Customer Service & Relationships

It’s not hard to notice that the personal touch of customer service has declined through the years. Somewhere along the way, business started to become more about the bottom-line than about satisfying the customer. In this video, LIFE Founder Jill Guzzardo explains that effective customer-service and customer-relations needs to be more focused on the building a relationship with the customer than about profit margins

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How Busy Are We Really?

Ever have someone tell you they can’t do something because they’re so busy?

In today’s fast-paced society, it seems like people are more and more stressed. We typically attribute this stress to being too busy, but are we really as busy as we think we are? In this video, Kristine Militello poses this question. Kristine goes on to explain that we usually view being busy and having stress as negatives but actually they can be viewed as positives when they are being used to accomplish goals and dreams. Much like stressing a muscle during strength-training causes it to grow, we too can be strengthened through stressing ourselves in the pursuit of something truly worthy of what precious time we have.

The book that Kristine references is called the Power of Full Engagement and I highly recommend it!

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Are You Willing to Fuel Your Dream?

Do you know the story of the 1980 Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team? The “Miracle on Ice”?

Every great accomplish starts with a dream. We can’t expect to achieve anything great if we don’t first begin with a dream in mind and then fuel that dream every day. In this video, LIFE Founder and New York Times bestselling author Orrin Woodward shares the example of Herb Brooks and the 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic ice hockey team and how they overcame the seemingly impossible odds to defeat the dominant Soviet Union team in the gold medal game at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Orrin explains that because coach Herb Brooks constantly believed in and fed the dream of winning a Gold medal, even when the team themselves didn’t believe, they were able to overcome all the critics and the odds to achieve the unthinkable and put their mark in the history books. As Orrin says, “No dream, no guts, no story.”

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LIFE Leadership: The Secret to Professional Advancement

Leadership Soft Skills: The Secret to Professional Advancement

Do you want to get ahead in life? How about in your profession? Have you ever wondered why you’re not able to move ahead in life?

Many times the question is asked, “Why would I want leadership materials in my life? Why do I need to listen to CDs and read books about leadership? I’m already a leader at work!”

That statement may be true today, but as with all things in life, from fitness to finances to food, once something is declared ripe, what comes next? Rotten.

There is a leadership revolution brewing in America today. Companies have discovered that the mastery of technical skills alone does not make an employee a leader. In addition to the technical “hard skills,” a leader must also master the relational “soft skills” in order to advance personally and professionally.

While technical hard skills are typically learned during one’s formal education and supplemented with on-the-job training, soft skills, in contrast, are rarely taught in school or at work. Therefore, a potential leader must take personal responsibility for learning and applying the relational soft skills in his daily interactions with others. However, to do this properly, one must first understand the difference between a hard skill and a soft skill.

Perhaps the simplest method for differentiating between the two types of skills is to consider hard skills as science and soft skills as art. Whereas science focuses on objective numerical outcomes that can be measured, art focuses on subjective aesthetic outcomes that must be experienced. Hard skills (like typing speed, IQ level, or computer programming skills) can be measured objectively, while soft skills (like teamwork, patience, and persistence) can only be measured subjectively.

Soft skills produce impressive objective results because they are absolutely essential for great leadership. For instance, just because one cannot scientifically measure a leader’s influence, that does not mean it isn’t real or valuable to the company. It simply means that teammates experience the art of a leader’s soft skills despite the fact that those skills are not quantifiable. Of course leaders must have science-side competence (objective skills), but the difference maker is their art-side influence (subjective skills).

The second difference between hard and soft skills is in their scope of use. While hard skills are job-dependent techniques that can change with time and new assignments, soft skills are people-dependent and thus practically unchanging because they are based on timeless principles. When a person studies the leadership lessons from ancient Greece, Rome, and Jerusalem, he is struck by how soft skills of yesterday worked the same as they do today. That is to say, the art-side soft skills are timeless and relevant regardless of the profession one chooses, so long as it involves working with other people.

The third difference between the two skill sets is in how those skills are taught to others. Leaders can develop soft skills and even master them, but this doesn’t make it any easier to teach them to others. Unlike hard skills mastery, which can be taught in classrooms through memorization of rules and formulas, soft skills mastery must be learned in real-life experiences. In other words, hard skills can be learned in a classroom through instruction of the mind, but soft skills must be learned in life through instruction of the heart. Leadership mastery is rare because it is an art taught mostly through experience. It demands from leaders the ability to make decisions while juggling numerous initiatives, resources, and people to produce profitable results that honor the company and its people—not an easy assignment by any means and even more difficult to pass along to others.

Interestingly, today’s technological scientific age has not reduced the importance of soft skills but has, if anything, increased it. Nearly every company has impressive technology and brains, but only those with leadership apply the soft skills to adapt quickly. MIT Professor Peter Senge once wrote, “The only sustainable competitive advantage is an organization’s ability to learn faster than the competition.” Companies learn faster when leaders model and message soft skill development within their teams. The result is that more employees feel connected to the company, its leaders, and its vision, which means the organization will learn and change faster.

Not surprisingly, modern statistical research confirms the importance of soft skills. Google, in a study codenamed “Project Oxygen,” data-mined every performance review, feedback survey, and nomination for top-manager awards within the company. Google identified the eight most important skills for effective leadership and discovered that technical expertise ranked dead last out of the eight. Historically, Google’s management strategy was simple: leave the programmers alone, and when they needed help, they could reach out to their bosses, who were promoted based upon their mastery of technical skills. However, according to Laszlo Bock, Google’s Vice President of “Human Operations,” Project Oxygen changed their mindset. “In the Google context, we’d always believed that to be a manager, particularly on the engineering side, you need to be as deep or deeper a technical expert than the people who work for you,” Mr. Bock says. “It turns out that that’s absolutely the least important thing. It’s important, but pales in comparison. Much more important is just making that connection and being accessible.”

Google’s findings are not really new but merely confirm statistically what was previously known intuitively, namely, that everything rises and falls on leadership. In 1936, Dale Carnegie described what Google’s study revealed when he wrote, “. . . 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering—to personality and the ability to lead people.”

To be sure, hard skills are vital for professional competence, but if a person desires to climb within his profession, he must not neglect his leadership soft skills. For true leaders combine the science-side hard skills and the art-side soft skills to build leadership cultures of trust and influence. Simply put, leadership is the only sustainable competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.

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Russ & Rebecca Climie are known to be the best at helping other people reach into the toolbox of leadership to achieve something that matters.

They are famous for helping people live the lives they've always wanted, specifically those leaders who are driven to succeed in significant ways and are sick of the apathy, indifference and mediocrity they see all around them.
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