10 Feb

Atrendia Friday Video 38: Two reasons companies fail and how to avoid them

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In this TED talk Knut Haanaes aims to explain the difference between “exploiting” thinking and “exploratory” thinking and how you must strike a balance between the two in order to run a successful business. Ending his talk, he lays out four suggestions to have not only a better professional life, but also a better personal one.

Duration: 11:00

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program.

Click HERE to watch the video.

Happy Friday!


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09 Feb

The How of Heart

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Sharon-Drew Morgen

Collaboration. Empowerment. Win/Win. Integrity. Authenticity. We’re finally recognizing the efficacy of acting with humanitarian values! But how do we DO it? How do we know when, or if, to change our comfortable communication patterns? How do we modify any unconscious behaviors to make new habitual choices and recognize when what we’re doing no longer is sufficient?


DOing kindness, collaboration, and authenticity isn’t as easy as wishing it to happen. It takes a change in our behaviors; it means we have to change our habits and status quo. And that means we must do more than merely knowing we ‘should’. The problem is that our behaviors occur unconsciously and systemically, and won’t necessary accede to our desire to change. Here’s how it happens.

Our brains unconsciously choose our behaviors from our cache of lifelong subjective experience, values, and unconscious rules that forms our unique status quo. I call this our system – a well-oiled machine that keeps us ticking congruently every moment of the day. Our viewpoints, our styles, our behaviors are all pre-determined and habitual, and represent us consistently so we maintain our individual, unique systems (Systems Congruence) according to our own personal rules. I realize we all think we have unrestricted choice; we don’t. We follow our personal ‘company line’ in every action, every communication. We remain who we are in everything we do.

The problem arises when we wish to do anything different: our unconscious system will resist anything new because it is seen as a threat even if it’s something we’re nominally in agreement with. For any change to occur, our brains must first align the new with the old/habitual so we remain congruent. We know we should go to the gym more often, or eat healthy; we know we should allow our relatives to have disparate political viewpoints. But try as we might, we hard-pressed to permanently change our behaviors. This is the problem with conventional training and Self-Help books. We cannot change just because we seem to want to.

Why can’t we just DO something different? Because before we do, we must figure out a way to bring in the ‘new’ in a way that garners buy-in from the rest of our system so we can continue to be congruent. It’s a belief issue, not merely a behavior change problem. And our behaviors are merely the action, the outward manifestation, of our beliefs. The 400-pound man walking down the street will not heed an offer of a half-priced gym membership – not because he hasn’t looked in the mirror lately or because he’s ignoring his doctor’s warnings, but because his eating and lack of exercise are habitual and match the rules he’s already got in place: to make a permanent change, he’d have to ‘chunk up’ as they say in NLP, and go beyond the ‘What’ or the ‘Why’ to change his beliefs about who he is. He’d have to become a healthy person.

‘What’ to do is behavioral. ‘How’ is structural, systemic, and unconscious. Here’s an example of the difference: ZDNet has an article on transforming an organization on the principles of collaboration. They say it’s necessary to “Empower staff”: “To accomplish this goal it is important to train, support, and mentor staff to help them work more collaboratively. Staff must also practice their new collaboration skills back in the workplace so it becomes the new daily business and not just the latest management fad.”

Great. But HOW does one accomplish this? Everyone will interpret these words subjectively, according to their own beliefs about their skills. Obviously there can’t be organization-wide consistent adoption with just the What; information doesn’t cause change, and ‘What’ doesn’t address how to reconfigure our brain’s automatic choices. ‘How’ demands that we

  • add automatic unconscious choices to our habitual behaviors to comply with our new goals;
  • recognize the difference between what we think we’re doing and what we’re actually doing and notice there is a gap that prevents excellence;
  • install the change we seek without offending what’s been working well;
  • facilitate internal systemic buy-in to ensure our Status Quo is ready and able to change;
  • override habitual behavior choices and replace them with the new as appropriate;
  • maintain systems congruence.

It’s far more complicated than just understanding What to Do. It’s actually How to Be.


