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The Journey of a Team

A glimmer of hope.
A setback.

A team doesn’t become a tight-knit, unbreakable unit overnight. Getting to the point where trust is apparent and effort is instinctive requires hard work. A coach can uplift a confused, meandering lost team, but real focus requires the actual team members to step forward as leaders. The fight, drive and motivation must come from within the ranks. A inevitable setback won’t be a crushing blow to a team’s evolution, but a learning place where growth is free and fluid.

Team on.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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When your team grows, check your attitude – Part 2

In Part 1, we shadowed Bill as he struggled with the expansion of his marketing team. Two new hires joined the team and added value right from Day One. Bill’s behavior, however, was selfish and harmful to him and his team.

Are you Bill? Or are you a teammate who welcomes new mates with a smile and helping hand?

With the economy improving, your company might be expanding. If so, here are a few tips to help new teammates get up to speed faster.

See new teammates as a welcomed opportunity to shine and grow.

See new teammates as a welcomed opportunity to shine and grow.

  1. See the addition of teammates as an opportunity:

New people aren’t out to steal your job. They were hired to help the company grow. Ask how you can help them. Remember how nervous and unsure you felt during your 1st few weeks at a new job. The new teammates will appreciate that you’ll help them through the new job transition.

2.   Leverage the fresh eyes and perspectives:

If you’ve been with a company for a few years, you may know ‘too much’. This isn’t a bad thing to have deep domain expertise and a solid understanding of the company’s processes and paths to success, but you lose the ability to see things with fresh eyes and open minds.

When new employees join the team, ask them for their views on your market segment, messaging, promotional strategies – whatever initiatives where you feel stuck. Most likely, they’ll have some unique perspectives that will unlock higher levels of efficiency for the entire team.

Don’t be a ‘Bill’ who is short-sighted, selfish about new team members. Stretch for a ‘Bill’ who is eager for the new perspectives and experiences brought by new colleagues.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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When your team grows, check your attitude.

‘Bill’, a marketer, is a good team player for his organization. He seeks training when it’s available and always extends a helping hand when needed. He’s sought out for his leadership, guidance, and mentoring by many of the younger, more inexperienced members of the team.

The company that employs Bill is doing well, so the management team charges into expansion mode, hiring for a number of new positions on the marketing team. When this news reaches Bill, he changes.

He begins to feel and act paranoid.

Two thoughts echo through his head:

  • Why do we need new people? We have enough people that aren’t pulling their weight.
  • Great. The last thing I need is a new boss.

Bill starts hoarding information and his normal ‘encouraging’ attitude starts to dissipate. ‘Sue and ‘Ralph’ are interviewed for two new positions on the marketing team, but Bill declines to participate, citing that he has too much work to do. His boss wonders what’s wrong; Bill would never do such a thing.

When your team expands, are you thinking, "1, 2, 3, let's go?"

When your team expands, are you thinking, “1, 2, 3, let’s go?”

Sue and Ralph interview very well with the marketing team and are hired without reservation. Many on the team love the fact that Sue and Ralph are now teammates. They are lauded for their fresh, innovative ideas; most of the team believes the team becomes stronger with these new hires, except for Bill. Bill is bitter, sour, and confused about what these changes mean for him.

Bill sees Sue and Ralph as a threat to his knowledge, experience, and value to the team. He sees Sue and Ralph as near adversaries, not trusted allies in the company’s growth. Bill begins to purposely exclude Sue and Ralph from key meetings, and he publicly criticizes the two new team members on a daily basis.

So what’s wrong with this picture? How could this story turn for the better for Bill? How would you react in this situation?

Join us next time for the dramatic conclusion to this tale.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Lou Malnati’s: Bringing exceptional service to your doorstep

It’s pizza night. You pick up the phone and dial-up your local Domino’s, Pizza Hut, or Little Caesar’s. The pizza’s average, but the price is right, and, most importantly, the family’s full.

Being a native Chicagoan, I’ve a special taste for pizza. The paper thin crust and meager toppings offered by most chains doesn’t compare to the phone book thick crust and an abundance of luscious, fresh toppings that are standard on an authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Sorry Austin, Texas (my home), but you just don’t have a contender in the pizza category.

Lou Malnati's delivers quality pizza with a smart, sassy edge that's memorable.

