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A Learning Organization

By | Culture, Teaching, Uncategorized | No Comments

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A Definition

A learning organization is the term given to a company that facilitates the learning of its members and continuously transforms itself. Learning organizations develop as a result of the pressures facing the modern business world, but learning enables them to remain competitive.

What are the key tenants of a true learning organization and culture? How can you facilitate a culture of learning throughout your organization? What are the benefits of creating a culture of ongoing personal development and learning?

The Key Tenants

A learning organization will consistently display the following characteristics within their work groups:

  1. A shared vision that serves to inform and inspire team members
  2. A genuine culture of learning that is encouraged and supported by leadership
  3. A commitment by all team members to pursue and achieve mastery within their departments and individual roles
  4. A belief system that promotes ongoing learning as a value within the company
  5. A desire to continually improve all organizational processes and systems

 

A Culture of Learning

  1. Learning must be supported by a commitment to ongoing training that prepares team members for success within their current roles.
  2. Learning systems that make educational opportunities accessible to all team members must be created and implemented.
  3. Leaders must encourage, inspire, and incentivize team members to further their education.
  4. Team members who exhibit the personal initiative to grow through ongoing education and learning should receive praise.
  5. Senior leaders must lead the way by personally participating in ongoing learning initiatives. Leading by example will support a culture of learning.

 

Benefits of a Learning Culture

  1. An organization that invests in the ongoing education of all team members has a competitive advantage when competing for future talent.
  2. An organization that supports ongoing education has a greater opportunity to retain their current talent than an organization that doesn’t make the same commitment.
  3. An organization that expands the knowledge, improves the attitudes, develops the skills, and works with team members to create winning habits will experience success at a higher level.
  4. An organization that has a learning culture will be able to create a talent pipeline to assist in succession planning.
  5. An organization that truly develops a learning culture will ultimately provide a better customer experience by educating their team members to be the best at what they do on a consistent basis.

The Truth

We have never been in a more competitive business environment than we are today. As organizations create more efficient economic business models, the need for better trained people has intensified. We must improve every day, or we will fall behind companies who are accelerating their learning speed.

If we stand pat and refuse to create a rapid learning model, we will be threatening our growth opportunities.

 

What Must Happen?

  1. We must encourage open and candid opportunities for internal collaboration.
  2. We must seek the input and ideas of team members as a means of learning more rapidly if we wish to achieve a real competitive advantage.
  3. We must develop a customer responsive model where we can respond quickly and efficiently to changing demands as dictated by our customers.
  4. We need to continue to develop more knowledge about our products and the products of our competitors in order to be able to share our unique value proposition as it compares.
  5. We must stay in solution-mode at all times and continually seek out learning opportunities that will enhance our ability to provide real solutions in real time to our existing and potential customers.

In Closing

Education is the best investment you will ever make because it directly and positively impacts your most valuable asset: your people. Education provides an ongoing return on your investment as you pay once to learn a skill, but it pays you back over and over as you apply the new skill over the course of a career.

There is no downside to developing a culture of learning. Better trained people will lead you to more positive results in every area of your business. I believe these five impact points validate why it is so critical for you to build a real learning organization:

Five Areas of Impact:

  • Talent Retention
  • Improved Customer Experience
  • Employer of Choice
  • Improved Financial Results
  • Enhances Reputation

I hope this article in someway inspires you to look at your current culture as it relates to education and learning. Once you make the shift to becoming a fully committed learning organization, it is a decision you will never regret.

Make a difference today.

Your Source of Energy

By | Attitude, Motivational, Uncategorized, Wisdom | No Comments

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I woke up today thinking about the amount of energy required for sustainable success. If you think about it, we all have the ability to create energy in our own unique way. There are some common activities we can pursue that will bring us energy from a physical and mental perspective:

  1. Physical exercise produces physical energy and mental clarity.
  2. Reading, meditation, and visualization will produce mental energy.

Secret Recipe

I am speaking of something unique to you and you alone. I believe we all have our own energy formula, our own energy drink or juice so to speak. The ingredients are known only to us. It’s like the well-guarded family recipe no one ever shares.

However, a recipe is only good when you prepare the meal. The same is true about the secret recipe of your “juice” that energizes your soul.

