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HTM 025 – Three strategies with Know It Alls – How To Matter

April 19th, 2016 by Gary Crow


Consider the advice before discounting the advisor, read the message before turning away the messenger.

The expertise and insight of the know-it-alls of the world are boundless; and the K-I-A’s are ready to provide advice and input anywhere, anytime, for anyone. A K-I-A was there to point out to Noah there may be a flood, to T. Edison playing with electricity might be shocking, and to Neil Armstrong pulling off his helmet and yelling, “Where’s the party?” could take his breath away. There may have even been a K-I-A around to tell Moses to be sure to get it in writing.

The K-I-A openings have an annoyingly familiar theme: “Have you thought about?” “Did you notice?” “You may want to,” and the old stand by, “If I were you.” Well, thank you very much; and while you are getting the inflection on your sarcasm just right, don’t forget Churchill’s admonition “Even a fool’s right sometimes.”

Don’t let people mess with your monkey.

Making nice and being the Good Samaritan aren’t the only skills you need in your interpersonal repertoire. Sure, those skills are essential for success; but you also have to hang tough at times. For example, is there someone driving you up the wall with their suggestions, advice, and superior attitude? They have solutions to problems you don’t have, answers to questions you didn’t ask, and suggestions for how to handle things you are handling just fine. Their favorite sport is nosing into your business.

Instead of seething inside or giving into the urge to tell them what they can do with their suggestions and opinions, next time, smile and say, “Isn’t that my monkey?” Whatever their response, say, “Thank you; but my monkey gets upset if anyone but me tries to handle him.”

Whether you have a chance to explain your reasons or can only walk away, don’t let arguments get out of hand.

Do you sometimes find yourself in the middle of intense arguments quickly getting nowhere? If so, the instant you realize what’s happening, stop talking, wait five seconds, and then calmly ask, “What do you want the outcome of this conversation to be? What is your goal?”

Ask a few more questions to be sure you understand and to help you determine whether you can support the goal. If so, explain how. If not, say, “Your goal isn’t one I can support. If you want, I will try to help you understand why I can’t.” If the person wants to listen, state your reason as clearly and as briefly as you can. If not, let it go.

The best response of all is saved for the podcast. Click and learn for yourself. Even better, subscribe to “How To Matter” through your favorite podcatcher.

HTM024 – The Critical 20% – How To Matter

April 17th, 2016 by Gary Crow


Back when, my dad told me that we get 80% of our points by just showing up and staying all day. For the remaining 20%, the key is how we manage. It is that 20% that separates the winners from those who merely play the game.

I focus on that critical 20% in this episode of How To Matter. In the podcast, I suggest a strategy you can use to do as well as you know to do, with style, all the time on purpose. I hope you click play to listen.

If you want to be sure you don’t miss future episodes of How To Matter, just search for How To Matter in the podcatcher of your choice and subscribe. After that, each episode will be there for you as soon as they are published.

HTM 023 – The Success Attitude aka PRIDE – How To Matter

April 15th, 2016 by Gary Crow


Simon says, “Your success is just an attitude away.”


As with most of life’s important adventures, the door to your success potential unlocks with attitude, attitude, attitude; and you hold the key. Unlocking your unlimited potential rests on your fully committing to your success. For you, anything less than success is unacceptable. Coming close, a good try, nearly succeeding, and other versions of not quite making the grade just do not do. Others may be satisfied with having played a good game; but your vision for yourself does not include second place.


How do you develop the success attitude? You start by understanding if you do not expect to succeed, you are likely right. Successful people make it look easy but appearances can be very misleading. Your success is the most challenging work you ever have the opportunity to do. If you do not believe you are up to the challenge, it is all too easy to fail. What’s more, you quickly see failing is far easier than succeeding. To succeed, you not only believe you have what it takes to succeed, you believe you are up to the challenge. For you, success is not merely a possibility, it is inevitable.


Your journey to success does not come with a guarantee. There certainly are pitfalls and hazards along the way. You know the potential to succeed is permanently bound to the possibility of failure. Despite the risk, you are committed to your success, keep your focus on the rewards of succeeding, know anything else is a precursor to personal disaster.


