Are You A Lifelong Learner?

Last night, for the first time in a long time, I conducted a continuing education class in business writing. Eight participants showed up to learn how to improve their business writing skills. As I went around the room to discover why they were in the class, I was pleased to learn how many of them are lifelong learners. Only a couple of people were there because their boss or supervisor suggested that they be there. I like it when people come to class because they want to be there not because they have to be there.

The term “lifelong learner” has been around for a long time and more and more I see people in all types of jobs expanding their education. That bodes well for the workforce. In a previous blog I talked about the concept of having a workforce that’s made up of innovators in North America. We can’t be the innovators if we aren’t continually learning and expanding our minds. How about you, what was the last program or course you took? Why did you take it? How did it help you? I look forward to your comments.

Garth Roberts

Have you had a Fierce Conversation lately?

Conversation makes the world go round. Good conversation makes life an incredible journey. Leaders who understand the art of conversation tend to be inspiring leaders. If you’re struggling with your conversations or if you just want to continually improve, I recommend Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

I learned a long time ago that how I talk has a direct impact on how effective I am as a leader. Only recently have I discovered Susan’s book and I know my conversation skills have gotten even better since I began applying her principles.

Fierce Conversations is all about achieving success at work and in life, one conversation at a time. If you want to learn how to interrogate reality, come out from behind yourself, and to take responsibility for your emotional wake, pick up this book.

To learn more about fierce conversations, check out

Garth Roberts

Spam in leadership

This blog has become the target of spam artists who seem to feel it’s their right to inflict their brand of internet “marketing” on the unsuspecting masses. Fortunately this is a moderated blog so I can eliminate the spam before it’s published. The one bright side of spam intrusion is it prompted me to look at the concept of “spam leaders” in business.

Do you know of any leaders who toss out directions or advise with the same focus and accuracy as our spammers?

Unfortunately I’ve met too many leaders who “spam” their offices with mindless directions, advise, opinions and self-important pronouncements. None of which increase productivity or encourage empowerment of the rest of the office.

So, are you a leadership spammer? I certainly hope not. From my perspective the most effective way to ensure you aren’t viewed as spam is to do three little things: plan, communicate and follow-up.

In my presentations and when consulting I prod clients to spend time planning before doing anything else. I’ve had one frontline leader say, “But Garth, you don’t understand. We don’t have time to plan around here … but we do have time to do it over again tomorrow.” He had a smile on his face to suggest that he was joking, but planning wasn’t one of his leadership skills.

Think about it for a minute. If you stopped for 30-seconds to plan what you’re going to say to a boss, client or colleague, how much time would save? No confusion in what you wanted or what you expected. No other person wondering what you really meant. No repeat of a task or project. I’ve heard estimates that 1/3 to 2/3rds of what done in offices every day is redo. Even if it’s only 10%, that still a huge saving of time over a year and that time translates into money.

While it’s true that planning takes time, simple logic tells us it saves more time that it uses. So, what tools do you use to help you plan? I use Outlook to keep me on track and I supplement that with a paper daytimer for those times when my computer isn’t around. In the past few years I’ve been more consistent in my planning and have forced myself to stick to each plan, or justify to myself why I should change. Guess what, I’ve noticed a marked increase in my productivity and effectiveness.

As to the other two elements of my productivity trio – communication and follow-up – more on that in my next post.