Your Sockets

Another way to think about the source of your energy is electricity. What sockets are you plugging into in order to draw inspiration and gain energy? I have been inspired by many things over the course of my life, and I believe what inspires you also energizes you. For me, staying plugged into my sources of inspiration allow me to stay plugged into my source of energy. The choices you make about what you decide to plug into daily is 100% within your control. For me, there are numerous sockets and ingredients in my secret recipe. Here’s my list:

  • Preparing and sharing meals with family
  • Painting a new canvas
  • Recording a new education series
  • Writing daily
  • Live musical performances
  • Theatrical performances
  • Working with youth
  • All things LSU football
  • Any time on the water
  • Every second with my parents
  • Every second with my kids and grandkids
  • Festivals in Louisiana
  • Interior design
  • Fishing anytime
  • Any sunrise
  • Travel
  • How about you?

Make the time to make your list just like the one above. Think through your list and make certain each ingredient inspires and energizes you in some way. Once you have your list completed, the big task is ahead of you. Get out your planner or diary for the last 90 days and calculate how much time you actually spent doing things on your list.

You will be surprised either pleasantly or not so much. The good news is there is an easy fix because you have the ability to control how many times and in how many ways you plug into your power sources for inspiration and energy. I hope you will make your list and take action today and every day. There is nothing better than mixing up your own special “juice” concoction and getting high on the amazing and powerful after-effects of leading an energized life of intention and purpose.

Make a difference today. 

What I Learned from Coach

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AAEAAQAAAAAAAAcmAAAAJDc1Mjk3NjYxLTZkYzktNGYyMy1hNTA3LWVkNDk3YzYwMTdjOAYears ago, I had the opportunity to get to know an incredible man, Dale Brown, the legendary head basketball coach of the LSU Tigers. To say this man impacted my life would be an understatement of the highest degree. If you ever doubt his impact on people, just Google search his story and read comments from his former players, especially Shaquille O’Neal.

For instance, Shaq has been quoted as saying:

“His thing was – go to class, get your education. I wanted to test his theory out, so one day I didn’t go to class. About 4:30 the next morning, I felt the hand of God on my chest. I looked up, and it was Dale Brown. I still don’t know how he got in my room, but he did. Then he ran me from about 4:30 to 7:30 – and then I had to go to class. I said, ‘You know what? I’ll never miss class again.'” (Quotes from this article by Jennifer Hale, Fox Sports.)

Coach Brown and I spoke together at a motivational event our company promoted in St. Louis 23 years ago. It was such a special evening for everyone in attendance as Coach Brown shared his philosophies on life and winning. It was deeply personal and delivered with incredible passion.

Personal Time

The best part of the event for me was introducing coach to my sons, Chris and Ryan. I will always cherish the way he treated my boys. He shared stories with them and told them all about coaching Shaq. He stressed to them that the only thing bigger than Shaq’s talent was his work ethic and character. He talked about his commitment to education and also predicted correctly the type of career Shaq would have in the NBA.

All of this proved to be true, especially the part about Shaq’s commitment to education. Shaq has earned his Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees at LSU. Coach Brown certainly knew his player. Thirty years after they first met, Coach Brown and Shaq still share an amazing bond and endearing friendship based on mutual trust and respect.

Two Years Go By

I was sitting at my home in St. Louis when the phone rang, and to my shock it was Coach Brown. He was in town for the Sweet 16 and asked if Chris, Ryan, and I would like to join him for the tournament. What a thrill this would be for me and my boys! We had such a great time, and again he made every moment special for the boys. Coach knew my wife, Barbara, had been diagnosed with MS, and this was his humble way of bringing some joy to my boys. What a great act of kindness.

The Story

Coach Brown had every reason not to be one of the most recognized coaches in college basketball. His life was not easy as a young man. In fact, it was packed with hardship and tough times.

When Brown was a child, his father abandoned their family. They had to move into a one-room apartment over a hardware store. His mother only had an eighth grade education and was left to provide for her family on her own.

Brown didn’t let his circumstances slow him down. He was a great athlete in high school and college, and went on to eventually replace Pete Maravich’s father Press Maravich as the LSU men’s basketball coach in 1972.

Coach Brown never let the early obstacles in his life become permanent. He turned his stopping stones into stepping stones to a bright future. He put LSU basketball on the map and turned it into a nationally recognized program. He had this incredible ability to convince young men to play above their capabilities.

I spent many incredible moments in the Maravich Assembly Center watching him coach many great teams and players. I remember his surprising runs to the Final Four with teams no one expected to get there. What exciting times they were for those of us privileged enough to watch him coach at LSU.

This post is a way of saying to Coach Brown, “Thanks for the kindness you showed my family. Thanks for the lessons on life you shared with us. Thanks for the evidence your life has provided that you can be tough, fair, compassionate and operate with integrity and win.”