No, Simon is definitely not suggesting you ignore the risks or discount the danger. What’s more, your personal success coach certainly knows it is safer for you to do only what you are supposed to do, follow the rules, and trust the world will reward you. Others depend on you to do what they want done; and you are dependent on them for everything. If this fits your vision for yourself, it may turn out just fine, assuming you hitched your horse to the right wagon. If instead, you do not see yourself spending your life pulling someone else’s wagon, it is time for a new vision for your future, one putting who you are and who you will become on the same success path.


Do you see yourself on the success path? If so, you have the attitude it takes to succeed. You imagine yourself succeeding; you know you will succeed. It is the only alternative worthy of your valuable time and personal interest.


Where is the point about PRIDE, you ask? I hope your curiosity prompts you to click the play button to learn how PRIDE is essential for your success, essential for you to succeed.

HTM 022 – Buttheads – How To Matter

April 14th, 2016 by Gary Crow


Sharks are involved and decisive. They are very much into being individuals who are not part of the group and who definitely operate in their own interest. Being involved takes the form of being extremely alert, aware of what is going on, and prepared to act quickly and efficiently. Decisiveness is a major characteristic, with sharks being able to make a decision and act on it without hesitation or second guessing.


Seals are helpful and playful. They are definitely part of the group and social participation is a high priority for them. They like being helpful, doing things for and with others, and making things work out well for everyone. They also have an ability to be helpful in a fun way, with playfulness being one of their primary characteristics.


That leaves buttheads. Well, for that you will need to press play and find out first hand. It may surprise you.

HTM 021 – Personal Boundaries – How To Matter

April 12th, 2016 by Gary Crow


In episode twenty-one of How To Matter, I talk about personal space. The discussion focuses on physical, emotional, moral, social, sexual, and intellectual boundaries, ours and those of other people. Just as we do not want others to cross our personal boundaries without our permission, we need to take care not to cross the personal boundaries of other people without their permission, their consent. Being able to judge and then respect the appropriate distance from other people is an important key to assuring that we are someone who matters, in the most positive sense of mattering. I hope you press the play button and listen to the discussion.


HTM 020 – An HTM Six-Pack – How To Matter

April 11th, 2016 by Gary Crow


* Always be as dependable as you are capable of being.


Slot one in this special six-pack is reserved for dependability. If you tell someone they can depend on you, does that mean your commitment to them is as if you made it to yourself? If so, people need only watch you to see how well you take care of yourself. That is as dependable as you are capable of being; so there you go.


* Be energetic and ready to fly at a moment’s notice.


Slot two is reserved for energy. If you were born tired and haven’t rested up yet, you may as well hang it up; but if you are energetic and prepared to give every opportunity your best, you may be ready to join the ardent high-flyers.


* Seriously consider what is important to other people.


Slot three is set aside for consideration. If you are ready for the give-and-take of living and working with people, you always take their needs and interests, goals and motivations into consideration. You don’t reflexively defer to their values and beliefs, want to’s and got to’s; but you put them into the equation as you set your priorities and make your plans.


* Put being honest with yourself as priority No. 1 and consistently apply the principle.


Slot four is for honesty. Sure, you are as good as your word; and when you make a commitment, people can take it to the bank, as they say; but this version of honesty isn’t for other people. It’s for you. Are your motivations as pure as you say they are; are you as committed as you claim; are you as interested in others as you seem; are you being as straight-up and forthcoming as you profess to be? It’s a fact you can fool some people all the time and most everyone now and then; but fooling yourself is worse than foolish. It’s taking dishonesty to a new and often irreversible low.


* Sustain your positive approach every time, with everyone.


Slot five is saved for the positive approach. This is not the pasted on smile, glad hand, and “Isn’t everything wonderful?” phoniness some slick types try to pass off as the genuine article, just as it isn’t some kind of nonsensical philosophy like, “Some good comes out of even the worst experiences.” Rather, it’s believing there is a way out of the darkest forest and you will find it. It’s remembering the good news in your life as you receive the bad. It’s hanging in there with yourself and with others when a lesser spirit would hang it up.


* Be consistently and genuinely reliable.


