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4 Better than Average Ways to be Honest

Abraham LincolnDo you know what’s missing from today’s businesses? Brutal honesty. We’re so sensitive these days that we pussyfoot around the truth. We dance along the margins. We play among the muck.

The majority of today’s businesses and organizations are mediocre because we fail to be honest with ourselves, our management, and our customers.

We say, “Good job,” knowing it’s really crap. We say, “Let’s examine it further,” knowing it will be black holed. We say, “Send me a proposal,” knowing it will be sent to the circular file.

Be honest.

It’s crap. Start again.

It’s not going to work. Sorry.

We’re not interested. Thanks anyway.

Stop pretending to care. Stop feigning interest. Stop agreeing when you don’t.

Steve Jobs would tell you your idea sucks. Not that I knew him, but it seems like he is the type of guy that wouldn’t pat you on the head, tell you that it was a good try, and send you on your merry way. He would be honest. If it sucked, he said so. He wouldn’t raise your hopes, only to dash them behind your back. He would crush your dreams as you held them in your hand. Right or wrong, he gave his honest opinion.

Simon Cowell is another figure who will tell you his honest opinion. Sure, some of it is for show, but much of it is the truth. He does it as a favor to the aspiring starlets not out of spite, but out of compassion so they don’t waste more of their efforts.


Four Better than Average ways to be Honest

  1. State your stance – Verify that the person is open and receptive to your feedback.  Once agreeable, begin with, “I feel…” or something similar. Then give your truth. She can’t argue with your feelings. You feel how you feel. Do you ask permission to provide your thoughts?
  2. Stop the spin – If you see groupthink starting to occur, speak up. When the minions are simply agreeing with the leader, offer a contrarian point of view. Even if you don’t truly believe it, throw it out there as a “what if?” It will help cover the issue from all angles. Did you think of the flipside?
  3.  Establish expectations – If you are in a situation where you want the truth, set rules that encourage it. Guidelines like, “there are no wrong answers” or “we’re not looking to blame anyone, we want to improve” or “I really need your input to make a decision”, set the context so that everyone can dance in their own brilliance. Do you lay the ground rules for truth?
  4. Create a culture – If you want to establish a place of openness, honesty, and truth, create the culture encouraging it. Develop a space that is free from spin, buzzwords, and double talk. Remove any repercussions for truth telling. Hire those who speak their mind. And fire those who don’t play by the rules. What can you do to encourage honesty?

We’re all adults. (I trust that not many children read this blog.) Not everyone gets a trophy. Sometimes there isn’t a cherry on top. And every now and then, tough love is the right medicine.

Stop the bullshit. Be honest. It will save time, money, effort, and dreams.



When was the last time you told someone the truth?


For a list of 16 Easy, No Cost Ways to Express Gratitude on a Daily Basis shoot me an email and you score it for free!


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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9 Better than Average Tips for Workplace Productivity

Workplace Productivity Need to find ways to be more productive at work? Overburdened and nearing burn out at the office due to overwhelming demands? Can’t possibly get everything done?


But I am expected to be available, reachable, and connected, you say. But you are also expected to be productive. You are expected to get your work completed – on time and accurate. If you aren’t able to get your work done, how can you be productive?

Silence is the new noise. Turn down the distractions to turn up the production. When you really have to get something done now, disconnect.

The Better than Average use these workplace productivity tips daily to get more output, quicker results, and keep their sanity.