The problem with seeking to act with authenticity or empowerment, etc., is that we attempt to make behavioral changes without shifting the underlying system that holds our current behavioral choices in place. To enact any internal changes, to take on new habits or change behaviors, we must shift our core Identities and Beliefs, with new Behaviors the enactment of these shifts.

All of us have unique Identities; our Beliefs are the operating manuals; our Behaviors exhibit our Beliefs in action. Every day, in every way, we ACT who we ARE. I, for one, work out at the gym 9 hours a week. I hate it. But because I have determined that I AM a Healthy Person, I need my Behaviors to carry out my Identity accordingly: I eat healthy, exercise, and meditate. And on the days I would prefer to stay in bed, I ask myself if I’m a Healthy Person today and almost always, get my lazy self up and go to the gym.

This dependence on our Identities and Beliefs is foundational: we will do nothing – nothing – unless there is buy-in. When anything seeks to change us – when we receive training, or get told to ‘do’ something, or when coaches ‘suggest’ or sellers ‘recommend’ or leaders promote a new change – it shows up as a threat and will be resisted unless it’s accepted and adopted by our Identity and given a value set in our Beliefs. Once we ARE the change we seek, our new Behaviors will be natural and permanent.

To act with compassion, to have empathy, to lead with values, to design collaborative environments, we need a set of core Beliefs (I am a Kind Person; I Care About Collaboration With Colleagues) that get translated into new habitual choices; we need to inform our system to match the Doing to the new Being. We cannot congruently act the Doing if it’s incongruent with our Identity. It’s the most difficult aspect of change – creating consistent, habitual actions – because it’s unconscious, systemic, and resistant. It is possible, however, but not simple.

Working, speaking, acting with Heart is not behavioral. We must first Be the people with heart; Be kind, collaborative, authentic people. Organizations need to shift their corporate identities and manage behavioral adoption; we must become Servant Leaders and compassionate Leaders. We just need the Skills of How to accomplish this.

I’ve spent my life coding and designing models that create habitual, unconscious change. Although my work often shows up in the field of sales, it’s a generic model that is used by leaders, coaches, managers, doctors, and teachers, to lead Others (buyers, patients, clients, employees) through the necessary changes to shift their status quo congruently and embrace real change; it’s the ‘How’ of Excellence. After 35 years of teaching this material, I’m well aware of how difficult real change is. But if we begin by aspiring to Collaboration, Integrity, and Authenticity, we can become the change we seek.


Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions. More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512 457 0246. www.didihearyou.comwww.sharondrewmorgen.com


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07 Feb

Want stability in your organization? Move fast. No. Even faster.

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In his book, Thanks For Being Late, Thomas L. Friedman recounts the advice from an Olympic Kayak medalist: To enhance stability in rapids it’s important to move as fast or faster than the current. Every time you rudder or drag your paddle in the water to steer you lose momentum and that makes you more vulnerable to flipping over.

This should be a warning for leaders who believe that they take the safe route when they choose a wait-and-see-attitude when things heat up. I am not promoting that we jump on every band wagon traversing the horizon, and if you know anything about me, you know I’m a plan freak, but keeping up with technology is becoming the single most important competitive edge for companies of any size. When I say keeping up with technology, I include upgrading tools, but it’s the mindset of expecting, managing, and even pushing for even faster change, that I am addressing here.

How often are projects put on hold while you implement the reorg; the new ERP system; the migration to Office 365; the latest acquisition? Stressed? Think about this: If Moore’s Law doesn’t care about your need to find islands of time to get settled in the “new environment” now, how do you think it will feel like in five years or ten? Now imagine that things will change more in the next ten years than they have in the past forty. For many, that’s a reasonable assumption.

The new environment is: move fast now. Ironically, it’s also the old environment. Heraclitus, in about 500 BC. commented, The only constant is change. And so it goes.

But it’s different now. Change is happening so rapidly that we must scrupulously re-examine and adjust our companies’ cultures to not fall into the trap of promoting the idea that change comes in the form of projects; little packages that are neatly planned, executed and integrated. Instead, we should be heralding in a new age of permanent flow. Actually, flow sounds too relaxed. Tsunami?