Slot six finishes up this six-pack. Make a list of people and things you have found to be reliable and then think about what their common ingredient is. Your list depends on your personal experience; but here are a few examples of reliability serving the immediate purpose. Sharp knives cut better than dull ones; cats don’t like having their heads held; Mom makes the best raison cake in the universe; if you are running late, something comes up to make you later; and Santa Clause still believes in you even if you stop believing in him. What is the common ingredient? Everything on the list is reliable, the way it is, always that way. The same is true for reliable people. They are not on-again off-again, up-and-down, one way with you and another with other people, erratic and unpredictable. Reliability is indeed their trademark; and an hour with them is as was an hour yesterday and as will be an hour tomorrow.


HTM 019 – Think Blue – How To Matter

April 10th, 2016 by Gary Crow


“One often contradicts an opinion when what is uncongenial is really the tone in which it was conveyed.” — Friedrich Nietzsche


Some people have a short fuse, are highly reactive, and are ready to go to war over anything. At other times, people are tired, frustrated, anxious, stressed, and atypically touchy and contentious. Either way, you conscientiously manage your interactions, emotions, reactions, and behavior in ways that minimize conflict, animosity, and contentiousness.


This doesn’t mean that you hold back, equivocate, or are reluctant to pursue your point of view, opinion, or expectation. To the contrary, you are always assertive, clear, and forthcoming. The point here is that conflicts and disagreements are managed as negotiations and not as arguments and battles. Confrontation and power games are seldom the best choice for resolving friction points and personality clashes. You have far better and more effective tools at hand and take care to use them instead of resorting to emotionally charged war games.


Okay, I didn’t mention anything about thinking blue. Click the play button to hear all about why you should Think Blue.


HTM 018 – Cultivate Success – How To Matter

April 8th, 2016 by Gary Crow


Simon says, “Let’s get a couple of things out in the open so you can get them behind you. Yes, it is possible to strike it rich, to have an inspiration for an invention making you famous while it makes your fortune, and maybe even to have a sudden insight leading you to the right end of the rainbow, pot of gold and all.”


Sure, some lucky ducks were born with silver spoons in their mouths. In life’s great poker game, some people get better cards than others. It is enough to make you just sit down and cry.


Before you drown in your tears, though, remember your good friend Simon did say instant success is possible, if all you want is money, status, or a free ride. The odds are not in your favor but it might happen. Hanging your future on it is a bit risky; but a possibility is still a possibility. If instead, you would rather hang your future on something a little more substantial, Simon has a suggestion for your thoughtful consideration:


  • Cultivate your success.


“Give me more credit than that, Simon,” you say. “Like you, I didn’t just come into town on a load of logs. I’ve been there too. I know success isn’t going to just drop into my lap out of the blue. I have to work for it and am certainly willing to do whatever it takes; but where do I start? How do I cultivate success?”


Good News! Click on the play button and find the answer.

HTM 017 – Finger Pointers – How To Matter

April 8th, 2016 by Gary Crow


“When a man points a finger at someone else, he should remember that four of his fingers are pointing at himself.” — Louis Nizer


You know to deal with people and problems directly and assertively. However, you also know that many people in positions of authority like pointing out that they always place the blame squarely on the person who did not get the job done. This is, from your point of view, a sure sign that the person in authority knows nothing about people. When a job doesn’t get done or doesn’t get done as well as expected, it’s obvious that someone didn’t get the job done. It’s also frequently easy to see who didn’t get it done. At that point, the authority junkie is quick to point a finger, “The job didn’t get done and you are the one who didn’t get it done.”


Here is the glitch. The authority junkie’s approach usually appears to work. The problem doesn’t recur, performance improves, the job gets done the next time. At the same time, people become more cautious, less creative, and more concerned about avoiding the authority junkie’s ire than in developing better ways to do the job and continuously improving their performance. “Good enough” becomes the standard, good enough to avoid the pointing finger of the authority junkie.


For you, the alternative to blaming and finger pointing is automatic. “This is disappointing. You must be at least as frustrated as I am about it. Can we see if we can figure out how to get a better outcome next time? What would help? How can I help?” Sure, enough is enough at times, even for you. People need to be held accountable and deal with the consequences of poor performance. The point is that this is a down-the-road eventuality and never where you start.


