Healthy Things Grow

As I am up with the my family on the farm where I grew up I am reminded of how healthy things grow and sick things die. On the farm healthy animals and crops grow. Sick ones don’t, and often die. It is the same in organizations isn’t it? Healthy people and organizations grow and sick ones get stagnant and even die.

When we take the time to water and cultivate relationships, ideas, and competencies growth is nearly certain. However, when we get complacent and careless, we start to shrivel. Many say, “The grass is greener on the other side”. The truth is it is greener where one tends to it. Tend to your relationships, clients and organizations daily and see great growth, and green pasture!

Caribou Coffee | Trusted Company of the Month

At every Caribou store, the employees are taught a basic acronym BAMA: Be excellent, not average; Act with urgency;Make a connection; Anticipate needs. In many places, especially in food services, this would be just another empty slogan in the company training video. But at Caribou, it’s much more than a simple mantra. It stands for a level of connection unmatched by their competition. And because they’ve earned the loyalty of their customers, the bottom line takes care of itself. Caribou’s sales have grown at a compound rate of about 22% since 2002 and their stores have expanded to almost 500 locations across the country. Caribou has earned the right to be named this month’s Trusted Company.

Harley Davidson | Trusted Company of the Month

August brings many things to mind but for motorcyclists it signifies Sturgis. This annual rally brings upwards of 400,000 people to the small town of Sturgis, South Dakota. Avid motorcyclists are loyal to their brands, especially Harley Davidson riders. Though the company suffered from a poor reputation and was even threatened with bankruptcy in the 1970’s, it was able to regain credibility through company restructuring and developed brand awareness. Today it is known for its loud exhaust and committed followers. Customers trust that the purchases of a “Hog” will deliver not only a quality motorcycle but also an invitation to the Harley culture. That’s why this month’s Trusted Company is Harley Davidson.  

Little Things, BIG Difference!

How does one make a lasting difference? By doing the little things consistently. James Garlow, in his book “Tested by Time” said, “If you don’t like who you have become it is because of the small seemingly insignificant decisions you have made over time. If you like who you have become it is because you have made thousands of seemingly little decisions well over the course of many years.”

To a large degree Garlow is right isn’t he? If I am a overweight it because I have had too many calories over time, not because I ate too much yesterday. If I am a good husband it is because I have loved, honored, respected and cared for my wife over time. It is not because I gave her diamonds and roses yesterday. Not that that wouldn’t help.

If I am a good leader I am continually doing the little things that share vision and care for my team. It is the little things that make the big difference. What are some little things that could change one’s life over time?

  1. Eat healthier ( has one good option for eating and exercize).
  2. Shut off the TV.
  3. Write one appreciation note a day to a client or coworker.
  4. Take 5 minutes to prioritize the day.
  5. Read good books.
  6. Spend some around wise people every week.

Keith Cunningham said, “Ordinary actions, consistently done, create extraordinary results.” Take a few minutes to list a little thing that would make a big difference in you physically, mentally, spiritually, at work, in relationships, and at home. Over time, you will see a significant impact.

Keep Learning

“Keep Learning” is a fitting theme as I enter the world of blogdom. Why are some people so fresh and vibrant and able to deal with change? One reason, they keep learning. They never fall into the trap of thinking they know it all. My dad is 78 now. At 74 he received his private pilot’s license and at age 75 he played his first musical instrument. One of the reason’s his farm was successful through the 80’s when many farms were going under was his ability to change, learn, and diversify. His mother was known for reading a book a day and she read every book in two libraries. While I am grateful for this legacy, I see how I must be intentional if I am going to continue it.

The worst sales people are “Know-it-alls”. The best leaders are learners. Peter Vaill, in his book “Learning as a way of Being” points out the most important competency to today is not technical but rather the ability, humility, and desire to keep on learning. In this fast-paced culture we must develop the priority and system to keep learning. One learns very little by watching TV. What are a few simple ideas to keep learning:

  1. Turn your car into a university by listening to podcasts and CDs while driving.
  2. Intentionally read every day – books and articles are likely better than just the newspaper.
  3. Find a Mentor. Brian Foote said, “The key to success is having a mentor.” I have had mentors for speaking, leadership, Real Estate, and faith. Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY!
  4. Be observant.
  5. Reflect. Get away. Process. Great learning occurs in times of reflection of every day experience.

One thought to remember; the goal is not to learn everything – it can’t happen in this world of rapid change. The freshness that comes with just learning and continually learning how to learn is the goal. In this world of change I want to hire people that know how to learn because what I need them to do tomorrow not in the MBA text book today.

Keeping on learning,

Dave Horsager

35W Bridge and Leadership

My wife Lisa and I visited the site of the 35W bridge collapse last evening. Being there and seeing it was an awe-filled experience. We have traveled the bridge countless times. Certainly it is a tradgedy for many, especially for the family and friends who lost loved ones. Currently much research is being done on “why” the bridge failed.

One of the main theories of why the bridge collapsed is that the center connecter plates or gusset plates were cracked. Thus, they were no longer able to do their job of holding the steel beams together. However, it wasn’t that no one knew they were weak. Investigations and documents of the cracking and instabilities were reported. The problem is that the feedback was not taken seriously.

Many leaders have the same problem. They are unwilling to seek or accept feedback that would help them be stronger. Arrogance, pride, defensiveness, and embaressment often stand in the way of finding and taking feedback that could help a leader be stronger. Without accountablility and feedback we often lose our foundation. Seeking and acknowledging feedback, and then taking steps to improve, might keep you and I from personal and organizational disaster. What are some ways to get needed feedback?

1. Develop an accountability group that genuinely wants the best for each other. Ask tough questions, then listen.
2. Use a good 360 degree feedback survey. (email for recommendations)
3. Ask co-workers, supervisors, clients, and even your spouse how you might serve them better.
4. Become sensative and aware of how you communicate. Become a student of interpersonal communication and empathy.

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