Saturday, December 15, 2012

Embarking on an Epic Adventure

Have you ever found yourself on the edge of a great where you are anticipating all of the twists and turns and unknowns?  An anticipation so palpable and real that you have to catch your breath and pause for just a little bit before jumping right in?

I find myself in just such a place today as I begin research on a book that will tell a story, a real-life story, so inspiring and thought-provoking that it will make a difference in the lives of everyone who reads it...and everyone it is about.

Have you ever been told "you can't," but did anyway?  Have you ever felt you weren't good enough, but proved the naysayers wrong?  Have you ever wondered how some people just seem to follow a call to something greater and can push through all the obstacles and challenges, heartache and pain, to emerge victorious, despite the odds being stacked against them?  Have you ever wished you had the strength to do that yourself and prayed for someone to show you the way?

I hope I have whet your appetite.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

West Point Renewal

The image above is one of respect....and awe....and thankfulness...just the beginning of the emotions that flooded through me as I returned to my 25th reunion at the United States Military Academy at West Point.  As my fellow classmates and I stood in the reviewing party together, it was hard not to remember just how it felt to stand in formation on Saturday morning before a home football game.  It was hard not to remember how much we thought it sucked....even as much as we thought it was beautiful and impressive on this day.

I would hope that each of you has a place you can go to and remember....a place that, like West Point, you can point to as your "watershed moment" in your young life.  Please feel free to share that here if you would please honor me with that?

For me, The Academy will always be my watershed moment.  I learned so much about life there....about myself, my friends, The Army.  I finished my 4 years there so much better than I started, but not the best I would become.  That happened with marriage to my wife and our raising of our five wonderful children.

Like my Cadet days at West Point, life has had its ups and downs.  And I have learned and adjusted and learned some more....only to find they keep changing the rules!  And still we adapt and overcome.

West Point taught me that my life, to have meaning, could not be just about me.  I am thankful for that.  Leadership, in all of its forms, must be about those we lead.  Be it your family, your team at work, a client team, or the local Rotary club....leadership is focused on the led.

So, I thank God for the opportunity to renew, recharge, and go forward, thankful for being blessed to have had the opportunity to know such great people in such a truly special place.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What Does Crush It Mean?

I gotta tell you all I have recently been working on how to monetize my blogging efforts as I believe much of what I have shared here, and will share, is really pretty good and, with the right effort to drive traffic through link-backs and great content and keyword optimization, I can drive the traffic here, and on additional blog topics, through the roof!

So, as we have all rightly or wrongly learned, I have been working to understand just how to do that.  God knows there are an incredible amount of folks out there willing to "share" their knowledge of how to do this.  Two I have become very fond of over the last couple of years (okay, yes!  I'm a slow learner!  I'm okay with it...or I was okay with it...) are, in my view, at polar opposites about how to get this done....Gary Vaynerchuk, and Tim Ferriss.

If you know anything about either, you are already more tied into how to make your life so much better than 85% of the population.

Gary Vaynerchuk is the author of Crush It! and the purveyor of , a site he used to build his personal brand and he is no longer doing since episode 1000 in March of 2011.  These days, he is writing, loving his family, running VaynerMedia with his brother AJ and making a killing as a public speaker.

Time Ferriss is the author of The 4-Hour Workweek  (also on CD at  The 4-Hour Workweek and "The 4 Hour Body" and author of the The Blog of  Tim Ferriss , which I am glad to say Tim has remained faithful to this element he has used to build his personal brand.

Gary is all about "WORK YOUR A$% OFF, PEOPLE!  IF YOU'RE PASSIONATE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO, YOU WON'T MIND WORKING 10 HOURS A DAY TO CRUSH IT!" (yeah, Gary is that loud and's why I love him!) and Tim is all about " smart....test, verify, set it up to work hands off, repeat as often as necessary then take yourself out of the equation as quickly as possible so all you have to do is cash the check as a member of the New Rich.  With enough continued effort, you will be able to escape the work-a-day rat race and reduce your workweek to 4 hours or less."  Both of these guys then give you the roadmap to get there.

While the approaches, on their face, seem to be at odds, they are definitely not.  They are complimentary views of the same whatever it takes to use the proliferation of the internet to create, as Tim Ferriss puts it "freedom of time and place."  That means the freedom to do what you "want to" instead of living your life doing what you "have to."

Here's to the beginning of seriously pursuing what I have learned.  Great learning must be followed by great action if great results are to be achieved!  I leave you with a classic from Gary  from a WEB 2.0 conference in 2008...and today...he is the real deal:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Some Folks Who Should Think Twice About Consulting

In the business of consulting, I have observed that to be successful, there needs to really be a sense of commitment to others....the company, the client, the team....the "others" who have really nothing to do with your personal life.  That being said, it also takes a certain type of person and life experience to be able to balance the demands of being good at consulting and being a good father, husband, friend, etc.

