A Chat With Two Inspiring Leaders: Kate and Sandy Dodge

Want to listen in on a conversation with people who built a remarkable company and changed a city?

Kate and Sandy Dodge (The NP Dodge Company) are two of the most amazing people with whom I have ever conversed.

The above will link you directly with the audio, but it is also available on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, etc.

Sandy is a quiet and thoughtful man so he can be a little tough to hear at times, but the little bit of extra attention required is worth it to glean his wisdom. Kate is brilliant and has a voice that resonates so she is pretty easy to hear.

Together they offer an extraordinary amount of virtual mentoring to anyone interested in growing as a leader…and quite frankly, as a human.

Give this podcast a listen and check out the rest of the season.

As always, please subscribe to the blog and/or connect on Facebook.

Four Steps To Seeing God In Your Driveway

No, I am not talking about seeing Jesus’ face in the cracks of the concrete or the tracks of the snow blower like the people who see his face in their food.

I saw God in my driveway yesterday, because a man was Jesus to me. A neighbor sacrificed his time and energy for me in snowblowing my driveway out of the kindness of his heart.

God’s love was on display through God’s creation. A free gift was given to me that I did not earn and am not asked to repay…although I plan to buy him a 12 pack.

I could certainly write about being Jesus to those around us and probably will at some point, but for now I think it is best to start at seeing God and helping others see God.

I think there are four basic steps. We need to:

Open Our Eyes To The World Around Us

If you are like me you spend plenty of time looking at a device of some sort. That is fine, but we all need to remember that what you see on there is not hard and fast reality. Too much device time creates an individualistic mindset…it has the potential to create a world view that says to us “this world is curated just for you” and embellishes the importance of what gets us excited/worked up.

We need to break out of that for the good of ourselves and those we love.

We need to see the people all around us. The world is in better shape than Twitter might suggest. Good people made in the image of God are all around you.

Remember That God Created People In God’s Image

Because God made humans in his image
        reflecting God’s very nature.”

Genesis 9:6 – The Message

When we remember this fact we are more likely to appreciate the people around us for what they are vs. what clickbait wants us to see.

Of course, our human resemblance to God’s image is most often the equivalent of a disfigured Picasso impressionist portrait…but God created us and remembering this is crucial.

Enter Each Day Looking For Blessings

Start each day expecting to see God in your fellow humans.

If we expect to see pain, suffering, and evil…we will struggle to see good. Your worldview drives your perceptions. Choose a positive worldview that reflects that God created and you will see the beauty in God’s creations…his people.

Use confirmation bias to your advantage and choose to see good.

Tell Stories

Humans love stories! Tell your family members, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances about the good you see in the world. You will shape their worldview so that they can see God too.

The more we notice good in the world the less we will dwell on the negatives constantly fed to us via our devices/social media.

Train your brain to see good and help those you care about to do the same.

They will thank you for it!

If this resonates with you follow the blog, connect on Facebook, and share this post.

Thanks and God bless!

Quick Guide To The How and Why Behind Minimalist Management

I am often asked how I came to believe in this idea of Minimalist Management and what it all means to me. This short and simple video attempts to answer that question.

If this resonates with you follow the blog or connect on Facebook.

Special thanks Liz Macro for recording and editing this video when she was a student at Creighton.

Week Ender – Personal Strategic Question

A quick thought to help your week end and to provide stimulation for weekend reflection.

Will It Make The Boat Go Faster

Four Lessons on Living From a Man Who Made a Difference

How do you get a street named after you when you weren’t a city “father”, a major philanthropist, a company founder, a celebrity, or the person who once lived on the developed land?

Put another way, how does an “ordinary” man get a street named after him (and another street named after his grandson)?

I am becoming obsessed with the stories of people who aren’t famous but make a significant impact on people and communities. Fortunately for me, I grew up with an uncle who was just such an “ordinary” man.

This is a story of Denny Darnold, a not-so-ordinary man, and four lessons we can learn from the way he lived his remarkable life.

Until a couple years back when you Googled “Darnold”, you didn’t get many results…the Darnolds aren’t exactly the Rockefellers or Kardashians (thank God). Of course, distant cousin Sam recently elevated our Google prominence and taught people how to pronounce our name.

