Building a Team – 4 Tips to Build Your Dream Team
Great teams just don't happen magically, though. Building a team takes hard work and commitment, but there are some things you can do to make it easier.

Building a Team – 4 Tips to Build Your Dream Team

The great thing about being a leader is all the great people on our teams. Great teams just don’t happen magically, though. Building a team takes hard work and commitment, but there are some things you can do to make it easier. In the military, we very rarely had the same people on a team from beginning to end. People were always moving in and out or getting reassigned. We were always in a mode of developing talent on our team and building our leadership capacity on those teams. Hopefully, you have a little bit more stability on your team. The tips in this post tips should help you build your team, whether you’re starting a new team for a brand new project, bringing new members to an existing team, or looking to do a little bit of development and training with your current team members.

Building a Team Tip #1 – Assess Your Needs

First and foremost, assess the needs of your team. Your needs could be skills, experience or knowledge. This is helpful if you’ve already got an existing team and you need to bring in a new member. We don’t always get to choose the members of our team, but if you do, look at the skills you need on your team. Find someone who’s got that skill set or at least some of those skills. If you can’t find someone with exactly the skill set you need, don’t worry about it. Find someone who has most of what you need.  Develop the rest of the skills in them or in another team member.

Building a Team Tip #2 – Find People Who Complement You

When looking for people for your team, find people who complement you and the other members of your team. Look for people who complement you in areas you’re not as strong, as well as areas where you complement them. This relates not just to technical skills, knowledge, and experience as mentioned above, but also personality, attitudes, and behaviors. If you’re not really a people person, you might want someone on your team who is a little warmer and personable to help make people feel more welcome.  Build your team with people who complement each other so that you’re all working as a team and providing all the support that everybody needs

Building a Team Tip #3 – Think About Culture

Think about the culture you want on your team and to bring in people who match that culture. If you’re a startup there will probably be a lot of late nights. Your team might be jumping on a plane at the last-minute, so bring in people who are going to be comfortable with that unpredictability. If you’re in a bigger organization that prides itself on excellence, being thorough and discipline, much like the military, those are going the kind of people you want to bring in. Culture doesn’t have to match perfectly. You should look for people who complement the existing culture as well. People who might be a devil’s advocate or have a different perspective than the rest of the team can drive innovation on your team.

Building a Team Tip #4 – Have a Plan

Make a plan to develop each team member. Consider their leadership skills as well as their technical skills. It’s important to have a plan to ensure everyone on your team gets leadership opportunities to grow and move up into a leadership position when the time is right. Without a plan sometimes we can unwittingly play favorites or overlook people. Work with each member of your team to develop an individual plan for their development and career advancement. Include soft skills like leadership skills, presentation skills, and communication skills that don’t lend themselves easily to technical analysis.

Building a Team Bonus Tip – Know When to Let Go

Don’t be afraid to let your team members move on when they get a great opportunity take a leadership role somewhere else. A lot of leaders want to keep their team together because they’ve got things working well, but we need to let our team members move on to greater opportunities so they can do great things in the world. There comes a time when every person needs to move on and do something else. As leaders, we should embrace that and help our team members prepare for that day.

Try these tips for building a team whether it’s a pre-existing team or you’re getting to pick your dream team to start a brand new project. Assess your needs and put that team together so that the members complement each other in terms of skills and personality traits. Stay conscious of your team culture and develop your team members you can all move on and grow together to greater opportunities.

Marketing is a challenge for every business owner. If you’re struggling with marketing, here are four lessons I’ve learned over the last couple of years.

Marketing and Advertising – 4 Lessons I’ve Learned Running a Business

Marketing and advertising are a challenge for every business owner. I’m not an expert on either of those topics, but one of our viewers asked us to talk about them. Twenty years in the Air Force prepared me well for leading others and running a business, but it didn’t really prepare me at all for the marketing and advertising aspects of business. I experienced a really big learning curve with marketing and sales. Even now, I have to spend a lot of time and effort on marketing. I often ask others for help with marketing now and then. If you’re struggling with marketing, here are four lessons I’ve learned over the last couple of years.

Marketing Lesson #1 – It’s About Your Customers, Not You

Most importantly, it’s got to be about your customers’ needs, not yours. This means talking to your customers your and understanding what their pain points are. You also need to figure out who your ideal customer is. Don’t try to market to everyone. Identify that ideal customer and what their needs are. Help make their lives better with your services. Don’t just give them you want to give and take their money.