We still, and forever — mark my words, will need priorities and deadlines, but as technology propels us at greater and greater breakneck speeds, it will become increasingly important that individuals are given more responsibility for judgement and decision making. Steering from the top, as one president will soon learn, is over. An organization fighting to navigate rough waters by attempting to go against nature will, like a kayak, flip over because the uncontrollable flow of technology runs too quickly to navigate top down and trying to slow it or ignore it, as the case may be, only creates instability.

To compensate, organizations will need to better communicate goals and objectives at much faster velocities. More than ever, connecting with company values (not the ones on the wall, but the ones that are supported and referred to on a regular basis in all parts of the organization) will need a resurgence and its function raised to a higher status than is usually the case.

This requires us to not only upgrade communication tools, but also educate and support the soft skills that all too often take a beating around budget time.

What does this mean from a practical standpoint? It means that if you haven’t mapped out your workflows to enable rapid continuous improvements; if you are not becoming flatter as an organization to shorten the distance between the leadership and the ground forces; if you continue to do massive reorgs (waterfall) instead of continuously adjusting (agile); and if you keep pushing off projects based on what your organization can absorb instead of making projects more absorbable, your kayak is going to flip.

We used to say, Embrace change. Today it’s: Don’t stop to embrace change.  The mindset, therefore, should be: Paddle faster when the flow is going too fast. Counterintuitive? Not really. As long as you’ve got a value-based culture, capable direction, great teams, continuous improvement, and your eye on the customer, you’ll still be paddling because inertia will be on your side. The alternative is much worse.

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27 Jan

Atrendia Friday Video 37: How to start a movement

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Derek Sivers, in this humorous short TED talk video, aims to explain how movements begin, and especially how leaders should treat and cultivate their first few followers.

Duration: 3:02

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program.

Click HERE to watch the video.

Happy Friday!


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25 Jan

Too much information? No. Too little intention.

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To understand how and why we experience information overload we need to recognize that the main reason we collect information is to influence ourselves and others. Not entirely unrelated is the fact that one of the most important factors in attaining happiness is having influence over others. Without it we lose our raison d’être. This is also essentially the driver for technology. Edison and the countless others who pursued the invention of the light bulb, for example, did so not to illuminate dark rooms, but to enable people to do things at night that they could not or could less easily do before. In other words, the interest of the inventor is to change or improve behavior – to influence.

The actual volume of information is completely irrelevant; therefore, complaining that there is too much information, or not being able to find relevant information only serves to underline one’s misconception of information overload. It is not that there is too much information or too much coming at us; instead, it is how we attract and control the information, and ultimately how easily we feel that we can influence others with the use of this information that determines whether we feel overloaded or not.

Whether there are ten billion terabytes of data available to you on Monday, and a billion times that on Tuesday is inconsequential to you as an individual. Trying to categorize things or color code them is far too daunting a task, and profiling (I liked these books, therefore there is a 92% chance that I will like these others) is a step in the right direction, but it is far too flat and one-dimensional to rely upon. For example, I often buy a business books through Amazon, and once I bought some kitchen utensils for my sister, so my recommendations are always about business literature and cooking items – and almost equally so. If you knew me as a person you would see how poorly this kind of profiling addresses my needs because the influencers are monochromatic.

The point is that in our efforts to attract and control information, our focus should be on the customer, whether that is an actual customer, your spouse, your children, friends or whomever you are trying to influence in your life – even yourself. Once you are deliberate and clear in your intention, you will attract the right information and filter out the waste. So rather than focusing on the mechanism (the tool that we think will solve all our problems, the rating system, the color coding, etc.) we need to turn our attention to our intention.

Getting too many e-mails is essentially a problem of filtering (reduction of spam) and magnetism (you attract mails from people because they believe you are either interested in what they have to say) or because you can help them solve their problems (in order to influence others). Once you have a good spam and pseudo-spam filter and have broadcast your intentions clearly, i.e. “I don’t ever respond to Cc: mail”, or clarified your intentions as a company by strengthening core values, much of that noise goes away.  The rest should be handled systematically instead of cherry picking, but that is the story for another day.

