Monday, May 9, 2016

The Line Between Connection and Disconnection

Working in a gym all day, you get to see so many human behaviors. Some good, some bad, some just neutral. I've noticed a particularly disturbing habit in the gym that I manage and I believe its indicative of a larger problem in our society. It started a few years back when people began using their smart phones to play music while working out. Now, its nothing new that people like to listen to personal music devices when they workout. I remember when that yellow Walkman came out. It was like a breath of fresh air for people who love to listen to music when they workout. As time advanced so did the technology. However, while technology has united us in many ways it has also disconnected us greatly as well.

Now, in the case the gym I'm in almost every day, and I'm sure is the case for many gyms, so many people are becoming stagnant participants or prisoners to the connection of their phones. Nine years ago a few people came to our gym with ipods and just played music while they worked out. About five years in people were discarding their ipods for smartphones which would allow you to not only play music but operate other functions on your phone. Currently, I'm seeing people just spend time on their phones checking emails, texting and more while they mindlessly walk on the treadmill/elliptical, etc. I see people doing resistance training and then taking sometimes 10-20 minute breaks to mess with their phone, shoot videos, call colleagues and more. As a life long exerciser and student of both the art and science of fitness, this just rubs me the wrong way.

Shouldn't exercise be about disconnecting from the everyday calls, texts, emails and more that you are in constant connection with? However, equipment manufacturers and other technology innovators are asking us to connect more and more to our devices. They tell us that its supposed to make us closer to those around us, but I've actually seen the opposite. Human beings need time to dive inward and be away from the noise of life. Exercise has always been a great vehicle to consistently do that. However, we are pushing further and further away from that.

Now, I'm not here to say that technology is bad. Don't get me wrong...I enjoy the convenience and ease that technology has provided in my life. However, I know when its time to put it away so that I can focus on what's important. I purposely leave my phone at home when I'm out with my family, I never check any messages or mess with my phone when I'm working out and so on and so forth. There's a time and a place for using the wonderful technology of smartphones in our world. The true power in wielding the technology is when you understand when to let it go. And really, that's a great lesson in life. Connection is critical for human beings in life, but so is knowing when to disconnect.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Friday, March 18, 2016

Death by SOP's

If you knew me in college then you new that I had this legendary process that I would complete at the beginning of every academic semester. As a collegiate athlete I knew that my time was very precious. I certainly did not have enough hours in the day to complete everything that was being thrown my way. So, I figured that when I received the syllabus from each class that I was taking that I would complete all of the reports/papers/projects that were listed in the syllabus for each class. That meant I would hunker down for exactly two weeks in the beginning of each semester and knock out all of the work for each class. I would then neatly put each item in each folder I had for each class. When the assignment was due, all I had to do was take out the appropriate one and hand it in. I know, I know...this must sound crazy. However, it worked for me. I was able to achieve high marks while also limiting the stress I had during the semester. It was awesome to be able to go to track practice and not worry about staying up late to do assignments each night. 

However, the other side of this process I developed was that I didn't necessarily retain a lot of the information in my undergraduate studies. As I progressed to graduate school I backed off of this practice because it was really killing the joy I had in the process of building something and taking my time in doing it. Additionally, when I was doing everything by the "T" and focusing so much on the end result, I didn't allow myself time to work on projects with classmates and develop those special bonds with people on that level. I was just a machine pumping out the product without any emotion. That's why I had to change. I was missing out on the real process of growing relationships in the collegiate school environment. 

After I graduated from my doctoral program at UNLV, I entered the public workforce in a full time capacity. It was then that I really understood the value of developing culture versus developing end result reports and procedural documents. Everyday I was faced with spending more time in the vocational academic environment on either procedural/academic documents or spending time with my students. 

While I certainly completed the formal documents that were required of me, I felt the need to turn them in later (yet still on time) versus earlier. I wanted to spend the majority of my time blossoming meaningful personal relationships with co-workers and creating strong social/emotional rapport with students. This resulted in my "aha" moment which was that people matter more than reports. I learned that the discussions you have over a beer with a colleague are way more important than the droll attendance of meetings in boardrooms and classrooms with my superiors. Now, again...I attended the meetings and fulfilled the requirements, but it never satisfied me. 

Fast forward again and now I'm the General Manager of Club Ridges, which is still my current job
with WTS International. In June I will be celebrating my ninth year with the company. Did you know that before WTS I didn't stay in a job longer than a year and a half? You know why? It is much like Richard Branson says in his amazing book, "The Virgin Way." He says that just because someone has jumped jobs several times doesn't mean they can't keep a job. He says maybe its because those jobs couldn't keep them. This was the case for me. Every job I had before WTS never invested into my growth as a human being. I was just another worker and that didn't work for me. 