Recent News

At the NBA’s recent All-Star weekend, Coach Brown was recognized with three prestigious awards. These included the Jerry Colangelo award honoring the person who best exhibits character, leadership, and faith in the world of basketball and in the community. I was so happy for Coach Brown. It should come as no surprise who was selected to present the awards to Coach Brown – it was Shaq.

Make a difference today!

Legacy or Currency

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I believe people who view their business as an opportunity to create “currency” will always be running sprints to hit monetary targets. If you can shift your paradigm and think “legacy,” you will be running the all-important marathon. Why a marathon? To create a legacy business, you must have a long-term goal to expand the lifetime value of every customer you interact with daily.

Think Depth

Instead of chasing the elusive massive audience, create the critically important genuine relationship with your customers. How can you add value to their world on a consistent basis? It takes effort to view our business from a legacy perspective versus the currency model. You need to build and create relationships of depth with your customers.

“How you think about your customers influences how you respond to them.” – Marilyn Suttle

Care Still Matters

I believe your ability to demonstrate genuine care to a customer is more important today than it has ever been. The marketplace floods consumers with endless tweets, boastful claims, posts with no value, and salespeople are failing miserably to tell engaging stories. You must shift your approach and make it crystal clear that you actually care about who they are and what they need. You can only show them you care if you actually, genuinely care. Authenticity is essential. How will you strive to accomplish this dynamic shift and make a visible impact on your customer’s opinion of you and your organization?

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.” – Mahatma Gandhi

One to One

In today’s fast-paced world, it may seem impossible on the surface for you to truly engage with your customers on a one-to-one basis. However, it is actually easier because of all the technology tools at our disposal today. Technology provides a powerful opportunity to create and share content that will assist and impact our audience. How are you building massive value with your customers? What’s your approach, and how much time do you invest in the process of creating a real one-to-one relationship with your customers?

If You Don’t Know

So many times I hear this statement, “I don’t know anything about SnapChat, Instagram, Vine, Twitter, etc…Paul that’s a young person’s game.” That is a lame excuse, and the solution is simple: anything you want to learn badly enough, you can learn. Do you want to know badly enough to figure it out?

Make a difference today!

 

Making Rejection Work in Your Favor

By | Sales, Uncategorized | No Comments

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When I speak to sales groups, the subject of rejection comes up often during our Q and A sessions. Rejection is a natural part of the business of sales, and it is critically important to learn how to make rejection work in your favor. The way you view rejection will determine how you respond to each “no”, “not yet”, or “maybe” during your sales career. Your outlook will truly define your sales outcomes and income.

You must learn to love the word, “no” and believe each “no” you receive moves you one step closer to your ultimate goal, which is to hear the magic word…”yes.” – Paul Cummings

What does rejection really mean? Why are we hearing the word “no”? How do we use each “no” response as a call to action that allows us to turn the stopping stones into stepping stones that will lead us to a positive outcome? Is there value in each “no” we receive? Can we truly use rejection to our personal advantage as it relates to our career development? These questions are valid, and I have answers that will allow you to change your mindset about daily rejection.

Rejection Facts

  1. “No” means “not yet” and “not yet” means “yes” is coming your way!
  2. “No” provides you an opportunity to practice your techniques and thereby master the art of sales performance!
  3. “No” means the customer needs more information to make a decision they feel comfortable enough with to say “yes”!
  4. “No” means the customer is not fully satisfied that your product or service will meet or exceed their objectives!
  5. “No” is a call to action alerting you to slow down and ask better questions to get clarity and isolate the reason they said “no”!

“Rejection is not a setback; it’s a shout out from the customer saying, “Please help me say yes.”  – Paul Cummings

The Psychology

Average salespeople tend to react to rejection as though the word “no” is a dagger to their heart. Many take it so personally and allow temporary setbacks to affect their attitudes and dampen their enthusiasm. They give up on the sales opportunity and quit on the customer, believing the sale is lost. Guess what? This type of thinking leads an average salesperson down the path to low sales performance and results. The ultimate destiny is one of self-imposed negativity and can be career-ending. Instead of giving up, you must learn to have “Get back up” mentality.