The more generalized your attraction to information is (subscribing to blogs, on-line magazines, RSS feeds etc. because you want to stay abreast of current trends), the more diffuse your experience of that information is and the more ambivalent and targeted you become. Likewise, the more precise you are in proactively searching for relevant information based on clear intention, the less you need to reactively filter. It is not a technological problem – it is YOUR problem. Once you recognize that, instead of waiting for the magic tool, you will stop feeling overloaded.

In the end, your intention determines the scope of your war on information overload. Generalists will be deluged with the cacophony of nonformation and expert influencers will not be distracted by the noise. It is a choice, not a tool or technique.

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13 Jan

Atrendia Friday Video 36: Why good leaders make you feel safe

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In this TED talk video, Simon Sinek tries to connect how military leaders are willing to sacrifice themselves for their subordinates but how ordinary business leaders are not known for this quality. In a compelling way, he explores how leaders should prioritize its people, not the financials.

Duration: 11:59

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program.

Click HERE to watch the video.

Happy Friday!


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08 Jul

The Problem with Millennials …. Is that there isn’t one

by Todd Brink

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“Where are you?” I asked into the phone.

“I’m at home”, replied my millennial employee (we’ll call him Jed).

“But it’s two o’clock in the afternoon…  Why are you home?” I asked, astonished. During my first job I would NEVER have left early, or even thought about it for one second.

“I finished my work on my list. So I left,” Jed answered.

“Just because you completed your list, doesn’t mean you get to go home.  There is always more to be done, including educating yourself on our industry and our particular business.  If you find yourself with nothing left on your list, find me and we’ll figure out what you should work on next.”

Jed and I were now clear.  I thought this situation had been handled, until the next morning when I came into work.  Jed had left me a little something on my chair.  It was an article, entitled Why Millennials Value Their Free Time. 

I calmly walked into Jed’s office, stood squarely in front of his desk and said,  “Jed buddy, I saw the article you left me.  We all value our free time. Millennial or not.  I just need you to know Millennials aren’t special.”

This happened 10 years ago, but has stuck with me throughout my career as companies struggle to deal with Millennials, treating them as if they are an exotic pet, that has very specific handling instructions.

Notice, I didn’t come into his office and call him lazy and selfish.  Instead of bashing him or labeling his work ethic in reply to his subtle, yet somewhat bold way of informing me of his values and priorities as a Millennial, I chose to do something different. After informing him that Millennials weren’t special, I asked him a simple question:

“Have you ever had downtime on a job before?”  

His answer?  “Not really.”

Jed literally didn’t know that he was expected to keep busy, or that he was both allowed and encouraged to self-educate.  Keeping yourself busy without someone guiding you was a foreign concept to him. He didn’t even realize that most people were being promoted for not only how they accomplish their day to day tasks, but for how they accomplished tasks that were not on their “lists”.  Things that were normally not “theirs”.

Rather, promotions were based on how one chose to constructively fill their time.

How does this come to be a problem for any person, let alone a company? Millennial, or not?  I mean, I knew how to “work” and what was expected of me (as well as everyone else at the company) while being paid at a job since I was 12.  I was a Paper Boy.  Back in the days when kids (mostly boys) delivered newspapers door to door.  Yes, I’m that old….  Most of the past generations all had jobs starting at 12 or 14 (or earlier!) that taught us through experience the basics – building a foundation of expectations. Heck, when you were a Paper Boy you were basically a sub-contractor, to the newspaper company, running your own small business.

My first thought was, I should sit this young man down and explain to him what the expectations are, for having a “real” job. Not like the job of doing homework or odd tasks in his parents home that he probably only has been accustomed to.  Tediously explain in detail to Jed every single thing that contributes to having a “real” job.  Things like we start and leave at certain set hours, lunch should be 60 min at most, balancing the checkbook should be done at home and not at work as it is a personal task and not one the company should be paying you to do, and on and on and on. However I quickly stopped my train of thought, realizing this line of thinking wouldn’t solve anything.  All it would do is put a wall up between Jed and I, of the Great Wall of China type proportions. I needed to figure out what the exact problem was I would be trying to solve.