HTM 016 – Managing Fault Finders – How To Matter

April 7th, 2016 by Gary Crow


Faultfinders do not have much faith in people


Management and psychology texts argue that people will do as well as they can under the specific circumstances. They only need to accept the underlying values, understand the problem, and receive support and encouragement. Faultfinders do not buy into that. It is only necessary for them to look around to see the absurdity in the people-are-good-and-want-to-do-the-right-thing hypothesis. These players can look at almost any behavior, activity, or project and point out things that should have worked out better or faster. They can point to people who should have been smarter or sharper. They also call attention to events or circumstances that someone should have handled more smoothly or efficiently.


They always do better, they believe, so it is reasonable for them to expect others to do the same. Faultfinders reason thusly:


  • If things were done right the first time, we would not have to waste our time straightening out messes other people are causing


  • There is no excuse for that – whatever that happens to be


  • If you can’t do the job, we’ll find someone who can – and that will be easy to do


The trick is to Faultfind about something, anything, and then criticize someone, anyone. The result is that the spotlight never gets turned on the player. If the heat does turn on him, he only needs to escalate his criticism and self-righteous indignation.


Faultfinders are intolerant of others


Intolerance is to faultfinding as a lack of reason is to dogma. Remove the intolerance and this frustrating behavior must stand the test of reality and the close examination of others. It is this type of scrutiny the player wants to avoid whenever possible.


The faultfinder is always looking for the different, the negative, or the problematic in others. If the player shows any real tolerance, he runs the risk of overlooking these negative aspects. Attention must not shift to people’s strengths, abilities, or areas of special competence. This is a risk that must be avoided. Maintaining a high level of intolerance is safe and guarantees there will always be room for faultfinding.


Faultfinders expect others to foul up


This principle joins with intolerance and the next principle to form a closed triad. Simply expecting others to foul up enables the player to predict the behavior of people with 100 percent accuracy. Sooner or later everyone will handle something less than perfectly. The player’s intolerance makes it easy to see the negative or problematic. Assuming that the foul up will happen leads to his being sharper and quicker to pounce on it.


It is a variant of Murphy’s law. Sooner or later things will go wrong, and it is likely to be sooner. When it happens, the player is not surprised. He and Murphy predicted it.


It is easy for the player to spot and respond to what he expects. If everyone thinks a member of the family will foul up, they will be more alert, more on guard, and quicker to blame. When people expect the worst, there is seldom any surprise. Even if things are going well, Just you wait!


Faultfinders do not accept people as they are


Now the triad is complete. There is intolerance. There is the expectation others will foul up. Now, however people are, they should change.


The player says, “I do not like the way you handled that project.”


The staff member watches the player for a while to see how projects should be handled and then uses the player’s approach for the next project.


The faultfinder then says, “I do not like the way you handled this project.”


The staff member says, “But it is the same way you do things.”


The player then says, “I might have expected you to be someone who would try to take someone else’s techniques. You need to be original.”


Here is the triad in another context.


Mike works beside Ralph on the assembly line. Mike says, “Ralph, you are going to drive me crazy if you don’t stop moving your lips like you are chewing your cud when you operate that press.”


Ralph says, “Get off my back!”


Mike comes back with, “You people from the south plant are all alike. I don’t know why they put you in here even if we are short on help. We’d be better off without help like that.”


Ralph is hot now. “What do you mean by that? If it weren’t for us, nothing would ever get finished around here.”


Mike lashes back. “I get tired of fixing things you screw up.”


“Have I screwed up anything yet?” Ralph asked.


“Not yet but just give you enough time.”


It is a safe bet that Mike’s prediction will eventually come true and he will be ready to pounce.


Faultfinders are stingy with praise


Giving someone praise is dangerous. It can backfire by encouraging the person to do more that is praiseworthy. The faultfinder does not want this to happen. It gets much harder to find things to fault-find about. It is like a hunter encouraging all the game to leave his favorite hunting ground. Faultfinders tend not to be either stupid or self-defeating.


Faultfinders enjoy blaming and accusing people


The key here is that no one has to be at fault or in a position to be accused of anything. A typical example might go like this.