9 Ways to be More Productive at Work

  1. Close Your Email – Many surveys suggest that email is the number one workplace distraction. However, I’m guessing that “checking email” is not your primary job description. Email is not an urgent form of communication, so anyone who uses it as such doesn’t know how to properly communicate. Therefore, you shouldn’t need to incessantly check it. Nor jump every time a little bubble pops up in the lower right corner of your screen notifying you of a message. Close the inbox. Get your work done. If you need to respond to messages, find the “disconnect from server” setting and work offline while you compose your replies. Why do you need to instantly reply?
  2. Turn Off the Phones – Forward the phone to voicemail. Turn off the cell phone. There’s nothing like a ringing phone with a harried caller to redirect your attention from your work. They can leave a message. Or call back later. Or, better yet, call someone else. That kills two pigs with one bird – they are not squatting on your phone and you don’t need to return a call. What should go to voicemail?
  3. Close Your Browser – The grand thing about the Internet is that there are limitless distractions – news sites, social media sites, gossip sites, shopping sites, video sites, you name it. But when you are trying to get something done, the last thing you need to do it putter away your day distracted by the World Wide Web. Like a Pandora’s Box, once it is open, there is no stopping it. So don’t open the browser. Just…don’t…do…it. If you really have no discipline, get a program that will actually block you from opening the browser or limit your viewing to certain sites. Why do you need to see that status update right now?
  4. Shun Visitors – Tell them to go away. Nicely, of course. Offer a better time when they might be able to speak with you. Or have them send you a brief email about their needs. Take a rolling whiteboard and place it at the entrance of your cube to act as a door. Draw a knob if you are so inclined. If it is purely a social visit, explain that you are busy and offer to catch up later. They will understand. Was that last conversation important?
  5. Limit the List – If your To Do List reads longer than War and Peace, that’s a problem. Sure, we all have stuff that we need to do. But what needs to get done today? Limit the list to two to three main items. Do those items first when you arrive with a completion preferably before lunch. I try to put one main task on the list per day, with a usual maximum of two large tasks. If there are multiple, small critical tasks, I’ll let the list length slide to three or four. However, all of them should be able to be completed with relative confidence. As things arise throughout the day, they go on the longer term list, to be placed on future daily lists. What two items will you complete tomorrow?
  6. Be Selective – Do you really need to attend that meeting? Do you need to stay for the entire conference call or could you ask to go first, get your items out of the way and move on? Is someone else better suited to reply to that email? Are you letting others waste your time? Your time is valuable. Treat it as such. Scrutinize requests for your engagement. What is your time worth?
  7. Block Time – Put blocks of time in your calendar to get work done. When you look at the day ahead, if there are open slots, fill them with appointments with yourself. Use this time to crank out that project. Complete the items on your longer term To Do list. Think creatively for a moment. Whatever you need to do – use this time to get work done. Don’t allow people to schedule same-day meetings unless it is truly urgent. How much time do you have in your schedule now?
  8. Change the Scenery – Get outside of your cube. Go to the cafeteria. Or a conference room. Or a local Starbucks. Get away from the desk to help you focus on the work that needs to get done. If they can’t find you, they can’t distract you. It might even help you with creativity. Where will you hide?
  9. Run Away – If you are working on a large project and need extended time to focus on this output, take time away from your usual environment. Maybe work at home. Or at a hotel. Or at the library. Leave notifications that you will be out of the office working on a special project for the next few days. It will naturally keep the distractions down and minimize the additional burdens when you return. Where will you go?

Now, close your browser and go get something done.

 (photo courtesy of Flower Factor on Flickr)



Paraphrasing from Ferris Bueller, “What? You’re still here? Go on.”


For the awesome first chapter of the #1 best selling book Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World, send an email to me and you score it for free!


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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Hark! Ye’ Ol’ Philosophy Card

Better than Average Philosophy CardPhilosophy didn’t die with the downfall of the Grecian Empire. Just because the Acropolis is in ruins doesn’t mean personal beliefs are shattered. Where does it state philosophy can only be created by old men wrapped in bed sheets?

Each of us already has our own personal philosophy somewhere inside. How we live our lives. How we treat our customers. How we run our businesses. It’s already part of us.


But when was the last time you consciously thought about your philosophy?

Clearly articulating your personal philosophy makes you stand out from the crowd. Not many people sit down, put fingers to keyboard, and root their beliefs for the world to see.

If you have read my book, Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World, seen one of my speeches, or sat with me at 30,000 feet while crossing the country, you have seen these principles in action.

If you’re a first-timer or passerby, welcome, and here is what I believe.


The Better than Average Philosophy

  1. Stand out, not stick out.
  2. It doesn’t need to be grand to be glorious.
  3. Position is irrelevant to potential.
  4. Average is average for a reason.
  5. Richness comes to those who punch their own ticket.
  6. Work where you’re needed, not where you deserve.
  7. Create your own truths.
  8. Value leads to loyalty.
  9. Greater gratitude and less gimme gimme.
  10. Match strengths to best practices.
  11. You have in your power the ability to change your world now.

How do I make a Philosophy Card?

If you want to make your own philosophy card, answer the following question.

If you could have the world any way you wanted, what would it look like, feel like and be like in every way? List out your responses. Each statement completes the sentence, “I believe…”

Your responses are your philosophy.

Print it on some glossy card stock and you are in business!


What do I do with it?

  • Pass it out in addition to your business card
  • Use it as a handout
  • Challenge others to make their own cards

Average people have business cards. The Better than Average carry philosophy cards.

Next time someone hands you his business card, hand him your philosophy card (and a business card).

The world needs more transparency, honest conversation, and open books.  Let them read you and they will respond.


The idea for the philosophy card came from a fellow author and speaker, Scott Ginsberg. You may read more about him on his site here.



What do you stand for?


Worldwide visibility. If you create a philosophy card and send it to me, I will include it in a future post. I bet you won’t do it.