Marketing Lesson #2 – Make connections, Not Pitches

This is a hard one for me. When I first meet someone I want to tell them all about my company and all the great things we have to offer. That’s not what everyone wants to hear, especially the first time you’re talking to them. Take some time to make a connection and get to know them a little bit. Let them get to know you and let it grow organically. You can have the discussion of what you have to offer later. This is a great time to pulse them about what their needs pain points are. It’s got to be about meeting their needs not about what you want to offer them.

Marketing Lesson #3 – Use Multiple Channels

It’s not enough to only be in one place.  You can’t just to go to some networking events each month or just use social media. You’ve got to go meet your clients where they’re at, wherever that is. That may mean a using mix of social media, in-person networking, cold calling, cold emailing or even print advertising. Meeting people where they’re at means more than just going to the locations where they’re at or being advertised in the publications they read. It means recognizing that they might not be ready to buy as soon as they see our advertisement. We’ve got to recognize where they’re at and build that relationship. Meet them where they are in their cycle of being ready to buy, not where we want them to be

Marketing Lesson #4 – Put the Time In

For effective marketing and advertising, you’ve got to put the time and effort in. Engage with your potential clients on social media. Go to networking events or meet them in their offices. You can’t just put a little bit of effort in and hope they’ll come to you. You’ve got to get out there and continue to engage with them. Follow up is critical because not everyone is ready to buy the first time you talk to them. That doesn’t mean they’re not interested but you do need to follow-up with them. Engage with your audience on social media and customize your posts for each platform. You’re going to make a post on Twitter differently from a post you make on Facebook. Make sure you’re putting the time in engaging with people and customizing your advertising and marketing messages for the right platform and the right medium.

I hope these tips were helpful to you, I hesitate to even call them tips because these are all lessons that I’ve had to learn and I’m still learning. A lot of them I’ve had to learn the hard way. I hope that this keeps you from having to make the mistakes I did and get a great start on marketing to your customers!

Managing up isn't just about getting our boss to accept our proposals. We need to build trust that we will act in the best interest of the organization.

Managing Up – 3 Tips for Managing Your Boss

Often, as leaders, we get wrapped up in day-to-day problems and leading our own team. We sometimes forget how important managing up is. We need to build strong relationships with our boss and our boss’s boss in order to lead effectively.

Effective leaders do more than just manage their team. They build strong working relationships their leadership up the chain. Managing up isn’t just about getting the boss to accept our proposals. We need to build trust that we will act in the best interest of the organization.

When I was a young Air Force Captain, I was working on a project and had to go see the Wing Commander. I had put together a few options but wasn’t really sure which one to choose. I went to the meeting and asked him what he wanted to do. He looked at me and said, “Jason I’m a Colonel, you’re a captain. You’re the project officer. Figure it out.” He then explained that he wasn’t trying to be harsh, but rather that he trusted me. As the expert, I should be recommending to him what the best alternative is. That experience taught me what managing up is all about. Bring solutions to the boss instead of just bringing problems or questions.

Managing Up Tip #1 – Bring Solutions, Not Problems

Effective leaders will go to the boss and present the problem, their thought process and their preferred solution along with several alternatives. Go to your boss with some solutions in mind. Don’t just bring more problems. The boss already has plenty of problems on his plate, we don’t need to bring him more. You show initiative by providing several solutions and build trust by showing that you have the best interests organization at heart.

Managing Up Tip #2 – Solve Your Boss’s Problems

Don’t just solve your own problems. Solve your boss’s problems. When you talk to the boss about a problem and how you’re going to solve it, think about the way your boss thinks about it. Consider their concerns they have across all of the groups they manage, not just your team. Also, be aware of the requirements that are placed on your boss from above. If you can solve your boss’s problems they know they have one, you’re effectively managing up. Your boss is going to trust you and see that you have that initiative to accomplish the mission and do what’s right for the organization.

Managing Up Tip #3 – The One Challenge Rule

What if your boss completely shuts you down on the solution you presented? That happens sometimes and we need to deal with it tactfully. In this case, you can use the one challenge rule to effectively manage up. You don’t want to argue with your boss over the right thing to do. After the decision, if you believe they are making a mistake, take one opportunity to say so. Lay out your case respectfully and calmly in a logical way. The boss may change their mind or decide to go with the original decision. Either way, you made your case and the boss will respect that you tried to do the right thing for the organization. Once the decision is made, go execute according to the boss’s guidance even if you didn’t get your way.

