Category: Success Tips

Discover Network

We used to call them "credit card companies." But the likes of Discover Network (and its rivals) now offer a plethora (that is, a dizzying array) of products and systems under the umbrella of the payments business. Tom's in Chicago today speaking to Discover Network's Acquirer Advisory Council.

Discover Network, Acquirer Advisory Council, 14 September 2011
Discover Network Long Version, 14 September 2011

Little BIG Things
Ways to Pursue Excellence #165: Boss as “Helper.”

Bosses exist to "help."

Check your calendar.
Right now.

What have been your EXPLICIT "helping" activities today?

Little BIG Things
Ways to Pursue Excellence #166: Employee as “Client.”

Your employees are your "Clients."

Use the word!

Little BIG Things
Ways to Pursue Excellence #167: Become a Student of “Helping.” Become a “Professional” Helper.

"Helping" is NOT (!!!) a "seat of the pants" activity.
Study it.
Practice it.
Master it.

Little BIG Things
Ways to Pursue Excellence #164: Priscilla-ism.

Understand the Power of Priscilla-ism.
Accept no less than Priscillas in any customer-facing job.
Follow the Container Store axiom and do not compromise on Priscilla-ism.


Success Tip #176:

Skip the Trashtalk!

Sure you're pissed off that the folks who will be the BENEFICIARIES (!!) of your Magnificent Work "just don't get it."

Hint: Calling them the likes of "irresponsible murderers" won't help!

Rule: Don't trashtalk prospective users of your programs—even in the most private of private conversations with your most trusted friends and allies!!

100 Ways to Succeed #175:


In preparation for a short speech at a Nature Conservancy fund raiser, I re-read Bill Birchard's Nature's Keepers: The Remarkable Story of How The Nature Conservancy Became the Largest Environmental Organization in the World. When former president John Sawhill was at TNC's helm, at one point he appointed a key task force to do a ground-up look at the organization's strategy. More specifically, per Sawhill's charge: "What areas should the Conservancy focus on and more important—what activities should we stop doing?"

In general, for you or me or our organization, consciously-systematically-strategically working on "stop doings" is of the utmost importance—and often overlooked. We might stop doing some distracting thing, or lower a priority—but that's not the same as a personal or organizational look at entire areas to excise from our agenda. (And then planning in exacting detail how to withdraw.)

So, I suggest:

In the next 90 days, work with your leadership team on a "Stop Doing Strategic Review." As I said above, once decisions have been made a careful execution plan must be developed.

(Along the way, do the same thing for yourself—with the eventual help of a "stop counselor.")

100 Ways to Succeed #174:

Promotion: The ONE Question

See above. The promotion decision should be dominated by the candidates' detailed track record at people development. The candidates' assertions should be carefully checked with the people the candidates claim to have developed.

100 Ways to Succeed #172:

Rigidity Watch!
Start Today!

"Rigidities" is not just the problem of Giants. Rigidity is a disease in 3-person accountancies and 11-table restaurants only one year old.

Stop what you are doing.
Right now.

Call your best customer.
Ask: How are we doing compared to a year ago? Six months ago? Are we making your life more complicated? Are we more bureaucratic in any way, shape, or form? Are we slowing down? Do we ever say, "I'd like to do that for you, but ..."? Etc.

Call your best vendor.
Repeat the above.

Visit your newest employee.
Ask: Have you run across procedures since you got here that you think are silly or over-complicated? If so, have you passed your concerns along? If you haven't, why not—do we make it intimidating to surface such concerns? If you have passed such concerns along, have you been praised for doing so? Has anything happened?

At every Exec Group meeting, set aside a 15-minute block to discuss a "dumbest thing we've done lately" item—insist that members bring a case along for discussion.

There's nothing special about my suggestions here—they are not necessarily meant to be followed, but merely to get you thinking about some anti-rigidity rituals you might invent.

100 Ways to Succeed #173:

Start Today!
Repeat Daily!

Consider the 3 (or 2 or 5) meetings you've been to today. Consider the 3 project milestones just buttoned up—or the 3 on the near horizon:

Has the word "EXCELLENCE" per se been used as a basis for evaluating your actions? Could you personally call the outcome of each meeting or the nature of the milestone/s achieved or approaching "Excellent"?

Key idea: The "Excellence Standard" is not about Grand Outcomes. In Zen terms, all we have is today. If the day's work cannot be assessed as Excellent, then the oceanic overall goal of Excellence has not been advanced. Period.

That is, the "Excellence Watch" must be a daily affair—or you simply are not serious about the overall Standard of Excellence.