Consulting is an attractive profession for reasons too numerous to define here, but, I submit that you will become frustrated and eventually fail at this gig unless you can truly look in the mirror and make these statements honestly to yourself:

1.  I have a mature relationship with my wife and family and they support me 100%
2.  I am strong enough to put the team and the client ahead of myself when I am on assignment
3.  I can handle the stresses and frustration of full-time travel without taking it out on others
4.  I am okay with not being allowed to engage in the self-serving whining of "having a bad day."
5.  I can honestly approach mistakes as an opportunity to improve myself and my team without judgement on a personal level
6.  I can honestly listen to the feed back of my team and make an honest effort to improve, without judging them
7.  I have weighed the benefits and the costs and the benefits outweigh the costs

I see, time and again, people who are not cut out for this business, struggling to try and make it work.  They are bright, energetic and capable of many things.  Often, though, they refuse to answer these questions truthfully.  They take constructive criticism as a personal attack because they are incapable of this level of self-awareness and do not value anyone else's position on their performance.  This is often a problem with the "type-A" personalities drawn to the consulting gig.  Particularly disturbing to me are the personalities that put themselves ahead of their team and young, inexperienced consultants who think they can do this with a young marriage or young children (12 or younger), at home.  I am not saying it is impossible, but I would venture to guess...and it's just my observation, that more of these folks have wound up failing in this business than succeeding.  I applaud those who, when faced with the challenges of personal situations that can only be harmed by this gig, make the right decisions for their families.  The consulting world I have seen is littered with wrecked relationships of all kinds as a result of a lack of balance and true self-awareness.

I should know....I could not answer all of these questions truthfully when I began, but have learned to listen better and and think more about my team than myself.  I also have had the love and support of a wonderful family and we are living life to the balance.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Leading Your Family Through Change

They say that the only constant is change and the last couple of months have been absolutely crazy in our home!  To wit:

1.  My son, PFC Ben Pollhein, graduated his Army Advanced Individual Training as a Combat Photographer and came home for 10 days of leave
2.  My son James had his High School graduation week and graduation
3.  James, now also a PFC, then had a week of Summer vacation and then shipped off to Army Basic Combat Training
4.  My son Matt headed off to a week of Scout Camp
5.  James, Matt and I spent a few days painting a large portion of our old Victorian home
6.  Matt, Joe, and I led a 50-mile, week long canoe trip with 6 other scouts and leaders.

They say stress is brought on by changes...changes both great and small.  When many changes occur, there is often a very large disturbance in the harmony of the family.  Everyone must process change in their own way.  Being aware that change causes stress and that it can be very upsetting is critical to you as the leader of your family.  

We have been processing the changes in our home individually.  The house is much quieter now...with Matt still away at camp, Joey working every day, and Ben and James in the care of Uncle Sam.  Gillian is babysitting now, and trying to train her puppy.  Terri is rearranging things and wanting to go "do stuff.". "Stuff" like canoeing and making plans to visit friends and family.  I am heading back to Colombia, South America to do more consulting work.  When I return next week, Matt, Joey and I will be leading a week-long 50-Mile Canoe Trip with Matt's Scout Troop.  And the activity in our family continues, each of us knowing that even though many things have changed, our lives will move on in new directions with different things taking priority.  Through all of it, we will be strong as a family because we love each other.  As two of our sons serve their country, we will remain close to them and watch them grow and mature in their new roles.

As the leader of your family, know that whatever changes your family might experience, they will look to you to lead them through.  Listen and give guidance.  Take time to discuss the changes one-on-one with your individual family members.  Focus on the whole, but don't forget that spending time with each individual is also important.  Do things together....Most of our cherished memories are of doing something fun or exciting together.  And at the end of the day, remember to set aside some time for yourself.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

¡Estoy aprendiendo español!

¡Buenas tardes amigos y amigas!

I am so enjoying the experience of learning Spanish wile on this assignment.  Besides the fact that everyone here speaks Spanish all the time, I have taken to skipping lunch to spend an hour with Rosetta Stone.

 I have the new Totale version and I find it very easy to use.  I am learning many words and ways to communicate as well as a larger Spanish vocabulary.  The grammar lessons are valuable too.

But by far, the biggest help to my language learning is being here in Colombia, South America at a mine site 24/7 for two weeks at a time.  Not only is my team made up of native Spanish speakers, but everyone around me is speaking Spanish all day long!  I sit in meetings and try to understand the overall gist of what is going on and I go back an look up words I hear that I do not know on Google Translate, an awesome free site that allows me to type in a word and have it translated!