The problem wasn’t that he was a Millennial, the problem was he had no foundation of knowledge or previous experience for what was expected at both the work place and of him personally as a contributing, paid employee.

See this is when problem solving gets tricky.  It’s easy to simply look at the results of something and react to it, like just telling Jed that he was lazy and needed to grow up. Telling him that this is not how we work around here, and he better shape up or ship out – go find another place to work.  But that would have been incredibly disrespectful to a long list of entities; Jed, myself, the role the company had put me in, and the company itself.


On the flip side I could have told Jed, “I’ve read the article you left me and you’re right.  Free time is incredibly important.  We should, and will, do away with the standard 8 or 9 hour work day if that will make you and your co-workers happy.  You can leave anytime your work is done for the day.  Be it 2 hours, or 15 hours, as soon as your list is clear – go enjoy!”  However, that also would have been hugely disrespectful to Jed, myself, the roles both he and I were in, as well as the company.

Unfortunately, these are the predominant ways companies are dealing with the “Millennial Problem” as it being referred to. Either they try to change the employee with commanding and controlling techniques, or they go the other way and change how their companies are run to meet the “needs” of Millennials (I’m looking right at you Google, Facebook, and GE). Neither one of these go-to approaches actually solves the “problem”.  In fact, I believe they make the problem worse.

I’ll say it flat out, Millennials are not lazy as a group, or as a generation.

They simply grew up with a different set of expectations and a different set of standards then the GenXers or Baby Boomers did.  They are not lazier.  They are not more entitled.  They are not more of a special exotic pet than previous generational groups.

Everyone that is out there charging $25,000 in consulting fees telling businesses what they can do to attract and keep Millennials is doing the business world, and the young people entering the work force, a huge disservice.

Millennials are no different then us…..they are us. We just grew up differently. They just grew up differently. Millennials aren’t the problem.

According to The Fiscal Times, one of the “problems” however is this:

“Nearly three-quarters of hiring managers complain that millennials – even those with college degrees – aren’t prepared for the job market and lack an adequate “work ethic”

See Todd! This proves they are lazy!!!

Well no, no it doesn’t.

Then it proves our colleges and high schools stink!! Students should learn what a work ethic is while attending college and high school!

Well no, actually they shouldn’t. The job of colleges and high schools, in my opinion, is to educate students. Not train students on how to work, or what is expected of them at the work place. Claiming that because college graduates lack a work ethic, it has to be a college or University’s fault, is both reactionary and simple minded.

So then hotshot, what is wrong with Millennials?

Nothing is wrong with Millennials. 

The reason Millennials lack “work ethic” is not because they are lazy, far from it. It is because they lack experience.  Real life, real job, real workforce experience. 

For a high number of millennials today, the job they secure out of college is the first “real” job they have ever had — beyond baby sitting, home chores, internships etc.  Let me be clear here, this is not to say all Millennials lack this experience, but it is true for an overwhelming number of them (studies disagree with the exact numbers mainly because of the staggering amount of Millennials entering the work force which increases every year – estimates range from as low as 35% to as high as 70%).

Since the “real” job after college is their first job, they simply don’t know what to expect from the work experience.  The only real exposure to business they have known is seeing their parents go to and from work (which many of them are now working from the home place), TV / Movies, and business books.  None of which accurately depicts what happens at work, and just how mundane / routine quite a bit of the work day is.  Most GenXer’s had their first job between the ages of 12 and 17.  Again, I’m in that generation.  We had paper routes, worked at McDonalds, worked at grocery stores, and were happy to have a job so that we could earn money to own and do the things we wanted to.  I had friends that picked corn from July to the end of August for 9 hours a day in the blazing sun.

My point is, we developed work ethics by working. There were a ton of opportunities to work, and we picked one.