Denny and Grandson at end of dock

We Darnolds aren’t generally headline seekers, we are more folks who sit on the end of docks with our grandchildren. Thanks to Uncle Denny (and of course my Father), I understand the beauty and power in a humble strength approach to living though their example.

Lessons on Living From Denny Darnold

1. Live With Great Integrity

While eulogizing my Uncle the Mayor of Hudson Wisconsin listed Denny’s many accomplishment and awards (see a nice story about Denny’s accomplishments here). However he also emphasized one word, integrity. I think he said it ten times. And for good reason…integrity, and care for family, were the values most enacted in Denny’s life.

The Mayor told a story about a man who interacted with Denny on a regular basis professionally. That man told the Mayor upon my Uncle’s recent retirement that he was happy Denny was retiring because he could now buy Denny a beer.

He was a city planner and he wouldn’t allow vendors, contractors, etc to even buy him a beer because he feared it would mar his reputation for integrity!!!

The Mayor also told a story about the only time he saw my Uncle lose his temper. You guessed it, someone challenged Denny’s integrity.

Uncle Denny and his Grandson Easton on Darnold Dr.

Denny understood that in his role, one of public service, he must never be seen as beholden to anyone but the citizens. He knew that if his loyalty to the people was clear he could be effective for them and that he and his family would never be embarrassed by some negative story that would come to light.

“A Man of Integrity”

I believe we are all called to live with great integrity. Claim the right values and align your actions with those claimed values!

2. Value Function Over Form

I drive a Honda Accord because of my uncles (Tom factored in here as well) and I probably will until Honda messes up their value proposition.

In my opinion, the only reason to own something is because it meets a need (broadly defined). If an attribute of a thing doesn’t cause it to better meet a need, why pay for it. The logo doesn’t add tangible value…only symbolic value. Some needs are met by symbolic value…not very many of mine.

Denny modeled this for me at an early age.

Buy Function Not Form

I remember when Denny first saw me pull up in my Accord. He was proud! At the time I found this strange. Now I believe he saw this as a sign that I had grown into a man who valued the important things. In his view (and mine), Honda Accords have the features you need and they function efficiently…they just run. The things that are important in a conveyance for an office worker.

Honda has become the symbol for me – contradiction intended – of valuing function over form.

3. Have and Share Personal Passions

Denny was a man of many passions.

Denny was a childhood athletic prodigy in a tiny town in Southwest Iowa. He loved the communal nature of sports. He played golf almost literally until the day he died. Many golf buddies came to his funeral and were some of the most sorrow filled non-family members in attendance.

He used his passions as means to build relationships. He was on the shy side so I believe that having connections to people through common interests was especially important to him.

Denny and I both went to Iowa State and he loved to follow Creighton basketball as well. He and I connected through these common interests. But more importantly, we connected early in my life through golf. This is odd because I don’t think we played more than a few rounds together in my entire life. I only remember one.

We connected because he brought me along as a caddy. I went to visit him for about a week most every summer and he would take me along to some tournament. I did nothing but hurt his chances of winning. I know for a fact that he was distracted because of me during a match play final (match play is where two players are going head to head). However, he never got angry with me and had me caddy for him again the next year and the next.

I loved this in real time and in hindsight this was amazing! I learned so much about how to relate to people at these tournaments and I bonded with my Uncle.

Uncle Denny with my Aunt Jeanne

I wasn’t the only one who experienced this.

Denny bonded with his in-laws by becoming a huge Packers fan when he moved to Wisconsin.

Denny bonded with his father in-law through fishing.

And most importantly, he bonded with his children through their interests. He coached their youth sports and shared his love of art most especially with his son.

Don’t be selfish about your passions. Use the energy they provide to build relationships and influence others.

4. Be a Person of Few Words

Meaning > Multitude

I am still trying to live this lesson.

Denny & Brecken, Brecken will be memorialized by a city street just like his Grandfather. Check out my Cousin Sarah’s blog to learn more about Brecken’s story. http://www.mommingstrong.com/

My Uncle lived with a humble strength that allowed him to make an huge difference in the world.