At WTS and in particular at Club Ridges, I have been able to as the GM, cultivate a people first mentality. That mentality has grown into one of the most unique, fun and successful work environments in the country. I truly believe that. We don't focus on doing things by the book and we surely don't focus on sitting in an office writing reports and SOP's over and over again. Now don't get me wrong. I believe SOP's are valuable and the need to be done, but I'm not going to spend a ton of time investing into writing an SOP for everything I do. 

Someone once asked me to write an SOP for our culture at Club Ridges. They wanted me to write this SOP as a way to standardize how we did things. My response was I'm not doing it unless you want me to write out some script that says when you walk into the club you will get a hug and get the hard high five. The person on the other end of the phone laughed when I said that. The point is that you can't bottle or operationalize love, camaraderie, partying and sincere passion for the people and the consumers we work with. Its something you can't grasp or write down and have someone follow. You just have to experience it, feel it, touch it and take it in. When you devote the majority of your time in any business towards lifting up the people in that business then you will receive a result that is greater than you could have ever imagined. 

And I'm not alone in this approach. More and more of today's workforce, especially millennials, are not standing for the old school work environment where the boss is in the Ivory Tower sending out memos about procedure and where you just clock in and clock out. They don't want and I don't want meetings upon meetings that lead to no where. They and I want to experience work in its full and vibrant color. That's why I will continue to lead the charge much like powerful heads of innovative companies like Richard Branson (Virgin Companies) and Larry Page (Google). Its the future, but really its beginning to be the now. Don't be beaten to death by SOP's, memos and the such. While they have a place, its much better to focus on being front and center with your team and growing a beautiful flower of positive flow in the workplace. I say this all the time to anyone who will hear makes money. Believe it!

Until next time...

Dr. D

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Positive Disruptions

Traditions are wonderful elements of life. As human beings we spend a lot of time developing, cultivating and maintaining a variety of long standing traditions. Many of those traditions are related to holidays or family gatherings. Traditions such as Thanksgiving originated hundreds of years ago and continue to have significant relevance to the lives of millions of people. Traditions bind people together under a common cause often associated with goodness and kindness. I'm all for traditions because they deepen the relationships between people. 

However, sometimes traditions do get people in the mindset of being stagnate. They can sometimes cause people to feel obligations to things that are outdated or forced. That's why I love the concept of positive disruptions. What is this? Well, its really a counter culture approach to tradition in that you are looking for ways to expand or think outside the box to create something new. Often when someone tries to create a positive disruption people see it as a negative thing. I never look at it that way. Progress towards something positive, new and widespread usually begins with dissension and skepticism. That is until the implementation of the idea reaches a critical point where the majority of people tag along and make it mainstream. 

A great example of companies setting the trend towards critical mass in positive disruption are Southwest Airlines, Google and Zappos. These companies have deliberately created a positive disruption in work culture. These companies focus on employee centered businesses. The goal is to create a better work environment for employees so that they will create a better feeling and vibe for the consumer. These places provide the comforts of home at work and encourage play at work. This is very different from the customer is always right culture that many people grow up with. This positive disruption is gaining tremendous traction with more and more companies. In fact, these companies have heavily influenced how I run the fitness facility I manage here in Las Vegas. I place the majority of my focus on empowering, uplifting, educating and loving my staff. 

An example of the infancy of positive disruption is solar energy. The positive idea of using renewable energy from the sun has been met with so much negative commentary and actions from traditional energy companies. Why the negativity? More than likely its because it challenges their established monetary gain and ideals about fossil fuel. I get it. Its hard to change when you have created something that people have used for generations that funds your life as well. Change is difficult, but companies like Solar City are starting the fire of positive disruption and making it plausible for everyday families to do something that is a better option for the planet and for people. Change is messy sometimes, but in the end...what if that positive disruption has the ability to truly change how we function and live in a society in a positive way? I want to be a part of that. 

In the end, positive disruption has always been a part of our DNA as human beings. It has been the driving force behind leaps in our progress in society. Someone or a group of people have always decided to question "they" and think outside the limitations that people often put on each other. Those innovators have changed how we view and function in our lives for the better. You have the ability to positively disrupt your life on a daily, weekly and yearly basis. 

While traditions are amazing and help bind us as humans, task yourself in 2016 to shake up those traditions with a positive disruption that will ultimately enhance it and turn it into something even more beautiful. It's what we do as human beings. We climb mountains, run races, search for new planets, make new gadgets and so on and so forth. Make your mark.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Monday, January 4, 2016

Can You Lead?

I'm a big time sports fan. I grew up in a family that valued and watched sports around the clock.. I basically grew up with Sports Center on the TV. My love for playing and learning about sports was fueled primarily by my father's huge love for sports. My Dad started my brother and I's passion for sports as little kids. We started with tee ball and moved into baseball, football, basketball and track and field. As we got older it seemed our love of sports just continued to grow. It also helped that I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship for track and field to continue my sports participation as a young adult. That kept my competitive juices flowing and my knowledge for all sports current. Once my collegiate sports eligibility expired I continued to love sports and even better I was getting an education at James Madison University on the various phases of how and why people participate in sports. It was eye opening to say the least. I learned so much about psychological theories related to sports performance and physiological adaptations to sports and exercise participation.