As my company expands into Latin America, now is definitely the time to learn this language.  And learning it in this environment is great!  If you are interested in learning a language, spending time speaking with native speakers is often recommended as a great way to learn.

Wish me "Buena Suerte!"

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shall we Talk About the Gorilla in the Room? How About the Sacred Cow?

                                                           Photo Courtesy of Benjaman Pollhein

I find it curious how often the most obvious and painful problems are ignored and overlooked by teams working to create change in their organizations.  It is almost as if the teams fear the "Gorilla in the Room" will jump up and bite them if they dare talk about it!  The fact of the matter is the Gorilla likes allows the problem to just keep biting whomever he wishes, whenever he wishes.

Ever seen this in your your your volunteer organization?  I have found also that the "Gorilla in the Room" has another dysfunctional relative he likes to hang out with....The Sacred Cow.

Together, these two are responsible for inhibiting progress everywhere.   It often sounds like this:

  • "Oh we can't change that!  The VP will get upset!"
  • "You can't talk about that crappy MRP install!  That's forbidden!"
  • "Let's stick to the things within our control.  That (insert Gorilla or Sacred Cow name here) belongs to  Harry and he won't ever let us change that!"
  • "What Gorilla?"
If you are trying to create meaningful change, you will encounter these two ornery critters eventually.  When you do, the best way to deal with them is to look them squarely in the eyes and politely ask them to leave.  Most people are so afraid of these two that they do not realize is that once an organization decides it does not want them around and makes that known, they usually just leave!  Take the bull by the horns and remember:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Celebrate Success!

As I do more and more Consulting Gigs, I have started to realize something.....there is not enough celebrating going on!  Change management is a tough gig, especially when you do it all over the globe and in different cultures and languages.  One of the constants is that people like to celebrate their successes.

Now, you probably don't have a problem doing that in your personal life.  I would imagine that you, like me, make a big deal out of things like moving-up ceremonies, graduations, great test scores, birthdays, etc.  Why do we lose our way in the work-world?

It doesn't have to be a huge deal...a nice dinner, a token of appreciation, whatever.  But take the time to celebrate success wherever you make it happen.  Thank folks for a job well done.  It's actually a lot of fun!

                                                            Photo courtesy of Cristino Orengo

Monday, May 14, 2012

Family Allegiance

One of the immediately recognized images for most adults of cowardice....The Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz.  He eventually found courage when it came to defending his new found "Family."  But this is only because he did not want to remain a coward.

As the leader of a family, I am often amazed at the cowardice displayed by some people.  Unlike our friend the Lion, these cowards are those people who will not come to you with a problem, but instead, they will go behind your back and use "da rules" to protect themselves.  They actually enjoy causing mischief in underhanded and cowardly ways.  Families need to stand strong in the face of this kind of cowardice, especially with the multiple social media venues for this type of shameless behavior

In my experience, most normal problems with other people can only be adequately addressed by working it out with the other person directly.  If you haven't tried that first, then all other solutions seem like what they are....cowardice.  If you've tried and the other person wants nothing to do with solving the issue directly with you, then by all means, try getting someone to help you address the problem with that individual.  But don't go there until you have pulled up your big-boy panties and tried to make things right yourself....honestly and directly.

Cowards can really make a mess of things by repeating rumors and hearsay.  They often, intentionally or unintentionally, drag good people through bad stuff.  They use the latest "concern du jour" to their personal advantage and do not think of the consequences.  Often times, the consequences blow back in their faces...but not often enough.

If you find yourself the victim of a coward's stupidity, do yourself a favor.  Contact the individual personally and try to work it out.  If that fails, try to get the necessary assistance to work it out directly, without resorting to gossip.  Talk to your family about how to avoid these cowards and their mischief.  Your kids will thank you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Just when you think you've seen everything... get to see something you never have!  On my current assignment as a Director on a mining project in Colombia, South America, I often get to visit the various shops outside of the ones we are working in.  Yesterday, here are a few of the residents I got to meet!  They hang out in the shop because they can regulate their body temperature easily and Lunchtime is great!

Captions welcome!  Here's mine:  1st pic: "Okay boss!  Done with that last job....where do you want me to go next?"  Second pic: "I know there's a short in one of these...I just can't seem to find which one it is!"  Third Pic: "Hey!  Quit layin' down on the job and get back to welding!"  LOL!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Thinking About Blogging Again!

So much has been going on since my Ben left for the service that I have abandoned my readers.  I believe it is probably time to get back to the blog.  I have been relying on FaceBook to stay in touch and voice my opinions, but I am feeling like that is a cop-out.  I promised lessons on Leadership and am finding more and more that I have experienced much more that has taught me many things over the last year.

So....please stay tuned.  And Thank You, Dave Hengen, for pointing me back to the blogosphere.  I appreciate the kick in the pants!