The people of Hudson valued the way he lived his life as much or more than the zoning decisions he recommended.

I believe humble strength is how an “ordinary” man gets a street named after him whether it be literal or metaphorical.

I think we all need to be mentored by these “ordinary” people through their stories. I aim to tell these stories in a way that helps others grow. I wrote about my Grandfather in “My First Minimalist Management Mentor” and I am proud and humbled to pay tribute to my Uncle Denny in this post. He was a remarkable man!

He is one of the many additional people I should have discussed in my TedX talk if it weren’t for that pesky time limitation.

Who are your “ordinary people” and what life lessons can you learn from them?

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7 Leadership Lessons From ICAN 7x7x7

Last night I was honored to be a part of the Omaha 7x7x7 Leadership Exchange in partnership with ICAN. This is one of my favorite events of the year.

I love it because it is rapid fire. Seven speakers, seven minutes each, seven unique leadership focused subjects.

I thought it would be helpful to share some of my take aways from this powerful evening. My take aways are not specifically attributable to any one speaker, they are themes that emerged across speakers.

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Terry Lee, Sr. Trainer and OD Consultant at Securities America

1. Context Matters

A theme that emerged across nearly every speaker was that context matters. First, you as a leader need to find or create a context for yourself where you can utilize your strengths…you need to find fit. If not, finding success will be especially difficult. It is already difficult enough to lead (a bonus theme/take away).

Second, you need to create a context for your people where they can find success. They need to understand what winning means for your organization (e.g. business, not-for-profit, family, team) and need to know how to help the organization win.

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Chief Todd Schmaderer, Omaha Police Department

2. How You Communicate Matters

It appears to me that many people believe that simply sharing information equals communicating well…not so.

You need to communicate for effect. What is the outcome you desire from your communication? What do you want people to take away? What is the headline you would want to read in the morning regarding your situation?

You need to communicate with the proper tone. Sometimes you need to be dead serious, sometimes humor is appropriate. However, when you use humor you must be thoughtful about it. What is the goal of the humor? Will humor help or harm?

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Dr. Beverly Kracher, Business Ethics Alliance & Creighton Heider College of Business

3. Authenticity Matters

Be authentic and allow your people to do the same.

“Covering” at work is very harmful to self and to employees! The act of covering up your true self is exhausting and will lead to under performance and burnout. You need to hire great people and let them bring their whole self to work. You as a leader need to do the same. If not, you will suffer and eventually your people will see through the act.

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Judy Ricketts, Managing Director at TD Ameritrade

4. A Learning Orientation Matters

Learning occurs in many ways, the key is that you strive to learn.

You learn through research. You dig until you understand the truth of the matter and the root cause. In doing so you can fix the true problem and avoid reoccurrence.

You learn through experience. Be ambitious, take risks, don’t be afraid to try new things so you can learn and grow.

You learn by seeking and listening to feedback. You need to utilize your strengths, but you also need to understand your areas for future growth. What news tools do you need to acquire?

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Paul Mass, CEO of The Scoular Company

5. Connections Matter

Leaders need to see and create connections.

You need to understand how the work gets done through your people. Who works with whom to create value. You need to help those folks set aside their self interests so that your organization can flourish.

You also need to understand who should be connected in order to create or seize new opportunity. Understand the people in your world so you can introduce those who will work well together.

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Mindy Millward, Founder and Managing Partner at Navalent

6. Nurturing Talent Matters

Great leaders nurture talent.

You need to understand how to best pour into your people. You need to help them develop skills that will benefit the organization, but you also need to enable people to develop and live out their passions (family, community, hobbies) beyond your organization.

That said, you must also fill your own cup. What do you need to grow? What interest do you need to pursue? Which loved one do you need to spend time with? Your cup must remain full in order to be able to pour into other’s cups.

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Arun Agarwal, Founder of White Lotus Group

7. Community Matters Can Be Organizational Matters

You need not sacrifice organizational outcomes to help the community. Find the intersection of interests. How can you meet an organizational goal while also meeting a community need?

Understanding the needs of those around you is the key. When you understand people’s true needs you will know how to effectively help and can determine how to align organizational interests.

In the end, by connecting community and organization both those you lead and the community will benefit.