The Millennials do not have the same opportunities as older generations did. Education and going to college still are the measures of success, but more recently there were more extra curricular activity options available.  Time for work has became less and less.  Even if Millennials did have a job while in school, the total hours per week they work are typically 9-12, instead of the 20-30 hours a week my friends and I worked.

Now this isn’t a bad thing or a good thing. It’s just a thing. It’s not a “Millenial Problem”.

Although the majority of Millennials weren’t working at a “real” job, they were learning. They’re great students, and probably the most ”book smart” generation we have ever had. Business should capitalize on this and use it to their advantage.  As of yet though, they haven’t. Instead businesses are trying to bully them into model employees of their generations, or changing policy to fit “Millennial demands.” Businesses should instead take the time to coach and lay out expectations for their new employees, Millennial or not.

I have had great success in sitting down with Millennials (one-on-one or in a peer group) by simply asking and answering questions about why things are the way they are and what exactly is expected of them. Here is an example:

Most GenXer’s had two or three graduation ceremonies in their life – 8th grade or middle school, high school, and college. Millennials had or will have at least five to seven in their life – Daycare, Pre-School, Kindergarten, Middle School, High School, College.  Now factor in any clubs or sports they may belong to (dancing, scouts, Tae Kwon Do, etc…) and that number grows.

The point is, we trained Millennials to expect a graduation or promotion every few years (and a celebration to go with it!) for just going to class, and now we wonder why they expect to be promoted every few years?

Instead we should be explaining that most promotions depend on three things: how the employee performs on their expected work, how they work beyond their job description, and if there is an opening for them to move up into.  When I discuss this with Millennials I coach, while they may not like what I am telling them, they certainly understand it.  Usually the next conversation is “What then do I have to do to get promoted?” And right then and there we create something measurable that the employee can grab on too.  This, in my mind, is treating the employee with respect.  And in-turn, the employee learns to respect the company.

I do need to bring up how, sadly instead of setting proper expectations and helping build a foundation of understanding (to help make up for lack of experience), Businesses instead decide to create “Junior”, “Associate”, “Assistant”, “Coordinator” – types of promotion positions that aren’t anything more than a title that goes on a business card.  Its a warm and fuzzy for the employee, at least until the employees asks, ‘So what does this mean?’  To which a good answer never follows.

So, can we ALL stop blaming Millennials for who and how they are? They are struggling through the same stuff everyone does as they begin to join the working world.  Charged with figuring out protocols and expectations.  The ONLY difference is that their working experiences are not as extensive or comprehensive as the Boomers or GenXers. That isn’t their fault.  It is ours.

Ultimately it is your job to make your co-workers and employees succeed. So take a look at what the problem is, what it is that needs to be solved, and stop trying to change the results. Understand what role you play in helping create the problem.  Then, step up, and help coach your co-workers and employees through the problem.

After all… that is what leadership is all about, isn’t it?

Todd Brink is the president/owner of Lean Culture Group, LLCauthor, and internationally known speaker on various topics including work culture, process and personal improvement, and strategic planning.

Lean Culture Group, LLC helps organizations grow and improve the bottom line. Lean Culture Group will help you achieve all your goals through the creation of an innovative culture. Key focus areas include: systematic problem-solving, strategic planning, employee development and one-on-one mentoring. For more information on how Todd can help you begin or raise your current improvement program to the next level.  Please email him at todd.brink@leanculturegroup.com or call him at 262-432-8010.