Karen says to Bill, her office mate, “The truth is it is your fault I didn’t get that promotion.”


Bill asks, “How do you figure?”


That is the opening Karen is looking for. “You missed your appointment in Atlanta, and the result was your proposal was late.”


Bill interrupts, “But I was snowed-in at Cleveland.”


Karen responds, “It is always something with you.”


Puzzled at the attack, Bill asks, “What does that have to do with your getting or not getting the promotion?” A big mistake, Bill!


Karen is ready. “I would not expect you to understand that kind of political thing. I work with you and you drop the ball. That makes me look bad and I do not get the promotion I deserve.”


More attentive now, Bill says, “Let me get this straight. I get snowed-in at Cleveland. My proposal is late, and because of that you end up not getting a promotion.”


With a wave of disgust, Karen ends the conversation. “You’ve got that one right.”


Faultfinders focus only on what is not going well


By this point, it is probably clear to you that focusing on the problematic and negative is the stock-and-trade of faultfinders.


“Please type a draft of this letter for me.”


A couple of hours later, “I’m getting tired of errors in the things you type for me.”


The typist says, “I did it in a hurry. I thought it was a draft and you wanted it in a hurry.”  Sorry, no win this time.


“I expect that even a draft will not be full of errors.  (There were three errors.)  You need to remember if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”


To herself, the typist thinks, “I don’t think you would think anything was right.”


This is a perceptive typist. The faultfinder will always find fodder for his cannon.


Faultfinders are not proud of the achievements of others


Suppose Karen and Bill both get promotions.


Karen says, “Wow! Don’t you think it’s great I got that promotion? I’ve worked hard and deserve it.”


Bill says, “It’s terrific! I think it’s terrific for me too.”


Karen responds, “Sure it’s nice for you. It isn’t that big of a deal for you, though. You’re a man so you can expect promotions almost automatically.”


Faultfinders expect others to do as well as they sometimes do


If there is a major player around and especially if he is in a position of authority, it does not pay to be exceptional. For example, a salesman has an unusual week. He hits on almost every call and ends up the week 60 percent over his solid but not outstanding average.


His sales manager says, “I knew you had it in you. You have been holding back on us. This is more like it, more up to your potential. This is the kind of work I’ll be expecting from now on. No more of this shirking. You are a great salesman.”


Of course, this is like expecting a baseball player to get a hit every time he comes to the plate or your child always to get A’s. Nonetheless, it is the stock-in-trade of a first class faultfinder. Their motto is nothing but better will do for everyone else.


Faultfinders place the blame squarely on the person who did not get the job done


“It is your fault. We were counting on you, and you let us down.”


On the surface, this may not seem like a technique for faultfinders. It is best to hold the responsible person directly responsible. The twist is that the faultfinder is literal about this. In the example above, Bill should not have been late with the proposal. He should have known it snows in Cleveland in the winter and made contingency plans. It was his job to get the proposal in on time, and it is his fault that it was late.


The technique is probably becoming clearer to you by now. The idea is that, no matter what, there are never any extenuating circumstances or mitigating conditions. The expectation is absolute and unconditional. Either there is success or there is a person who failed. The trick is for the player to use the technique while avoiding its being used on him.


If the player was the responsible person when things went awry, the best trick is to say, “I did my part. My part of the project went fine. It did not work out because there were several parts that had to be done right. There were a couple of the parts for which I was not responsible that went wrong.”


Suppose the project is putting in a new light bulb. Joe is responsible for light bulb replacement. As a first class faultfinder, he says, “It is not as simple as just putting in a new bulb. Nothing around here is so simple. The problem is that John forgot his keys, and I let him use mine. I can’t get into the closet without a key. By the time he finally got around to bringing my key back, there was insufficient time to install the fixture. The problem is that there is inadequate coordination of facility access. We have some big problems around here.”

HTM 015 – Homeruns & Expectations – How To Matter

April 6th, 2016 by Gary Crow


“A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectations.” — Patricia Neal


Expecting others to do as well as they sometimes do is both unreasonable and counterproductive. It’s like a twelve-year-old hitting a homerun and then being told, “I knew you could do it. Now let’s have another one. You are a homerun hitter.”