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ICAN Breakout Circles

It was a fantastic event and I hope this post conveys a bit of the wisdom that was shared. Make sure to check it out in person next year!

Join the Minimalist Manager Community by following the blog or by “Liking” the  Facebook Page.

 

TEDx Talk: The Minimalist Manager Mindset

If you want to understand Minimalist Management living and leading, this blog, and to a large degree…me… give this a quick watch. I hope it is helpful to you. The key themes are purpose, mentorship, self-reflection, faith, gratitude, wisdom, leadership and of course minimalism. I am honored to have shared the TEDx stage with so many amazing people. Check out tedxcreightonu.com!

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Killing Motivation Vampires: Micro-Management

Motivation Vampire

Micro-management is a motivation vampire…please forgive the hyperbole.

A quick working definition of micro-management is to manage with excessive control.

Autonomy is life giving…being controlled will suck the life right out of you.

Signs You Are A Micro-Manager

We Need To Talk About Your Flair
Office Space must be referenced in this post.

Obviously, what is excessive varies from situation to situation and some situations require more oversight than others. For example, when a task is new to a person they may require significant oversight and instruction, but if they still need a high level of oversight and instruction after some training then either they do not have the attributes required, the tools required, the proper context in which to practice, or you are a poor teacher/coach/manager.

Minimalist Management

Minimalist Management is based in the belief that meaningful and clear work allows people to flourish. The people you care about…team at work, children, friends, etc…will thrive when they are working toward something they believe is meaningful and they understand how to be successful.

This pertains to teaching your children to mow the lawn, enlisting your friends in your service activity of choice, or influencing your team to support the new organizational strategy. Meaning and clarity matter!

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Meaning and clarity are abundant in farming and I don’t know many unmotivated farmers

This isn’t just an opinion. Research published in the top academic journals supports this claim. Meaning and clarity are a part of what is often called empowerment. For example, Seibert, Wang, and Courtright (2011) provide evidence from numerous studies that empowerment is positively related to satisfaction, commitment, performance, voluntary pro-social behaviors, and innovation. Further, it is negatively related to strain and a desire to leave an organization. If you want more nerdery, I will put a little more at the end of the article.

If you started to glaze over during the academic speak…that is all really good stuff for the people you care about.

Warding Off Micro-Management Using Minimalist Management

The Minimalist Manager version of garlic, mirrors and sunlight, or a crucifix and holy water is the The Minimalist Management Bill of Rights. It provides some good starting points for warding off this motivation vampire as well as many other motivation vampires.

If you fear you will need to struggle against a real vampire read Six Ways To Stop A Vampire.

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This entrepreneur is the picture of meaning meets clarity

Right 1. Everyone deserves the opportunity to strive toward something personally meaningful.

Do your people understand how their work will improve things for themselves, their family, their team, their organization? If not, it’s time for a conversation. Don’t assume they do. You know what they say about assuming…Don’t do it…this is a family blog.

Right 2. Everyone deserves to have clarity of task and purpose.

Do your people understand what is being asked of them and why they are being asked to perform that task? If not, it’s time for a conversation.

Right 3. Everyone deserves to believe that they can successfully complete their work.

Do your people have the abilities and tools to complete their work as well as an environment conducive to the completion of their work? If not, you need to train them up or move them to another task. You need to get them the tools they need. And/or you need to create a conducive environment. Failure to do these things will lead to demotivation as it will be unclear to your people how they can be successful.

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Task: Put the ball in the net. How: Using the tactics and skills we have practiced.

Be Diligent

By using these rights as pillars of your culture you should ward off micro-management before drastic measures are required.

However, if you are not diligent then your people will likely fall short of your expectations and you might convince yourself that your people need excessive control. You will then exercise that control and you will create a negative habit that will drain your people until they avoid you, quit, end the friendship, or end up in years of therapy to overcome your parenting.

You have the choice to drain life or give life to your people. Don’t be a vampire.

As always, if you found this helpful please share.

