Looking At Things From All Angles

There are two brand new houses that have just completed the building phase around the corner and down the street from where I live.  As houses go, they are beautiful looking, huge and seem to be homes that almost anyone would love to call their own.

However, from the moment they started building them, everyone in the neighborhood I  talked to agreed that we had no idea why anyone would want to build a house on those two lots.  They’re right on the corner of an intersection that everyone in our neighborhood passes to get to our houses and they seem to be these two massive houses that will forever be plagued by the sounds of a major intersection since the main road is right on the side of the houses.   Why didn’t the prospective owners see what we had all been thinking about before they started building?

Then one day I made a wrong turn and ended up back tracking down this beautiful street that was lined with trees and passed the local school with open fields on the other side and it felt quiet and serene.

I was surprised when next thing I knew towards the end of that nice little road I was passing by the fronts of those two new houses.  I’ve never had to take that road before so in the 8 months I had been passing by that intersection wondering why they would build there, I now knew.  The experience of coming at the house location from a different perspective completely changed the impression I had.

If looking at a house from a different perspective can change a person’s thoughts on possibly buying it, what could the act of changing perspectives do for your current project, goals, friends, or next endeavor?

Matt Kane

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The Power Of The First Project

“People in new positions fail because they don’t have the network needed to do their new job”

During a recent social network analysis class (not the Facebook type of social network) we were breaking down how work actually gets done in organizations when the instructor stated the quote above.

The quote meant a lot for me because I had just started a new role and because I have led groups that had new people in it many times. Finding out why some people in new roles fail and others thrive seemed like it could be very powerful.

Relationships are key to being able to get work done in many organizations. A great way to set up success for someone starting in a new role then is to make sure that the first couple projects a person has to work on will increase the number of people they get to meet and start to build trust with in the new organization.

Maybe it’s not the most crucial project to the bottom line, but it could be the most crucial project to future success of the person you just hired, or yourself.

-Matt Kane

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The Danger of Hesitation

A couple months ago someone I respect in the digital marketing / entrepreneur world, Noah Kagan, created an opportunity to get to work with him and his mastermind group. It was to take place over a week, in a ridiculously awesome mansion in a beautiful location. It was a chance to take an idea or a business to an entire new level, while learning great new stuff in paradise.

All I had to do to participate was say yes and sign up.

For whatever reasons I told myself, I initially hesitated when presented with the opportunity. I figured I needed to think about it for a little bit just to make sure I could pull it off.

Really, I knew I could pull it off – it was only a week. If I’m being honest, it’s just that I was a bit intimidated by the opportunity and how I built it up in my head.

It was only a few hours from when I was given the opportunity to participate vs. when I went and tried to say yes that the opportunity had slipped away. In those few hours the last spots were taken.

Hearing from some of the people that went, it was an incredibly impactful experience. Had I not hesitated, I could have been there.

Now, I’m not saying you should jump at each and every opportunity or shiny new thing that comes along. But how many times did you know something was right, but you had something in your head that made you hesitate just a bit.

Learn to trust your intuition and reduce hesitation on what you know you should be doing.

I think this also relates to a quote I like that says “good leaders make decisions fast and change them slow.”

What’s a decision you’ve been hesitating on?

-Matt Kane

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On Choosing A Path

Ten years ago I was coming back from a business trip and found my self waiting at the baggage claim for the bags to start coming out. I had just spent 2 weeks inside an office in the beautiful mountains near Grenoble, France.

It was an overnight flight, so I was a little groggy when all of a sudden two paths for my life became instantly clear. It was like a fork in the road, with lights glaring at signs for both paths had appeared right there at baggage claim. Each of these paths were being represented by two distinct groups of people

The first path, to my left was represented by 2 men and a woman who were returning from the some major sporting event in Switzerland. They were waiting for their athletic equipment to come around the baggage carousel. They were in sneakers, athletic type wear and appeared to be in the best shape of almost anyone I had seen before. They appeared to be older in age, but looked better than most people I knew who might of been 20 years younger. They were animated while they talked and laughed and were playing off of each other’s energy and had a camaraderie that was so strong it was apparent from even 20 feet away where I stood.

The second path, on my right, was being represented by 3 gentlemen who, in my strong estimate, were returning from some type of corporate-y business meeting. They were waiting for their bags, while their heads were all down staring into their blackberries (this was so long ago it was when blackberries were just starting to be ubiquitous). They didn’t seem to want to talk to each other, they had slightly miserable scowls on their face. They seemed drained from the overnight flight. They had on these horrible 90’s type camel hair blazers on top of the standard corporate guy’s outfit of slacks and a blue button down shirt.

That’s when it hit me, without consciously choosing, I was more likely to end up down that path, vs. the first one.

I’m not even talking about the choice between being a top athlete vs. a Corporate person. I’m talking about the level of energy each group seemed to exhibit in their lives.

For years, I thought about having to choose between those two paths and used that story to talk about going towards one vs. the other. I know I didn’t want to end up the begrudged corporate miser staring at my blackberry (or iPhone) in a camel hair blazer, but I didn’t necessarily think it would be possible or even desire to train for the upper echelons of sport everyday, like I did for a period in college.