The problem is, of course, that there won’t be a homerun every time and now a single is sub-standard performance. The unspoken or perhaps spoken message is, “You aren’t giving it your best effort. You should have gotten a homerun.”


This applies to a sales person making an unusually big sale, a scientist making a new discovery, a team winning the big game, and so on but also applies to less consequential events and activities. It’s appropriate to expect excellent performance but you know that expecting exceptional or perfect performance every time is a sure way to demoralize and frustrate any person.

HTM 014 – By The Book – How To Matter

April 4th, 2016 by Gary Crow


B-t-B (By The Book) players are slow to deal with problems or conflicts


Once you understand the motivations behind the technique, its use becomes straightforward. First, if the player starts to deal with the issue, he is accepting some degree of responsibility for it. Next, others may hold him accountable for the existence of the difficulties or at least for how things turn out. Playing B-t-B requires someone or something on which to dump the responsibility and the blame, if things go sour. For the player dealing with anything lessens his ability to point the finger anywhere but toward himself.


B-t-B players play it safe


Using this technique is not as easy as you might first think. The trick is to see that it is a very complex play. First, the player must be able to see when there is a risk of any kind. Next, the successful player uses all his options.

Option one is to avoid doing anything that could turn out badly. Option two is to have a backup or a cut-and-run plan.


Rich is another master with the technique. His main play is to do things the same way he always does them. What has worked before is likely to work again. He knows people seldom find fault with his handling things in the usual way, whether it works or not.


Next, Rich always looks at how things can go sour and little at how they can succeed. He asks, “What are the three strongest reasons for not doing this?” His motto is nothing ventured, nothing lost.


Finally, any time he has to do something that has some risk, he spends most of his time figuring out what to say if it goes sour. Of course, the best thing to be able to say is, “I was uneasy about this but went along reluctantly. I handled it the same way we always handle things. I did it By The Book. I can only say I held up my end. Someone dropped the ball.”


Rich’s play calls for doing things the same way he always does them. He avoids all risk as much as possible and has an explanation for failure made up ahead of time. Sure, there is a more simple version of Rich’s play. Do not do anything new or innovative and try hard to keep others from making that mistake. When in doubt, do nothing and there is always room for doubt.


B-t-B players put most time and energy into worrying and keeping things the same.


For the B-t-B player, any change is a risky business. Any time there is change, there is some degree of uncertainty. This uncertainty makes it unclear how to cover one’s self and could require some change in the game plan. For the B-t-B player, the old ways are always the best ways because they are familiar and usually work. Risk to the player is minimal – the player’s bottom line. Any change is risky and must be avoided.


B-t-B players never do anything quickly


Timing is everything. For the successful player, timing is the only thing. Those who are aspiring but not yet accomplished B-t-B players think timing has to do with making the right move at the right time. The experienced player knows better. Timing has to do with nothing but not making the wrong move. Better safe than sorry is the motto of the expert B-t-B player. It is a simple truth that one seldom receives criticism for what he does not do. It is also true things usually work out in a non-negative way so long as no one interferes. It does not matter what positive outcomes have been precluded so long as things do not get worse. Put this wisdom together and you can easily see why the player figures that it is best to put off decisions and actions as long as possible. The logic is sound. You only need to accept the premise that calls for the safety and no risk life of the B-t-B player.


The key to using the technique is knowing how to postpone everything. Having a few tricks will be helpful. Here are some things to say if push comes to shove:


•           Let me get back to you on this one


•           Get me some more hard data


•           Give me a couple of days to give this one a closer look


•           Better safe than sorry


•           This may seem like a little project, but I think your being involved makes it important enough to go slowly


If the pressure builds up, taking it up the ladder, taking it to a staff meeting, or requesting a written recommendation are useful. If it is already in writing, the player asks for a summary or a more detailed proposal, depending on what is not readily available. The goal is to put the whole thing off as long as possible without seeming to be resistive or less than supportive. Many times, everyone just gives up before having to jump through the hoops.


