Are You Leading With Your Stomach?

It shouldn’t be a surprise to discover overweight employees who smoke and have high blood pressure spend more on health-care premiums than their slim, tobacco-free coworkers. Harvard Business Review in their Daily Stat – reports a study by Bain & Company – – says the cost is $800 more a year. However, Safeway is a leader of a new wave of self-insured companies controlling health-care costs by giving employees financial incentives to get healthy, according to Bain & Company. Safeway’s recent year-over-year health-care costs showed a nearly zero percent increase.

If you’re a leader, are you leading by example when it comes to your health? Do you lead with your stomach sticking way out or do you demonstrate fitness is part of leadership? Business lunches may be a perk as you climb the ladder but they take a toll on your quality of life later on. Take charge of your health as part of your life balance.

Garth Roberts               

Are Rules Only Made for Some of Us?

I came across an interesting blog post from Chem-Free Cleaning Ltd this weekend. By following up on a meeting with Mari Lou Apolinario at a trade show in Okotoks, Alberta,, I learned more about chemicals than I really wanted to know. The interesting, read as disturbing, revelation is many companies and government agencies don’t have to follow the rules. Maybe you’re not surprised but in reading Mari Lou’s blog from April,, I was shocked to hear who doesn’t have to follow the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA). According to the blog, Foods served to hospital cafeterias, airplanes, foods served in bulk, medical foods, foods for patients with certain diseases are not required to follow the NLEA laws in providing a nutritional label.”


If your business decided to quit following the rules of legislation, you’d soon find out you’re not special. Probably the full weight of government would come down on you, yet exceptions are made without apparent rhyme or reason. Hospitals! No wonder common lore says avoid hospitals if you want to stay healthy.

I’m of the belief rules and policies should be put in place with purpose, and then followed. If they don’t have a purpose, get rid of them. Have you checked your company rules and policies lately? Which ones should you get rid of, rather than just being like the government and ignoring them?

Check out Chem-Free Cleaning Ltd via the blog. It’s an interesting example of an entrepreneur being in one business (cleaning homes and offices) and developing a new business based on quality (chemical free products). Mari Lou’s customer recognized her superior product and asked to buy it in bulk. I’ve tried a sample and am sold on its quality.

Garth Roberts

Do You Lead Like You Parent?

The rice crispy square was almost as big as he was – almost. His Mom gave it to him while she waited for the specialty drink she ordered.  A rice crispy square with a hot chocolate and a mound of whipped cream. Now there’s a true breakfast of champions for a two-year-old.  

“Well, young man, let’s have a look at that mouth.”

Can’t you just picture the look of horror on a dentist’s face as a three or four-year-old’s cavity ridden molars come into view?

However, let’s be fair, the sugar bar and hot chocolate had a purpose. Silence while Mom sat and texted, pecking away with one finger. She’s obviously new at texting, untrained in both social media and parenting through healthy eating.

Over the years I’ve met a few supervisors and managers who lead like this Mom parents. “

“Give ‘em what they want and they won’t bother me!”

Leading, like parenting, involves making hard choices, providing positive role modeling, and taking the “high-road” for the greater good of your people and your company.

Self-Management Beats Time Management

I just discovered the time management seminar I was supposed to deliver as been canceled. It’s okay by me. The material belonged to someone else and it could be improved greatly, plus I’ve lost my enthusiasm when it comes to talking about time management. Let’s face it, it’s not time management, it’s self-management.

You and I both get 24 hours each day and we can use it as we see fit. We can’t manage that 24 hours, we can only use it. It’s how we use it that makes a difference. So, it’s self-management. During past seminars on self-management many people have resisted the concept they are responsible for what they achieve each and every day. It’s easier to blame someone else. Over 2000 years ago Greek Playwright, Asechylus, said, “Everyone’s quick to blame the alien”, and we’ve been doing it ever since.

Today is April 20th, 2010. How are you using your 24 hours? What do you have on your agenda for tomorrow and the rest of the week? Is your non-productivity someone else’s fault? Does your productivity belong to someone else? I think not. It all belongs to you.

Garth Roberts               

How Do You Cope With Change?

“We expect around 11,000 flights to take place today in European airspace. On a normal day, we would expect 28,000,” said Kyla Evans, a spokeswoman for Eurocontrol.

17,000 flights cancelled translates to thousands of lives affected by a natural occurrence. Having watched behaviour in airports when flights are cancelled I know that some people can cope and other just can’t. How about you? If you’re one of the many affected by sudden change, do you cope well?

Leaders cope! The may not like change any better than the majority, but they learn change is the only constant in business and in life. A leader’s ability to instigate change, accept change and benefit from change is one of his or her greatest assets. True leaders anticipate change so they are ready to inspire and lead their people through change. Are you a true leader or are you a reactionary leader, just waiting for the world to happen to you.

I enjoy change … most of the time. How about you?

Garth Roberts

Give Advice Cautiously

Recently I heard a talk show host telling a mother to turf her 18-year-old son out the door and to be prepared to not have contact for a year or more. My heart ached for both the mother and the son and I couldn’t help think that the radio host was as dense as a brick. Of course, I have a real problem with the validity of problem solving in 30 seconds over the phone. Here’s a life-altering situation, so hey, let me tell you how to shape up based on my need to give advice!

 Run your business this way and see how it works. You have a concern that is life altering and you call me, toss some half-truths, a few facts, and a one-sided story at me and I toss back the definitive solution for your million dollar dilemma. Does that make you feel secure? I doubt it.

 Now I didn’t hear the whole story from the mother but I know, as a parent, I’m in for the long haul, and some days it has seemed like a real long haul. My son and I have had some tough times when he was in his late teens and early 20s. But, as the country song says, “That’s my job”. I’m the parent and it is my job to help guide my child through the troubled waters of youth.

 In our society we have put magic markers on certain birthdays.

 “When they’re eighteen, they’re out of the house.”

 Have you heard that one? While I did go away to school when I was eighteen, I could have stayed at home on the farm and I wouldn’t have been shoved out to live in the barn. My parents home was always there for me and my parents were always there to listen, advise and converse.

 In tough times, as a parent or as a business owner, we all need to recognize that help is available. A trusted friend, a mentor or a specialist can provide the appropriate advice and be a catalyst for growth and change. Turfing the perceived problem out the door is not a valid solution. Even the most reluctant participant in a problem solving situation can be brought into the “moving forward” mode with the appropriate guidance. Giving up is not guidance.

In many of my sessions with managers, supervisors and executives it’s been evident the forward path wasn’t in anyone’s mind. It took creativity on my part to bring the participants to the table. It also took time, some setbacks and perseverance. Nothing happens instantly. Hurricanes, tornados and instant breakfast all take time to prepare before they’re unleashed on the world.

Let’s go back to the instant solution radio host. Yes, this person has a degree. Whoopee! Some of the dumbest people I’ve ever met I met when I was getting my degree. A degree, while it does suggest some knowledge, is really only the mark of tenacity. Stick around long enough and complete the assignments, you’ll get your degree.

The next time you’re inclined to give instant advice, stop and consider the consequences. Do you really have all the facts? Do you know both sides of the story? Are you really the best person to coach or mentor?

While it may be an ego boost to give sage advice, it’s also a responsibility. Take your responsibilities seriously. Advice has to have validity and value to the receiver, not just radio or ego ratings for you.

Garth Roberts