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]



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The Future of Association Membership Retention Programs

Membership Retention StrategiesThe future of association and organization membership retention programs is based on game theory. That’s right, playing games with your members will become the fundamental membership retention method of the next 25 years

Gone are the days when arduous certificated programs alone will motivate members to remain. Gone are the days when a sense of duty is enough to stay. Gone are the days when automatic engagement is anticipated.

The future of association membership retention is through small activities that engage the membership. Like the merit badges of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, short-duration, fundamental, focused efforts will earn rewards. The beauty of Scouting is that there are practically a gazillion badges to earn and umpteen different ways to do them. How many merit badges do you offer?


Why Game Theory?

Let’s look at your membership demographics. What is their history? Your youngest members grew up on gaming consoles. For Gen Y’ers and Millennials, it was a chicken in every pot, a car in every garage, and an Xbox/Playstation/Nintendo on every TV.

Other members have taken up plows at Farmville, been decked out in bling in Bejeweled, or flung fowl at green pigs through Angry Birds.

People like playing games. People like easy. People like rewards. It’s really that simple. Why doesn’t your membership retention strategy involve game play?


We have a certification program. Isn’t that good enough?

Organizational certifications are important and worthwhile. But they also take time and (sometimes huge) effort to earn. In a world where few have enough time, resources, or drive to work toward big certificated programs, we have the opportunity to engage members on a more focused, incremental, and meaningful level.

I’m not arguing for the abolition of advanced organizational certifications. Quite the opposite. They certainly have a place. If you are the industry recognized leader in that type of program, by all means, keep it going. What I’m saying is that we need some incremental, easy to do rewards between membership levels of Fledgling and Grand Pooh-Bah.


Engagement Means Retention

As we know, the key to membership retention is engagement. Perform a study of your members and measure their engagement with your organization. You will probably see a correlation to member engagement and longevity. However, there is probably a drop off point. Those members who are highly engaged might be getting burned out. There is a happy medium with active engagement, but not too much.


How Do We Build Engagement?

Look at the rise of games like Castleville, World of Warcraft, and Empire Avenue. They are designed for easy, incremental play over time. As you complete more actions through the game, you earn rewards.

Like games, reward members for specific organizational exchanges. Get them to Like your Facebook page.  Tweet a promo of your upcoming conference. Let members earn “points” redeemable for “stuff”. Yes, “stuff” is a technical term.

These interactions start the cycle of engagement. The more engaged they are, the longer they’ll stay. If you build it, they may come. But if you engage them, they will stay.



How are you rewarding your members?


For the awesome first chapter of the #1 best-selling book Better than Average: Excelling in a Mediocre World, send an email to me and you score it for free!


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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How to Create Relevant Value

triptikAs companies, organizations, and associations continue to struggle with the economy, there has been a ton of focus recently on “value creation”.  Loosely defined, value creation is your actions, outputs, and results which increase your worth.

As such, your company, organization, or association most likely offers “value.” But the better question is do you offer “relevant value”? In other words, can your members, customers, and employees clearly see those values which you profess and match them to benefit their situation, circumstance, and well-being?

As the world changes and evolves, so do your customers, members, and employees. What worked last year may not work this year. What was successful five years ago may not be feasible today. Do the benefits you offered yesterday still matter to the members, customers, and employees of today?

Let’s break the term “relevant value” down into its parts.

Relevant is from the Latin relevare meaning “to lessen, lighten”. Your goal as an organization is to make it easy for your customers, members, and employees. Your products, services, and results should be easy to understand, use, and interpret. They should make life simpler, straightforward, and more sincere. Are you being a burden to your customers?

Value comes from the Latin valere defined as “be strong, be well”. Members, customers, and employees, should find incredible benefit from your services. If they find only so-so benefit, when a membership term expires, a contract ends, or someone else comes along with a perceived better offer, they will jump ship. Value leads to loyalty. Loyalty leads to longevity. Are you offering a strong proposition to your customers?

What is relevancy today?

Being relevant isn’t simply a matter of creating a Facebook page and a blog. It means connecting with your customers, employees, and members on their level – how and when they choose to engage.

There are only two components to being relevant:

  1. There is a clear match between benefit and circumstance.
  2. It must be simple and easy to implement.

Once you discover those elements, you will be able to offer relevant value. How do you get their attention?

Do you matter?

Yesterday, everyone was issued a Blackberry at work. Today, you bring whatever device you want.

Yesterday, you needed to visit a record store to buy music. Today, you download it.

Yesterday, you had to sit through TV commercials. Today, you fast forward.

In the age of GPS, are you still offering TripTiks?



How do you demonstrate relevant value?


For a list of 16 Easy, No Cost Ways to Express Gratitude on a Daily Basis shoot me an email and you score it for free!


Todd Brockdorf
Better than Average Guy
#1 Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Thought Leader
[email protected]

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