There is a story about a government type who always asks for written requests. The eager staffers prepare their requests in a few days. The day after they turn them in, the bureaucrat gives the requests back with a demand for more data. This process cycles at least three times. At that point, he reads the proposals. The next step is for him to edit the paperwork and give it back to the staffers. This cycles for two or three rounds and then he refers the proposal to either a staff meeting or up the ladder. From there, the game goes on until the staffers give up, quit, or the idea is out of date. The player’s rule is that nothing is so urgent it cannot wait.


B-t-B players avoid responsibility


For these players, not accepting responsibility is axiomatic but let’s elaborate. The challenge for the player is not to give his game away. Success in the organization depends on being seen as accepting responsibility. The more responsibility the player’s superiors think he accepts, the more likely the player will get promotions and more responsibility.

How can the player get the benefits of accepting responsibility without taking on the liabilities? It is actually fairly easy.


First, the player does everything necessary to get into a position of authority or leadership. At lower levels, this happens by volunteering to head projects, chair committees, or anything else that makes other people responsible to the B-t-B player.


The next trick is to delegate all tasks or decisions to those under the player. If things work out well – and they usually will – the player smiles and gives the credit to those who did the work. Of course, everyone can see that this classy person is quite a manager and is definitely someone who can handle responsibility.

If things do not go well, a fixed B-t-B rule says never blame your subordinates. The skilled player says, “My people gave it all they had. They are a great group. It was just a little beyond their reach this time. They have what it takes, though. They will do nothing but get better.” Notice how the B-t-B player stays close but just a little above his people. The failure is not their fault and they will do better next time. Of course, the failure has nothing to do with the player himself. The trick here is to be the leader and not part of those people who are responsible.

Sure, the player will need more people, more resources, and probably a bigger title to get the job done next time. It also is as sure as oil going up the wick that there will be a next time.


B-t-B players take no chances


The FastChip Corporation is a small computer supply business catering to the home computer market. Its location in a large shopping center gives the store a lot of traffic and a high percentage of small cash-and-carry sales. The rest of the sales are in the area of $1,000 to $3,000. These larger sales are hardware.

The store policy is not to sell their display stock. If there is not stock in the back, the customer gets a 5 percent discount and delivery within twenty-four hours. This assures that each customer sees the full line.

On Monday, December 1, the store’s policies are a problem. An aircraft manufacturer experiences a power disaster that brings down its computer system. As an interim measure, it sends out for thirty-two PC systems. The disaster makes the need urgent.


Rick, the FastChip manager, receives a personal visit from the manufacturer’s buyer. The offer is to buy the twelve systems in stock for 90 percent of the retail price. This takes the systems on display and those in the back.


Rick has a problem. Should he follow the store’s policies or make a $17,000 sale? Of course, this is not a problem for a B-t-B player like Rick. His first step is to tell the buyer that it will take until 3 p.m. to get a decision. From 11 a.m. when the offer comes, Rick stews over the decision and tries to contact the owner. At 3:30 p.m. when the buyer calls him, Rick tells the buyer they cannot help out this time.

It is a triple play of sorts. Rick puts off dealing with the issue, worries about it, and then opts to play it safe.


What does the owner say when Rick tells him about the missed deal? Do not be silly! B-t-B players never tell, unless it is on someone else. Even if the owner finds out later, Rick can assure him that he tried to contact him. He also can reference store policy and honestly share how much he worried about and struggled with the decision. B-t-B players are, if nothing else, company people. The worst part is that Rick is sure he made the right decision. Better safe than sorry!

How To Matter 013 – April 3 2016 – How To Matter

April 3rd, 2016 by Gary Crow


“Respect a man, and he will do all the more.” — John Wooden


Demonstrate your respect for and pleasure with the successes and accomplishments of other people. The key here is twofold. You respect the achievements of others and actively demonstrate that respect and the pleasure you experience when they do well. Respect in this context includes holding the other person and the action or accomplishment in high esteem, feeling delighted, and actively expressing approval.

How To Matter 012 – April 1 2016 – How To Matter

April 1st, 2016 by Gary Crow


This is a special episode of How To Matter. If it had its own title, I would call it Moving On. It has a very useful message for April Fool’s Day. Click the play button and decide for yourself.


