Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Uncommon Thread

An Uncommon Thread

Remember back in school; growing up…when something out of the ordinary happened, we felt a tiny spark of excitement.   

When we were able to stay on the playground thirty more minutes, or when we had a guest speaker, or especially field trips.  Anything new…was fun.

For many of us, it’s no different today, as adults.  The slightest hint of something new or different in our everyday routine, can give us that jolt of energy we didn’t know we needed. New and different can be scary at first, but it can be so fun, if we’ll just give it a chance. 

Soon what was once new is no longer.  Things become routine again.  It’s natural.  It happens.  Life happens.  It’s in fact, pretty common.

This week my best friend, Sonny, invited me to speak at an Avis Budget Group Leadership Summit he held for his Ancillary Sales Team.  “It’s car rental…and they sell you stuff when you pick up your car”, I thought.  Pretty common…a sales meeting, getting together to talk about new products, numbers, and “strategies”.

It was anything but common.  It was as uncommon as anything I’d ever experienced. 

In fact, I met about 80 uncommon people.  They not only engaged in deep dialogue with one another, they were also engaging in the way they shared their ideas. 

They were polished and knowledgeable about their products, but even more passionate about their people.  They were excited to be together, but couldn’t wait to get back to work on their shared mission, in their respective airports and local market locations.  They were uniquely different, as individuals, but somehow collectively they were the same…united, focused, and determined to win, together.

Senior executive leaders from their corporate headquarters flew in for the summit, just for support, and to build a little community with the team.  And…they were nice. Sadly, in corporate America, today…most executives are many things, but ‘genuinely nice’ is rarely how they’re described.  ABG’s executives were nice…uncommon, for their role.

Stepping away from my daily routine, for this experience was out of the ordinary.  Although the events took place in Orlando, Fl, where I feel almost at home, having lived there for nearly ten years…it felt new.  It didn’t feel common…it was uncommon.

Thank you, to Sonny and my new friends at ABG, who reminded me of the power of being uncommon.

Just like those out of the ordinary days at school were fun, new, and different when we were young.  And just like when something new happens in our lives today…when we choose to be uncommon, you and I can become the fun, the inspiration, and the very jolt of energy that everyone else on our team didn’t know they needed. 

One for the road…

Early in life, I remember learning in the second grade, that every single person on Earth is different.  I was fascinated with the fact that not one person has the same fingerprints as me.  Not one person has the exact same fingerprints as you.

Today, I’m still fascinated. 

Common, by definition, is ‘of no special quality’.  It’s simply mediocre, at best.  

Uncommon, on the other hand, is ‘exceptional’, ‘remarkable’, and ‘extraordinary’.

It’s easy to feel common, with our routine jobs, in our routine industries, with our seemingly mundane, everyday routine.  Remember that despite today’s circumstance, no matter where we are in lives or careers, we are not common.  We’re all created differently.

We can choose to go OneMoreStep into our uniqueness, and leverage it.  Nobody else is just like us, anywhere in the world. 

So we should embrace our opportunity to truly be uncommon men and women…and just maybe, we'll be someone else’s inspiration to do the same.

Have a great day.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Seattle's 12th Man...and Leadership

Seattle’s 12th Man… and Leadership

Earlier in this year’s NFL season, my girlfriend, Jenna, brought home a Russell Wilson jerseySomeone she works with gave it to her, and she gave it to me...I'm a huge fan of his, and I love his story.

Russell Wilson is #3.  However, on the inside of the jersey, it had a #12 stitched on the neck…I didn’t get it.  At that moment, I was on the receiving end of a mini-lecture from my Pacific Northwestern girlfriend on how the Seattle Seahawks’ beloved fan base is referred to as the 12th Man. (11 players on a football team…and the fans are…the…’12th Man.  Boom…got it.)

I’ve been fascinated with it ever since…

Seahawk fans are just that, fanatical about their team…and their city.  They’re loyal, zealous people, of all ages.  They wear their ‘Hawks’ gear all year round, with pride, representing their nation.  As they pass each other on the street in Seattle, in the aisle at their neighborhood Fred Meyer, or even outside of the Pacific Northwest…

I’ve seen them here in Las Vegas, at Disneyland, in Anaheim, and even when vacationing in Florida…they greet one another with, “Go Hawks”, as their blue’s and green’s shine brightly on their hats, shirts, headbands, shoes, and accompanying jewelry. 

On Fridays, in Seattle, during football season it’s a sea (no pun) of blue…for what they call, “Blue Friday”, as everyone wears their gear, leading up to the game on Sunday. 