Lou Malnati’s delivers quality pizza with a smart, sassy edge that’s memorable.

Santa Claus must have known my predilection for deep dish pizza when a special delivery from Lou Malnati’s arrived on my doorstep. When I viewed a box with the identifiable red and white checkboard matrix, I sported a smile as wide as a West Texas oilfield. Who needs toys, gadgets, and clothes for Christmas? This is a GIFT!

Inside the box was surely precious cargo, so I made haste with removing the ‘pizza gold’, placing it carefully in my freezer. I almost called the National Guard to ensure safety and security for the treasured prize.

While removing the pizza from its box, I noticed something remarkable: the packaging, promotion, and instructions were phenomenal.

On the top of the box, it said:

“Please refrigerate asap!
This box contains perishable food.
It would be a crying shame if they went bad.”

A crying shame? It would be a state of emergency of epic proportions. If Guinness were in town, I’d be awarded the fastest time ever recorded for removing perishable item from a box and placing into a freezer.

But wait, the packaging gets even better.

On one side of the box, it read:

“Someone must really like you.
Please read the gift message on the mailing label.”

I ‘liked’ the senders of this miracle gift before, so the feeling is mutual. Thanks Mom and Dad. This is one gift that really hit the bulls-eye with a surgeon’s precision.

Another side of the box mentioned the various other delicacies that the Lou Malnati’s Tastes of Chicago program can set on your doorstep. Dieting for the New Year? Forget about it. Order me some ribs, steaks, Chicago-style hot dogs, desserts. The workout program can wait until after I devour some more Chicago delights.

The messaging on this box motivated a quick open.

The messaging on this box motivated a quick open.

And who can forget the pizza?

I knew its resting place in the freezer was temporary. Every time I walked by the freezer, I thought I heard a faint voice with a thick Chicago accent saying, “Hi, I am a Lou Malnati’s pizza. What are you waiting for?” Only a few days passed until the oven hit 400 degrees and an authentic Chicago style deep dish was cooking.

The pizza cooked, appeared piping hot on the dinner table and we were as quiet as church mice while we ate. No conversation; just swimming in the succulent flavors of deep dish excellence.

The crust was golden; the thick sausage oozed with flavor; the cheese melted in your mouse with ease.  And then it was gone. Happy and full: what a combination.

Thank you, Lou Malnati’s, for delivering your superior pizza experience to someone far away from your Chicagoland locations. Next time I am in town, I’ll be sure to stop by for a taste in person.

And to anyone in charge of  a retail, online, product experience: with Lou Malnati’s, there’s authentic, true brilliance on display with packaging, quality, messaging, and marketing. We are listening, Lou Malnati; keep delivering the goodness.

Pizzerias in Austin: You’d have a customer for life if you could bring something to market that mimics Malnati’s.

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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Wake up, the dog’s ready to run

When the alarm sounds, it might as well be a starting gun.

As I stumble down the stairs, my knees creak as if to say, “Are you serious? Not again; isn’t it too early?”

As I approach her cage, she’s in the ready position.

Mouth open; tongue wagging; a faint smile appears.

We exit the house and grimace as a harsh winter chill splashes across our faces. This isn’t quite Minnesota, but this particular Texas morning toughens the skin.

Sometimes I am the puller; most of the time, I get pulled.

Sometimes I am the puller; most of the time, I get pulled.

We press onward – four feet hit the ground in melodic fashion, breaking the morning’s quiet cold. My feet shuffle awkwardly; I’ve not yet found my center. The dog’s in full stride while my legs feel as if they are blocks of wood.

Another morning jog begins; dog and man drifting into the distant darkness. We only see a few cars; they briefly paint our path with their incandescent headlights.

My knees and joints take 5 minutes to get accumulated, but Ruby, our athletic Labrador, strides fully, chasing a scent; the malevolent remnants of skunk or the markings of a coyote on the lookout for an early morning snack.

With a few hundred strides behind us, we run in unison. Ruby knows the twists and turns; she guides me as we appear under the faint hiss of a streetlight.

This won’t be our last run, although she sprints for home as if this were life’s sole purpose, a final push to define the day ahead.

At run’s end, I gasp for breath while she sneaks a furtive glance at me; her countenance saying, “Is that all you’ve got?”

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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