Not until very recently have I started to think “why not be both.” What would it look like to have endless energy and engagement and focus of a Olympic type athlete, but still engage in the work and opportunities of someone building a business?

What is the fork in the road that you’ve been thinking about for a while? Could you take the best parts of both and make something new? Don’t have one or the other, have it all.

-Matt Kane

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The Benefits of Serving Others

As I write this I’m sitting on the famous Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil about to go watch the World Cup Game of Spain v. Chile at the fan fest down the street. In a few days I’ll attend the Russia v. Belgium World Cup Match in Maracana Stadium in Rio. My trip here, my hotel on Copacabana beach and all the World Cup games were completely free for me. The only reason I am here is that 22 years ago I decided to join the Community Service Corps in my high school and it has impacted every part of my life ever since.

Doing things for others is what has given me everything I believe is great in my life.

Doing community service is the way I met my wife, is how I paid for my college, taught me almost everything I know about working with people, showed me elements of the world I would have never of seen, taught me countless life and day to day lessons, helped me appreciate what I have, and way too many other things to name. The lessons I learned helping others through community service are the lessons I use every day at work and at home. It’s even helped me learn how to organize a great party. Just to name a few more:

  • The skills I learned building homes for Habitat for Humanity help me fix things around my house, and recognize how lucky I am to even have a house.
  • The tactics it took to teach a group of kindergartners on a Navajo reservation are things I use to keep my kids engaged.
  • The organizing principles of fundraising and organizing I learned organizing Dorney Park trips in high school are what helped me start a non-profit group.
  • Starting a non-profit group has helped me learn what it takes to run a small company, and how to engineer programs that have sustainable impact not reliant on one person or funding source.

Marketing, finance, leadership, quality, human resources, creativity, innovation, sales, and just about every other ‘business-y’ skill you might want to develop in life has been presented as an opportunity to learn because of the different community service programs I’ve been involved in.

Most importantly, throughout all my experiences I believe I’ve learned to be incredibly grateful for what I have, to care for others, and realize that the world is a lot bigger than what I might see everyday.

Given all that helping others has taught me and others I know who do similar activities, I wonder why it’s not more popular. Why do more kids sign up for little league vs. girl or boy scouts. Why do more parents prefer their kids to be on the school’s sports team vs. the school’s community service group? Why do professional sports players make more than non-profit CEO’s?

And yes, I didn’t play many sports throughout my school years and do believe there are good qualities to being on those teams, but in comparing it to what I know about sports in terms of developing young people, I would say that community service is much more impactful. Yes, sports teaches many valuable lessons, but usually the opportunity to be involved with organized sports wanes after high school or college years. You can continue serve others forever.

Also, many people get involved with sports in the hopes that they, or their kids, will get some type of scholarship or end up on a professional sports team. Well, there’s only so many members of professional sports teams so your chances are pretty slim. However, there’s no limit to the number of people who could be doing something to change the world, so you have a great chance of being able to do that.

I’m thankful every time I think about how I got introduced to the idea of helping others. When I was just a little kid, I remember my mom getting calls some nights when a home in the area would catch fire or some other reason a family needed help. She volunteered for the Red Cross and she would help the families get back on their feet. I distinctly remember her telling me one particular time how she was trying to collect clothes (by taking some out of her closet) for some people who just lost all of theirs. I didn’t necessarily ‘do’ anything related to Community Service for a number of years after that, but having that type of role model is what led me to do the things that have built the rest of my life.

How will you be a role model for helping others? Where will it take you, and where will it take the person you influence?

As for now, I’m off to the beach to watch the game, I happened to win a contest at work that celebrated people who did caring acts for others and sent me here. Sure, the material type things that you can get out of doing acts of service are nice – like the random contest win – but the things it’s changed in me are worth a million times more.

Get involved. Go Serve.

Matt Kane

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How To Come Up With More Ideas

Coming up with more ideas is the same as achieving many other things. In fact, many of the underlying techniques of how to come up with more ideas are the same principles of what could have been in any of the following blog posts:

  • how to build bigger muscles
  • how to find your perfect mate
  • how to make one million dollars
  • how to lose weight
  • how to get a raise

It all boils down to: doing the ‘thing’ more.

In building biceps, it’s doing more barbell curls. In finding your perfect mate, it’s going on more dates.

For coming up with more ideas – it’s just about trying to come up with more ideas, more often. Just like your biceps, idea generation is a muscle. The more you use it and try, the better you get.

By the way: there are simple tools and techniques you can use, and I’ll explore those more in future posts, but the point is just trying. No one that is ‘great at generating ideas’ was born that way, they usually just tried coming up with ideas more.

-Matt Kane

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Top 10 Ways to Improve Panel Discussions at Conferences

Here are 10 proven ways to improve panel discussions at your next meeting or conference.  These are based off of years of diligent research.

  1. Don’t do them.
  2. If you already have one planned, cancel it.
  3. Repeat 1 & 2.
  4. Repeat 1 & 2
  5. Repeat 1 & 2
  6. Repeat 1 & 2
  7. Repeat 1 & 2
  8. Repeat 1 & 2
  9. Repeat 1 & 2
  10. Repeat 1 & 2

Following the list above will improve your next conference panel.  If you are being asked to be on a panel, ask for your own shorter time period instead.

-Matt Kane

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