Next time you’re getting ready to pitch one of your ideas to your boss even further up the chain, think about these three tips before you go into the meeting. Remember, we’re trying to build a strong working relationship with our boss and all of the leaders in our organization. We want to build trust by showing them that we’re focused on our mission as well as what’s in the best interest of the organization.

We all like to feel safe. Sometimes that desire keeps us where we’re comfortable. Often, we need to get out of our comfort zone to achieve our goals.

Comfort Zone – 4 Tips to Step Out of Yours

We all like to feel safe. Sometimes that desire to feel safe keeps us where we’re comfortable. Often, we need to get out of our comfort zone to achieve our goals. Sometimes I take a long time to get push past what is comfortable for me. Whenever I start a new job or activity I spend much more time watching and listening than participating. It really frustrates me sometimes.

When I was in my early twenties, I read some of the Clive Cussler books and wanted to scuba dive. I wanted to explore shipwrecks, take pictures and see the world in a new way, but was cautious moving forward. I realize now that scuba diving was out of my comfort zone. The good news is, I found ways to get past it. Now I love diving, even though I don’t do it as much as I would like to.

Comfort Zone Tip #1 – Ask Yourself “Why?”

If you find yourself not doing something you know you want to do, ask yourself why? Some of it is just basic human nature, whether it’s part of our natural personality or learned behavior. In ancient times, taking risks could result in injury or death. Even in the modern world, proposing a new idea could subject us to criticism or other social consequences.

So ask yourself, is there real life-and-limb danger and are there ways I can mitigate it? There are many exciting pastimes like skydiving, rock climbing, scuba diving that people do every day successfully. They find ways to manage the risk in those activities. So what are the real risks and how can you reduce them to make it safe and fun?

What about social consequences.? You may not think that there would be social consequences to scuba diving, but what if your family doesn’t approve? Someone you care about might feel it’s too dangerous. Even if you’ve done your homework, you may have to alleviate their fears. Share with them the research you’ve done to mitigate the risk.

If a new idea or activity excites you, but you’re holding back, ask yourself why? Address those reasons rationally and objectively. Not convinced to step out of your comfort zone yet? That’s what our other tips are for.

Comfort Zone Tip #2 – Take Just One Step

Next, take just one step forward, even if it’s a small one. I’ll stick with my scuba diving example. At this time in my life, my family came to California to visit me. One day we went to Catalina Island. For some reason, while they were looking in a shop I stepped into the dive shop next door. I started looking at some of the equipment and got to chat with one of the guys in the shop. He shared a lot of information and told me about the material in scuba certification courses. The internet was still pretty new back in these days so there wasn’t a lot you could search for then. I took a couple more trips to dive shops before I signed up, but that step helped me out of my comfort zone.

Comfort Zone Tip #3 – Build a Team

Don’t try to get out of your comfort zone alone. Find friends interested in the same activities. Build a team to help encourage each other to step out of your comfort zones. You can support each other, learn from each other and talk about what makes you nervous. Working as a team and supporting each other’s goals is one of the best ways to get over that fear that keeps you from getting out of your comfort zone.

Comfort Zone Tip #4 – Try It Someone Else’s Way

The last tip is to just try things someone else’s way, just once, and see how it goes. The people who really care about us are always giving us advice because to help us succeed. We may not want that advice. We may not think it’s the right thing to do, but sometimes it’s best to just give it a try. This is helpful if we’re not making progress on a goal and don’t realize we’re stuck in our comfort zone. I know how hard it is to follow through on this one. I catch myself all the time not taking other people’s advice so don’t feel bad if you experience some resistance to this one. Testing out the advice that other people give us, just once, can help us realize we have been holding back and can open new doors that we didn’t even know were there.

So now you’ve got 4 new tools to use when you feel like you’re not moving forward on something and not sure why. Whether you’re looking into scuba diving, or not making progress on your career like you envisioned, it could be because you’re stuck in your comfort zone and don’t even know it. Give these tips a try this week when you’re making decisions and see if they help you step out of your comfort zone!