However, one of the biggest lessons I learned was about the concept of leadership. As you may know, the importance of leadership cannot be stated enough in the sports setting. Every year, especially in the National Football League, coaches are fired and hired based on the team's win/loss record. How well the team plays factors heavily into who coaches the team from year to year. While this is fair as wins and losses are the bottom line, who you hire to lead your organization whether it be in sports or in any other profession should be based first and foremost on an individual's ability to galvanize, motivate and get the most of their employees. Now don't get me wrong. You MUST hire someone in your organization who understand the basic knowledge and nuances of the job they are doing. That's the price of admission. Most individuals who come to apply for leadership levels roles will try to sell you on their mastery of the X's and O's. However, hiring for just this will not give you the success you are looking for. It has to be about that individuals ability to lead other people and themselves.

How many times have you turned on Sports Center to see that another NFL head coach was fired because he not only had a poor win/loss record, but because he also could not connect with his players? Regardless of how much money is made in any profession, people will only work hard for leaders that they respect and can relate to. So, you have to ask yourself, am I leadership material? The simple answer is maybe and maybe not. Having the title of the top spot in any organization is not for everyone. Not every one is meant to lead and be the face of the "franchise." So, how can you tell if you are that type of person. What is leadership? Here's a look in to see if you have what it takes to be a leader of people in an organization:

1. Presence

- Any great leader of any organization has that "it" factor about them. They are contagious in their personality and ability to deliver direction and intensity to others and themselves. Its an innate trait of someone who is a leader. They have always had it and you know it when you see it.

2. Compassion and Love

-Great leaders are at the forefront of compassion, love and care for their staff. They provide the proper level of connection with each staff member and relate to them in the way that works best for that staff member to feel validated and important. To get the best out of people you often have to meet their basic human needs for connection, compassion and care.

3. Disciplined

-Great leaders are not just great with feelings, but they are also great with providing structure and discipline in any environment. This structure provides boundaries and guidelines for the team so that everyone knows where they stand.

4. Reflection and Evaluation

-Any amazing leader always reflects upon their work and their interactions with others. They evaluate their decisions and make changes that are for the better good of the team and its members.

5. Build a Culture, Not a System

-Systems are numbers and schemes and procedures. They are heartless and have no emotional value. While having a good system is important to have guidance and rules, people don't stay in jobs long term because of systems. Leaders who employ a system based job with no emotional attachment to staff are doomed to have tremendous amount of employee turnover (see the Cleveland Browns). As a leader, staff turnover is the killer of productivity. Leaders must create a positive work culture in order for staff/employees to effectively perform the work in that culture at a high level on a long term basis.

Do you have what it takes to lead? If you do then great! If you don't then that's fine too. You just have to know yourself and what role you play in an organization.

Until next time...

Dr. D

Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Curious Case of Social Media Conections

Social media is one of the most intriguing and game changing technology inventions of this era. People are more connected than ever across the globe. You can now be on the other side of the world and continue to have regular contact with friends and family whenever you want. From Facebook to Instagram to Twitter and LinkedIn, there are so many ways to connect with others.

However, what if I told you that more and more we are becoming disconnected? That's right, while we have so much access, I believe it is in many ways lessening the human to human component. Take LinkedIn for example. Its a very professional site where people are supposed to become "connections" with each other for the purpose of networking and helping each other in their professional endeavors. While many people connect with each other I find that the gigantic percentage of people just accept a connection request and then never actually connect with those people in a message, email or phone call. I find that very fascinating! In fact, when I connect via message with each person that accepts my connection request, many people want to know if I am researching something or they will ask why do I want to know so much? Its like people are conditioned to create this volume of connections without actually getting to know them. Strange.

I can tell you this, if that's your game on social media, to collect friends, connections, etc. without any real human connection then what are you really doing on social media? I asked myself this question a few years ago and it led me to really pair down my social media feeds to people I actually talk to or have had a conversation with. Also, whenever I connect with someone I always send them a thank you note and ask them questions to learn about them. Social media is networking and you can't get to know people unless you ask them questions and gain more insight into who they are as people and what makes them tick professionally and personally.

Do I have the most friends on Facebook? Not even close. Does my Instagram have hundreds of thousands of followers? Again, not even close. However, what I am building is a slow and meaningful approach to connections. Its one that allows me to have meaningful phone calls, emails and in person meets with people almost every week. The real goal of social media is to be a vehicle for helping people get closer to each other to help each other out. Ask yourself...are you doing this?

Until next time...

Dr. D