How To Matter 011 – March 30 2016 – How To Matter

March 31st, 2016 by Gary Crow


“Courage, it would seem, is nothing less than the power to overcome danger, misfortune, fear, injustice, while continuing to affirm inwardly that life with all its sorrows is good; that everything is meaningful even if in a sense beyond our understanding; and that there is always tomorrow.” — Dorothy Thompson


Resist the temptation to either focus on what is not going well or on what is. It may be a function of human nature to attend mostly to the negative or to the positive, depending on one’s personality; but you understand that this is not a simple matter of choice or personal preference. The key to success is seeing that neither focusing on the positive nor on the negative is advisable.


At a more fundamental level, the reality is that things are continuously transitioning from a past state to a future state. Your primary responsibility is to affect the transition so as to actualize the desired future state. To do this, the task is to reduce and eliminate the disparity between the present and future states, without redefining or compromising the desired future state. Your focus then needs to be on the cluster of elements that affect the future state either as contributors or as detractors, understanding that neither is more or less important than the other. Focus must be on the gestalt.

How To Matter 010 – March 29 2016 – How To Matter

March 29th, 2016 by Gary Crow


“We must exchange the philosophy of excuse for the philosophy of responsibility.” — Barbara Jordan


Holding people responsible and accountable on the one hand and blaming and accusing them on the other are not the same. Holding someone responsible is a performance standard. Holding them accountable is a performance expectation. Alternatively, blaming and accusing imply negative opinions and perceptions of the individual.

To blame someone or accuse them represents a pejorative assessment of them. Blaming and accusing are always subjective and personal while responsibility and accountability are performance elements that can be objectively evaluated and, if necessary, adjusted. Since other people are accountable for their performance, the level of responsibility extended to them may be increased or decreased, depending on their performance. To blame or accuse are counterproductive. Holding people responsible and accountable are key elements in your approach with people. It starts with holding yourself responsible and accountable and then simply extending the principle to other people.

How To Matter 009 – March 28 2016 – How To Matter

March 28th, 2016 by Gary Crow


“Praise out of season, or tactlessly bestowed, can freeze the heart as much as blame.” — Pearl S. Buck


You aren’t stingy with praise nor are you lavish with it. You are quick to recognize and acknowledge the successes and accomplishments of others but don’t confuse praise with simple good manners. Please and thank you and noting that someone did a good job or was helpful are not examples of praise. They are, rather, merely examples of good manners and are integral to your habitual deportment. Alternatively, praise is an intentional and thoughtful action which privately or publicly acknowledges and commends excellence. You reserve praise for exceptional or extraordinary performance, never missing an opportunity to praise when anyone meets that standard.

How To Matter 008 – March 23 2016 – How To Matter

March 23rd, 2016 by Gary Crow


“Anything in life that we don’t accept will simply make trouble for us until we make peace with it.” — Shakti Gawain


Accept people as is. Your goal isn’t to change anyone. Rather, you focus on encouraging and facilitating in ways that enable each person to achieve optimal performance within the context of their skills, abilities, and interests. Concurrently, you expect people to expand and improve their capacities and are ready to help with that process however you can. People aren’t expected to change but are expected to grow and develop.

How To Matter 007 – March 22 2016 – How To Matter

March 22nd, 2016 by Gary Crow


“Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy.” — Brian Tracy


This is no less true when we expect other people to succeed, expect them to do things correctly, expect them to give everything they do their best effort. You are surprised when other people make mistakes, give things less than their best effort, don’t succeed. Since you expect success, you assume personal responsibility for mistakes of others, lackluster effort, non-success. Your first take on the situation is that you haven’t been smart enough or skilled enough to effectuate the right outcome. You then work with the person to identify the deficiencies. You modify your performance so that you better facilitate the other person’s success.

How To Matter 006 – March 18 2016 – How To Matter

March 19th, 2016 by Gary Crow


“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.” — Margaret Mead


Have a high tolerance for and acceptance of differing personalities, traits and characteristics, personal styles, individual values and beliefs, and for the idiosyncrasies of people. Similarly, carefully manage fluctuations in people’s moods, points of view, and interests. Alternatively, have little tolerance for sub-standard work, less than complete attention to the task at hand, or lackluster performance. You always give your best effort and expect others to do the same.

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