“No” is just the beginning of the sales process, and professionals visualize this is where the real selling and value building begins with the customer. – Paul Cummings

Winner’s Attitude

“No” to a pro is just like water off a duck’s back. A pro knows that “no” is temporary, and it is during these “no moments” that all their hours of practice and preparation pay off. A pro knows that converting a “no” is about patience, persistence, and professionalism. A pro stays calm and confident when rejection comes his or her way. A pro responds in a positive way keeping the customer’s individual point of need in mind. The mindset of a pro is one of optimism and enthusiasm because they believe that every temporary loss or setback contains a permanent lesson.

At some point in your career, you decide to be either average or exceptional. The choice of how you view “NO” will be a determining factor in which path you ultimately take. Pros love the word “No” and average salespeople fear “No.” – Paul Cummings

Which path will you choose?

Make a difference today.

Get Up Meetings

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AAEAAQAAAAAAAAi0AAAAJGM0YmYzYjYwLTM1YjMtNDk5MC04NDIyLTNhMjc0ZDc5MjE5YgAs I walked into one of my client’s education rooms recently, I was immediately inspired by their approach to conducting training and “Get Up” meetings. There were positive phrases all over the wall that promoted their culture. High-energy music played from a selected playlist intentionally used to elevate the moods of those in attendance. Leaders greeted every person through the door with a high five and an enthusiastic greeting. Wow.

Set the Tone

For years, we have taught thousands of our clients the power of energizing their meetings by implementing the “Get Up” meeting approach. It’s a powerful shift in approach that will immediately and positively impact your current meeting environment. Our mission is always to provide our clients with strategies that create a lasting impact.

Get Up Meeting Strategies

We encourage our clients to implement the following:

  1. E-Up the Environment. Use high-energy music to heighten the excitement in the meeting room.
  2. Enthusiasm Is Contagious. Leaders who meet and greet team members with a positive greeting and a high five kick off the meeting with enthusiasm.
  3. Excitement Will Build. Begin the meeting with a powerful and positive message centered around a recent success story about a team member.
  4. Cheer the Team. Ask everyone in the room to “Get Up” and then use the following “I Say, You Say” strategy to build the energy to Level 10.
  • Leader: What Is Today? Team: This is My Day.
  • Leader: Who Are You?   Team: I am the Best!
  • Leader: What Is Our Mission? Team: To Serve Our Customers
  • Leader: What Is Our Goal? Team: We Will Sell Successfully Today
  • Leader: What Level Are You At? Team: 10!
  • Leader: What Is Our Standard? Team: Every Day Every Time Without Fail No Exceptions
  • Leader: Who Are We? Team: We Are One
  • Leader: One What? Team: One Team One Voice One Purpose

At this point, the leader instructs everyone to high five two people and sit down. This approach has a dramatic impact. The energy will be in the air, and the enthusiasm and excitement will be intense. It instantly creates a powerful ripple effect throughout your business.

“A meeting should always be structured to Get People Up not Beat People Up.” – Paul Cummings

The Content of the Meeting

My loyal readers will remember I wrote an article about making sure meetings don’t waste your people’s time. There is nothing worse than sitting in a pointless meeting when you have work to do, even if the energy is high. Remember, every meeting must have a purpose. Stay on target. These group meetings are designed to provide the following to a team:

  1. Knowledge that can help the team perform at a higher level.
  2. Attitude motivators that serve to inspire a team and improve morale.
  3. Skill enhancement exercises that will serve to stimulate performance and efficiency.
  4. Habit development to assist team in becoming more consistent in daily process delivery.

Powerful Exit Strategy

Our Belief is that all meetings must end on a high note. People should leave motivated to take action to propel themselves and the company forward and upward. There are many ways to do this, but here are a few strategies we have implemented successfully. I’m confident they will work for your organization if you choose to take action:

  1. Recognize outstanding performances and inspire others to strive to join the ranks of high achievement.
  2. Share any good news about the organization that will make your team proud of their accomplishments.
  3. Recognize those who have attained 5/10/15/20, etc. anniversaries with the company to promote tenure within the organization.
  4. Promote and recognize any charitable or community support programs you have participated in to build on the goodwill of your organization within your community.

Any of these strategies will create a positive exit from your “GET UP” meetings. It’s my hope you will take action and revitalize your meeting environment as well as your team’s experience. Make the magic happen in your meetings, and your people will make the magic happen with your customers.

Make a difference today.

Driving Ambition

By | Motivational, Productivity, Uncategorized | No Comments

What drives our daily actions? I think it has a lot to do with our personal ambition. Ambition is a unique word as it means different things to different people. What are you ambitious about? I believe a person’s ambition has everything to do with what they truly want out of life. Ambition is a catalyst for your actions and effort. So let’s examine the known definition:

“an earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.”