Blue Thunder, the official drum line of the Seahawks, has played at every home game as well as over 100 events per year, throughout the greater Seattle area, since 2004.  As Gameday approaches, during the season, the city hoists the official `12th Man’ flag atop Seattle’s iconic Space Needle.

Before every home game, a prominent individual to the Seattle community raises the ‘12th Man’ flag, in a ceremony before the games are played at Century Link Field.  Fans not only turn out for every single game, selling out Century Link consistently, but they also cause an absolute ruckus.  They’re so loud that opposing teams get disoriented with multiple false start penalties, and on more than one occasion the crowd’s noise actually registered on a seismometer nearby. Impressive.

Earlier this season, the ‘12th Man’ proudly became the loudest crowd in history, on a Monday night in early December when the noise level reached 137.6 decibels.

Here’s what amazes me --- when 67,000 of Seattle’s ‘12th Man’ faithfully migrate into Century Link and thousands more across the Pacific Northwest trek out to their establishment of choice for the games --- it’s about 36 degrees (if they’re lucky) and probably raining.  

Needless to say, I’m impressed with Seattle, and I’m enamored with the ‘12th Man’ phenomenon.  So I naturally dug a little deeper, tapping into some Googling skills, to learn just how in the world this all started.

Now, I get it.

You see the ‘12th Man’ really took off when, in 2005, Coach Mike Holmgren recognized the Seahawks fans with a presentation of a special game ball, for their incredible efforts in a dramatic overtime victory over the New York Giants.  In the game, the Giants committed 11 false starts, which undoubtedly occurred because of the Seahawks fan’s crowd noise…

However, recognizing and involving the fans in Seattle, as it turns out, has been a part of their culture since Day 1.  The team was originally going to be called the Seattle Kings, but after a public naming contest the name, ‘Seattle Seahawks’ was selected.  The contest drew over 20,000 entries and over 1,700 names. 

In 1996, the Seahawks franchise was almost moved out of Seattle…to Southern California.  If not for Paul Allen, the team would have likely been taken away from the Emerald City.  Allen funded a $25 Million ad campaign, targeted to the people of Washington to vote for a $430 Million project  - a new stadium for the Hawks, exhibition center, and parking garage. IF and only IF the vote passed, Allen would agree to buy the team... (yep, he peeled off $25 million, just to lobby for the new stadium...before he even owned the team.)

The vote passed…Allen was then able to buy the team.  In addition, he paid $130 Million and the public (taxpayers) paid $300 Million to build the new stadium…and that’s how and why the ‘12th Man’ has the unbelievable platform to do what they do 8 Sundays each season, to this day.

Supposedly just to get the deal done, the way it all went down was a mini-miracle…and would probably never happen today, as too many parties had to compromise. 

Through all the chaos, they say that Paul Allen had little interest in owning a football team, but he saw it as a civic responsibility…and he did it for his hometown, so the people of Seattle wouldn’t lose their beloved Seahawks.

Leaders Can Learn From the Seattle Seahawks Story

To recap...the people of Seattle are:

·      Involved in the process of choosing their team’s name from the start
·      Credited for the Seahawks’ extraordinary ability to win at home
·      Recognized and appreciated with the pre-game ‘12th Man’ flag raising
·      United by that ‘12th Man’ flag flying high above Seattle’s Space Needle

And in turn, the people of Seattle, the ‘12th Man’, are loyal, energetic, enthusiastic, passionate, and they bring it…everyday...even the 36-degree days...and in the rain, and rain, and rain.

They love their team, and they love their city.

Calling all leaders!!! --- When we involve the people on our teams, credit them for successes, recognize and show them appreciation for what they do, and unite them together with common bonds and shared goals…we, too, can experience a culture of loyalty, energy, passion, and enthusiasm.   

And we’ll all love it.

And that’s why I love Seattle’s ‘12th Man’ and leadership.

Go Hawks…

One for the road...about ATTITUDE

I'm a bit of a weather snob, having lived in either Florida or Nevada for most of my adult life.  So the weather in Seattle...yeah...not my fave.

But if you ever ask a person from Seattle, "doesn't it rain all the time in Seattle?"

They almost always respond with, "yeah, but it it's so beautiful...in the summer."

So nine months of the year, it's gray, cold, and raining...but they choose to focus on the three months of gorgeous views, sunny weather, and the beauty of what God blessed them with rather than complaining about the rain.  (They love their city so much that they actually get offended if you make fun of the rain...I've learned the hard way.)

There's just something about Seattle, and while it is certainly a beautiful city...I can't help but think the people make place.

It's all about people.  So focus on people the most!