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Bonus Nerdery

Just to be clear. I could go on and on talking data on this…

One more example study, Liden, Wayne, and Sparrowe (2000) showed that meaning and competence (two key dimensions of empowerment) held important relationships with outcome variables. Meaning held the key relationship with satisfaction and commitment while competence was key to performance. We need all three to create a healthy performance environment. This study also provides empirical evidence for the importance of high quality inter-personal relationships even when controlling for beliefs about the work itself.

A note about the study referenced in the main part of the post. That study was a meta-analysis. Meta-analysis combines across many studies to estimate the relationship between variables of interest. That study suggests that individual level empowerment is most strongly related to job satisfaction (r = .64), then organizational commitment (r = .63), then strain (r = -.37), then intention to leave (r = -.36), then organizational citizenship behavior (r = .34; pro-social helping behavior), then innovation (r = .28), then task performance (r = .27; r = .54 when people rated their own performance). Empowerment is also likely related to other variable you might find interesting, but those variables likely had not yet been studied enough to be included in this caliber of meta-analysis. Unfortunately, this meta-analysis didn’t break down empowerment into its underlying parts, but it is otherwise a great piece of work and I am not just saying that because two or the three authors are friends of mine. It was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology which is the top applied psychology journal in the world (as was Liden et al.).

 

 

A Bill of Rights For Work and Beyond

I believe it is high time that we managers have something we can point to when we are feeling violated and that those we manage can throw in our face when we are not living up to our duty to help our people flourish.

I believe that these “Rights” are applicable in most any context whether it be work, home, play, or service. While I suspect I will not be an originalist when it comes to this Bill of Rights…meaning it will likely change some over time, RIP Justice Scalia…, I certainly believe that these Rights are important because substantial evidence suggests that when respected these Rights lead to motivation and satisfaction. If these rights are respected I believe fantastic things will happen for Minimalist Managers and their people.

  1. Everyone deserves the opportunity to strive toward something personally meaningful.
  2. Everyone deserves to have clarity of task and purpose.
  3. Everyone deserves to believe that they can successfully complete their work.
  4. Everyone deserves to have their efforts recognized.
  5. Everyone deserves to receive both positive and constructive task focused feedback.
  6. Everyone deserves to have the resources they need to complete their work.
  7. Everyone deserves to work with people of integrity.
  8. Everyone deserves to work with people who stimulate them.
  9. Everyone deserves to work with people who support their personal and/or professional growth.
  10. Everyone deserves to have the actions and attitudes that affect them guided by evidence verses bias and tradition.

I will do my best to help those who strive to be Minimalist Managers live up to this Bill of Rights by providing support for these Rights. In particular, I aim to help people with Right 10 by providing research evidence that will help people live and manage in line with the The Minimalist Management Manifesto and this Bill of Rights.

What did I miss? I would love to engage in conversation around this Bill of Rights!

In order to better manage ourselves and others information is often helpful.

If you found this helpful please share.

 

Thankful 2017: Mentors

Yes, I am thankful for my faith, family, friends, work, etc. But, this year I am uniquely thankful for people in my life that serve as mentors…whether they know they are my mentors or not.

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Uncle Ron

Uncle Ron loves people and he loves the outdoors. He marvels at, and values, God’s creations. Ron is a careful steward of his resources, but will generously invest in the people and activities he values. He appears tireless, but knows how to relax. Ron cares deeply.

MentorTwo

Nicole may love people more actively than anyone I know. She constantly invests in growth, whether it is her own or the people she values. She energetically moves forward while honoring the experiences and people that fueled her growth. Nicole is brave.

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Bill reflects. He takes intentional action. Bill is willing to climb down into the muck to help people. He loves the people he serves, but takes the time and space he needs to refuel. He points to Jesus.

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Father Andy

The Jesuits at Creighton love people where they find them. They are for and with others. The hate injustice and take action. They learn. They teach. They know how to have a good time. The serve for the greater glory of God.

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During this natural time of reflection these mentors leapt to the front of my mind. Having them is a blessing for which I am thankful, but doing something with the wisdom I gain from them is up to me.

These people live and have inspired the values of The Minimalist Manager and I think of at least one of them daily. They inspire me and often serve as a guide through life.

Who inspires you?

Who serves as a guide?

What will you do with the gifts they have given you?

When will you start?

Please join us in The Minimalist Manager Community page of Facebook to discuss these questions.