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29 Jun

DOing vs. BEing: creating rules that put customers first

by Sharon Drew Morgen

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Sharon-Drew MorgenI recently purchased dysfunctional products/services from three vendors who were unwilling to go outside company rules to fix the problems they caused. How can we take part in the Trust Economy if our corporate rules preclude us from taking care of customers? Too often there’s a divergence between company rules and customer needs. I’ll use my vendor issues as a starting point:

  1. Wheaton International Movers. After researching a big cross-country move, I picked Wheaton. But it was a nightmare: their driver was drunk on both ends of the move; boxes were lost; an expensive sculpture was broken by their packer. Getting reimbursed was a 4-month nightmare: I was ignored, lied to, and finally only paid a fraction of what I deserved even though they accepted responsibility. I was regularly told: “Well, unfortunately Ms. Morgen, that would go against our rules.” No one ever apologized; I’m still missing a favorite painting and important office paperwork; my sculpture is gone.
  2. CVS online pharmacy. These folks sent a bottle with crushed pills. I fought for weeks to get the pills replaced but I was told I should send them the offending bottle first (the post office is in a different town). “I understand your concern, but we must operate according to company rules.” Rules before my health?
  3. Fitbit.  I purchased a broken Fitbit from an online vendor. Fitbit said they’d send a replacement I never received; the replacement from the online vendor was also broken. Reps at Fitbit actually said they received hundreds of calls a day about the problem but weren’t allowed to do anything about it until their ‘fix’ was ready. What?

As a consumer, I trust I’ll receive what I pay for, and be cared for if there’s a problem. Yet each company above took care of their rules before taking care of me. They put the DOing before the BEing.


When companies construct internal rules that are juxtaposed with customer needs they ignore the consequences

  • Without customers, there’s no need for rules.
  • Customer’s complaints go viral.
  • Hurting, cheating, disregarding, and ignoring customers always, always loses business.
  • For each customer who doesn’t feel fairly treated, companies lose unknown-hundreds of prospective clients for an uncertain time moving forward.

Too often companies confuse their rules [the DOing – regulations, results, performance] with a customer’s needs [the BEing – values, feelings, requirements]. Too many companies make it binary – company rules OR customer criteria – rather than Both/And. How do we design customer service scripts and training, how do we instill a primary focus on serving customers, to achieve Both/And and win/win?

The difference between DOing and BEing is Heart – heart, being one of those ‘soft’ ‘feminine’ words that assumes it’s not possible to make money and make nice (While training Buying Facilitation® at Morgan Stanley I heard they were conducting ‘closing’ training the following week. What? Why do you need both training programs? “Because BF is ‘soft’ and we need ‘hard’ skills to close.”). Isn’t it time to meld heart and head and DO-BE-DO-BE-DO? To make money AND make nice? All research shows the BEing is more profitable.


There’s a way to put customers first AND take care of corporate rules. A few examples:

  1. Use an impossible customer request as a means to create a life-long partner.

“I hear you’d prefer if we were able to X. Unfortunately we aren’t able to do that, but we want you to be happy. Is there anything else I can do to get you what you deserve? Let’s see if we can get creative.”

Years ago while working with Bethlehem Steel during a trucker’s strike, I had my clients actually purchase steel retail from Pittsburg Steel to make sure Mazda wouldn’t have expensive downtime. We took the hit on cost to keep the customer happy. Well – to keep the customer!

  1. Use customer’s feelings to exhibit your dedication to them. During month 4 of my Wheaton ordeal, someone said “If you don’t stop shouting I’ll hang up on you!”  Seriously? The rep should have been taught to grow a pair and not take it personally:

“Wow. Sounds like you’re really upset. I can imagine how annoyed you must be. I’m so sorry.”

  1. Make sure each Rep owns the problem. Nothing makes customers more angry than having to call back again and again (and be on hold forever) to find someone to help them, or having to repeat repeat repeat the same complaint to each new Rep. Assign the first Rep to own the problem to resolution.


To operate effectively in this new world of connection, workarounds, visibility and competition, your main differentiator may be how you take care of employees and customers.

  1. Design company rules that put customers first. So, instead of ‘Send us the damaged pills first [so we can fix any internal problems here]’ it would be, “That prescription is important to your health. I’ll send you an entirely new bottle and include a return mailer so you can send the bad ones back at your convenience. I’m sorry.”
  2. Trust that customers aren’t your enemies: they pay your bills.
  3. If you broke it, it’s yours. If you send a bad bottle of pills, a bad Fitbit (twice), or break a sculpture, fix it easily. Don’t take your costs out on the customer.
  4. Make sure that every customer is happy by the end of each interaction. An unhappy, screaming customer cannot be passed on.
  5. Create a vision statement that includes the words ‘Customer Service’. So: We are a Customer Service company that designs CRM software.
  6. Employees are customers. Happy employees take care of customers. I’ve never heard of a company that’s loving, kind, and respectful to their employees and mean to their customers. It’s that BEing thing again. I want to share a story that embodies the Truth of this.