Observation

I’m not certain I agree with the stated definition. I don’t think every person who possesses ambition is seeking power, fame, or wealth. In fact, the most ambitious people I have ever met are driven by a deep desire to leave this world better than they found it. They care deeply about giving of themselves to make a difference to others without any expectation of return.

“I would not sit waiting for some vague tomorrow, nor for something to happen. One could wait a lifetime, and find nothing at the end of the waiting. I would begin here, I would make something happen. ” –  Louis L’Amour, Sackett’s Land

What Drives You?

What are you most ambitious about on a consistent basis? What intention is the driving force powering that ambition? As you think about what motivates you, here is a list of attributes displayed by highly ambitious individuals to help guide you. Ambitious people are:

  • Energized by their work
  • Self-disciplined in their approach
  • Goal-directed daily
  • Passionate about their life
  • Efficient in their actions
  • Intense about succeeding
  • Hustlers as a way of life
  • People who execute as a minimum standard
  • Positive in their outlook
  • Finishers of what they start

“You must give everything to make your life as beautiful as the dreams that dance in your imagination.” –  Roman Payne

How many attributes are you displaying every day? Every ambitious action you take in life puts a brush stroke on your “ambition” canvas. Are you consistent in driving your personal ambitions relentlessly? Ambition is an engine waiting to be kickstarted by you on a daily basis. The engine will never run if you don’t self-start every day.

“Never give up your ambitions.

It’s like breathing—once you quit, your flame dies letting total darkness extinguish every last gasp of hope. You can’t do that. You must continue taking in even the shallowest of breaths, continue putting forth even the smallest of efforts to sustain your dreams. Don’t ever, ever, ever give up.”  – Richelle E. Goodrich

Make a difference today.

Find out about Paul Cummings University demos here.

Copyright 2016: Paul Cummings Enterprises.

Don’t Hate the Hustle

By | Inspirational, Productivity, Uncategorized | No Comments

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At the start of every month, I look back over the last 28-31 days of my life and ask myself, “Did I hustle my tail off? Did I give all my sweat, blood and tears to the goals I was trying to achieve?”

What is your perception of the word “hustle”? Is there a positive or negative thought running through your brain? Many people who have never hustled, view it negatively. Talk to any true entrepreneur who dove headfirst into their dreams, and you’ll find all positive thoughts about the word “hustle” because they live, eat, drink, sleep, and breathe the hustle. I love the hustle. It feeds my soul.

Are you hustling your tail off? What are you doing with your time? How are you responding to the pretenders, haters, and negative people in your life telling you to chill out and slow down? What do you say to, “Maybe you should wait and think about it before you go all in? What if you fail? What if it doesn’t work?”

My answer is always, “Thanks for your thoughts and opinions, but I have a different plan.” Don’t be hesitant or slow to go because there is no perfect moment. Just hustle and execute, and make adjustments along the way. You have the capacity, but you must hustle.

Planning on writing a book? Stop planning, and do it. Have a new product idea? Go door to door, and show it to everyone. Go kick “no” in the face. Everything changes when you sucker punch your own doubt and just hustle. TechTown was launched because of hustle. It was created and exists today because I didn’t listen to comments like, “Slow down. We haven’t decided where innovation is going to go.” Innovation is wherever there is a person with a great idea who is willing to hustle and execute.

When I launched Woople, people said, “The space is too big. The market is saturated. You can’t compete with the big boys.” They were right, but we built it anyway and generated $50 million in revenue in 36 months. Hustle and execute.

Check out garyvaynerchuk.com. This dude is the king of hustle and execution. Watch his videos, and subscribe to his YouTube channel. Drink up his mesmerizing message, and ask yourself, “Am I hustling in this way every day?”

Don’t be afraid to promote what you do, what you sell, and who you are in the world. You must not fear sharing your story out of some misguided notion of being thought self-serving. Go tell the world what you do, and master the art and science of the hustle.

The Turn Downs

I have been turned down more in the last 32 years than all the beds in a Hyatt hotel.

So what? It’s part of the life of an entrepreneur. The word “No” is your friend and should be your friend. Just keep moving forward and cut through the rejection with hustle and intense execution. Put on a brand new coat of thick skin, and go blast your way through until you exceed your goals and dreams. This is what people who love the hustle do, and keep doing, and keep doing, and then they begin again.

Love the hustle, and make a difference today.

Find out about Paul Cummings University demos here.

Copyright 2016: Paul Cummings Enterprises.