the Right Reasons.”  Only the person with moral courage will travel that path.  Will you?
12.  Knowledge – Knowledge is about personal growth – consistent daily growth.  Know more than you did yesterday.  Have a better grasp on your market.  Know who owns that building – and that one.  “Without knowledge, judgment is reduced to intuition; decision-making becomes nothing more than a guess.”  Are you guessing?
13.  Loyalty – Loyalty is an unyielding commitment to others.  In the Corps, this is mostly felt towards the Marines in your fire-team, squad, or platoon.  In the eight years I’ve been back in the civilian world, this is the trait I see lacking the most.  Companies are not loyal to their employees.  Employees will take a better offer without batting an eye.  Fathers bail on their families.  The world needs more loyalty.  Why don’t you let it start with you?
14.  Enthusiasm – Passion!  I believe that God created us all with a unique skill set and purpose.  I do not believe that we can do anything that we put our minds to.  I believe that we can truly excel when we find our sweet spot.  That is where passion explodes.  I remember in boot camp being able to pick out the recruits that I thought would be career Marines.  They had found their sweet-spot, and they knew it.
So there are the 14 leadership traits of the Marine Corps.  I challenge you to evaluate your business in light of these time-tested principles.
What other leadership traits would you add to this list?

How the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits Apply to Your Business – Part 1

Last week marked the eight year anniversary of my honorable discharge from the Marine Corps.  It also marked the eight year anniversary of the start of my career in Commercial Real Estate.

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My family also moved into a new home last week.  It has been a while since we last moved.  I feel like a bomb exploded in my new home.  The important thing, however, is that my wife and I are both parking in the garage!

Today, I was organizing my closet.  Hanging there next to my ties and dress shirts were my old Marine Corps uniforms.  They caused me to think back 8+ years to my former life.  So much of my life now is influenced by my enlisted years.  Just as the old meets the new in my closet, so much of the USMC leadership traits apply to running a business.

There are 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits.  You can remember them by the acronym JJ DID TIE BUCKLE:  justice, judgment, decisiveness, integrity, dependability, tact, initiative, endurance, bearing, unselfishness, courage, knowledge, loyalty, and enthusiasm.

How the 14 Marine Corps Leadership Traits Apply to You – and Me

  1. Justice – Think firm but fair.  Everyone in your organization needs to know that the rules apply across the board.  Massey-Knakal, the number one CRE firm in New York City, is a great example of this.  Everyone has the same split.  Remember Barry Bonds as a San Francisco Giant?  He had a special recliner – a special trainer.  The rules did not apply to him.  The rules and expectations must apply justly to everyone.  The alternative is a crumbling organization.  How do you rate your organization?
  2. Judgment – Judgment is the ability to quickly make good decisions under duress.  Everything in our experience is speeding up.  You must have the ability to make good decisions with available and incomplete information.  You will make the wrong call, but can you own it and lead through it?
  3. Decisiveness – The Marine Corps operates on the 70% rule.  This states that decisive action based on 70% information is better than a slow decision based on complete information.  Complete information, in my opinion, is a fallacy.  It never happens.  Speed kills.  Your ability to out outmaneuver and out-flank your competition is dependent upon you being decisive and fast.  I just hired a landscaper for the sole reason that he got back to me much quicker than his competition.  Can this be said of your business?
  4. Integrity – My mentor was lamenting recently that integrity has come to mean that people do what they say.  Is that not sad?  Integrity is so much more than doing what you say.  Integrity is absolute consistency – whether all eyes are on you or not.  Integrity is the bedrock of a person’s character.  It is what earns the respect of your team members and peers.  Does this describe you?
  5. Dependability – I read somewhere that, “Marines develop solutions – not excuses!”  This perfectly defines dependability.  Can your clients depend on you to do what you were hired to do?  Can your team members depend on you to be prepared and ready to exceed expectations on a task?  I hear Dave Ramsey say all the time that a contractor who shows up on-time, every time, will never lack for work.  How dependable would your clients say you are?
  6. Tact – Marines are misunderstood when it comes to tact.  Tact is delivering a message in an appropriate way.  In other words, how a message is communicated is as important as the message itself.  My father-in-law was an outstanding coach.  He had tremendous tact and the ability to read his players.  He had players who responded to positive encouragement.  He also had players who responded to a boot up the rear-end.  He communicated with them accordingly.  What about your clients?  Do you pay enough attention to do the same?
  7. Initiative – Someone with initiative never needs to be told what to do.  Initiative is always looking for ways to improve – customer-service, internal systems, etc.  In my opinion, initiative is the single most effective way to get promoted – or get hired.  Couple initiative with the practice of giving value upfront for free – unstoppable combination!  Is initiative a core part of your company’s DNA?

Let me hear from you.  Of these first 7 traits, which one describes your leadership the best?  Which one could use the most improvement?