Years ago a client sent a new employee to one of my Buying Facilitation® public training programs to get him caught up with the team I already trained in-house. This man, call him Glen, was angry, rude, mean, and dismissive of everyone around him. I called my client: Who is this mean person? He’s making everyone cry. Why did you hire him? “Do whatever you have to do to break him. I hired him because he’s got potential.” So I went into action on Day 2 and facilitated Glen through the outcomes he was causing. On Day 3 he came to class like a saint – supportive of others, kind, gentle, fun. What happened? Here’s what he said:

Every day, I’ve had to leave my house for work and put my ‘mean’ suit on. I was told I had to convince prospects, push closes, bias discussions about our products to promote a sale. I hated it: I had to shift my personality to ‘Do’ this manipulative, insensitive person. I told myself I had to become a shark. I’ve been miserable and my family has suffered; I didn’t know any other way to keep my job except to follow their rules and be miserable. Now I’m learning it’s possible to make money AND make nice; now I can be my real self and do my job successfully.

As a testament to his change, he got a huge – huge – tattoo of a shark on his back the evening he had his realization. He came to class the next day with the tattoo stating “I’ve put the shark behind me.”

To determine if you need to rethink your rules, to be part of the Trust Economy, consider these questions:

How will you know that the rules you have in place are customer-centric? If you need several layers of customer service to handle angry customers, or you regularly read negative Tweets or Yelp comments about you, there’s a problem.

How can you tell if you’re putting employees first? High turnover might be an indication.

How often do customer problems get escalated? Have you trained every level of staff to seek win/win results?

If you put people first, how would your rules change? And what beliefs would you need to reconsider?

What skills do employees have to achieve win/win when a problem occurs? Remember the mythical customer service rule Nordstrom was famous for? “Use your best judgment.” Of course that changes your hiring criteria. So be it.

I realize regulations are necessary to run a company. But so are customers. It’s possible to do the DOing and the BEing in a way that promotes income and care. What’s stopping you?


Sharon Drew Morgen is the NYTimes Business Bestselling author of Selling with Integrity and 7 books how buyers buy. She is the developer of Buying Facilitation® a decision facilitation model used with sales to help buyers facilitate pre-sales buying decision issues. She is a sales visionary who coined the terms Helping Buyers Buy, Buy Cycle, Buying Decision Patterns, Buy Path in 1985, and has been working with sales/marketing for 30 years to influence buying decisions. More recently, Morgen is the author of What? Did you really say what I think I heard? in which she has coded how we can hear others without bias or misunderstanding, and why there is a gap between what’s said and what’s heard. She is a trainer, consultant, speaker, and inventor, interested in integrity in all business communication. Her learning tools can be purchased: www.didihearyou.com. She can be reached at sharondrew@sharondrewmorgen.com 512 457 0246. www.didihearyou.comwww.sharondrewmorgen.com


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03 Jun

Atrendia Friday Video 35: How do Lobsters grow?

by Rabbi dr. Abraham

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Rabbi Dr. Abraham’s lobster video is a great lesson to us in a compact 90 seconds. The lesson: Times of stress are also times that are signals for growth.

Feeling stressed? Perhaps it’s time for positive change.

Duration: 01:56

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program.

Click HERE to watch the video.

Happy Friday!

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11 Mar

Atrendia Friday Video 34

Navy SEALs give us the key to leadership excellence

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This was an unexpected source of inspiration for me and perhaps the shortest Friday video ever, but definitely worth a quick view. Less than two minutes.

Duration: 01:56

Find out more about our Executive Leadership Coaching Program.

Click HERE to watch the video.

Happy Friday!

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