December 2018 – Letters From Lisa

Lately, I have been reading about the nine dimensions of a healthy community as developed by the Blandin Foundation. Interestingly, what I have discovered is that many of these are the same dimensions of a healthy business. One of those is a focus on “environmental stewardship.” In my opinion, environmental stewardship equates to an ethic that embodies responsible planning, management and the use/sharing of resources to ensure global (defined however you desire) well-being.

Stewardship begins with ensuring individual well-being, transitions into a focus on team effectiveness, and ultimately leads to a need for global stewardship. At an individual level, stewardship focuses on promoting well-being for each person. A simple but impactful example of an act of stewardship occurred when a group of college classmates developed a social initiative to make their campus a happier place. They dispatched club members to go open doors for students as they entered major buildings around campus. After piloting this initiative at various locations, they discovered that their dedicated focus on individuals had a profound effect. Within a few days they could already notice that people on campus were happier than before. Preparing for the prolonged vitality of an organization begins with a focus on individuals, but leaders should continue their stewardship approach by acting at the team level. Leaders are stewards at the team level whenever they work to ensure individuals within the organization interact well with each other.

Once individual and team well-being has been addressed, our focus as a business leader needs to switch to the well-being of the global “community” that we are a part of on a daily basis. Investing in the people and causes that are important to build/support that community should be important to every business.

At BioZyme® , two of our causes very close to our hearts include youth involved with livestock and veterans. At first glance one would say those two groups of people have little in common, but that is not true. Most of the veterans are young and some were involved with livestock when they were younger. The young soldiers (veterans) chose to defend and protect the rights and freedoms that we enjoy in this amazing country. Our youth in livestock are the most comforting future leaders of this great country. Both are groups with harmonious tasks and roles. Sharing our resources with these two groups is an important blessing we cherish at BioZyme.

During the holiday season, more than at any other time, our hearts go out to others. I encourage you to give now, but to also give what you can regularly to the things that make a difference to your “community” and its global well-being. You may be surprised at the benefits you reap!

November 2018 – Letters from Lisa

WOWING, verb: “overwhelm with delight or amazement.”

A verb by its nature implies action and at BioZyme ® , we encourage action that drives a WOW, so it is wowing. Wowing things are unexpected and have a strong, pleasurable impact. After a wowing thing happens, the receiver mentally thinks WOW. That’s exactly what we want to do; quietly do things that we hope wow our team (that’s you) every day in every way. My letter this month shares six wowing moments. At this thankful time, I give thanks for all wowing moments. What are yours?

October 2018 – Letters From Lisa

PEOPLE DRIVE CULTURE. CULTURE DRIVES PERFORMANCE.

Let’s look at these sentences backwards. Business is all about performance, so business is all about culture. And therefore, business is all about people. I believe whole-heartedly that every business is not about its product, its location, or its finances. Businesses are about people.

I also believe EVERY person wants to do good and make others happy (pretty simple), but communication and personality routinely get in the way (pretty complex) of that. How we work through this dynamic is obviously very important since all a business really has to help it succeed is its people.

Finding more of the right people has been a challenge for BioZyme ® , so we have had to reach out for some help. A recruiting company we are working with suggested we implement their personality assessment system to screen potential hires. They encourage this approach because there is proof that assessment-based hiring is more profitable and productive. I was thinking this was a great idea and trying to figure out how to get it going when I stumbled across a “60 Minutes” episode on a guy who is cloning previously successful polo horses in Argentina. Luckily, we have quite a few folks I would like to clone. So, thinking in that frame of mind and then realizing the value of understanding who we might be hiring and how they fit into that team; I thought assessing our entire current team might be a great idea to advance this journey of simple/complex where people drive culture and culture drives performance.

The tool is called the Prism. It analyzes more than 50 human traits and skills across seven integrated modules, including: Primary Personality; Personality Under Pressure; Processing; Decision Making; Conflict Management; Motivation; and Fundamental Needs. It has been a great experience for us. Our coach used me and Alan Lee to help our team understand the results on all of these points. I won’t share them all with you, but I do want you to see a little bit of what he and I learned about each other (it won’t surprise you). We are completely different on three of the four processing measurements. As two visionaries who are very driven to grow our Company, understanding this about one another in concrete terms has been very helpful when working on opportunities.

I have learned four very useful things from this experience:

1. No two people are the exactly the same.

2. No one is exactly the same as me. Thank goodness I know, but this is important for me to remember so I walk in others’ shoes and then join our shoes together before making decisions.

3. Most people, but not all, act differently under pressure.

4. Self-reflection and then thinking about the reality of that reflection in how one operates are very important each and every second of every day when working with a team.

September 2018 – Letters from Lisa

Think outside of the box – be innovative!

In strategic planning sessions we’re often told to “think outside the box.” Neuroscientific research indicates that it becomes increasingly difficult to break out of our existing mindsets.

Therefore, thinking outside the box is never easy, nor is it a reflection of mental brightness. To leave your psychological comfort zone and explore “solutions in the unknown world on the outside requires large measures of mental agility, boldness, and creativity and/or an inspirational leader who makes life in the old box so uncomfortable that getting out is the only option.” So where does one start to get out of this box?

Make but Challenge Your Assumptions

Assumptions play a vital part in creative thinking. However, challenging those assumptions means questioning the everyday things you take for granted. “The best assumption to have is that any commonly held belief is wrong,” says Ken Olson, CEO of DEC. The natural thing to do is the thing you have always done. Every time you approach a problem you bring your accumulated experience, knowledge and training to the table. But this includes your accumulated assumptions and biases – conscious and unconscious. The more experienced you are, the more likely you are to assume outcomes by extrapolating from the known facts and experiences to predict a result. This mental baggage can prevent you from accepting innovative ideas. Don’t let that happen or you will be stuck in the box.

Ask Lots of Searching Questions

Don’t take anything for granted. Creativity requires an inquisitive mind. Unless you ask lots of “Why?” and “What If?” questions, you won’t generate the brainstorming a team needs to be innovative. Always try to look at the world through more inquisitive eyes to try and get ideas in motion.

Step Out of Your Shoes

Stepping out of your shoes and into the shoes of others may help you surface new insights to a problem. It seems us humans look at most every box through our own shoes.  Walking in the shoes of others and clearly assessing and understanding their perspective is a key to out of the box thinking.

Innovative, out of the box thinking is not easy but is perhaps one of the more important traits of a high growth, performing company. Force yourself to have the discipline to challenge, ask, listen and walk in different shoes.

August 2018 – Letters from Lisa

Continually learn

Everyone deserves to be great at what they do. That sentence sums up the need for business owners to be continually seeking information around the keys to high-performance organizations and training/developing their staff needs to support these keys.  In my career, I have found that whenever there is a challenge in a business that seems to be keeping it from being high performing, normal human nature immediately goes to the people in the equation.

At BioZyme® whenever we have a challenge (this of course does not happen often    ), I like to remind our team of how we need to think differently than this to ensure everyone gets to be great at what they do. Systems first, processes next and then people. Not people first.

Based on this approach we must first ask ourselves, do we have the systems in place to provide the information we need to support the processes that people can use to be great? If not, we need to take the time and make the investment in getting them before moving on. Amazing processes and amazing people without systems will not allow people to be great at what we do.

Once we have the systems in place, we need to ensure the processes that utilize these systems exist, have been taught and are being followed. By providing process training, you will enable one employee to pick up where another left off, keeping them all on the same page without having to provide constant help and supervision.

Now that the systems are in place and the processes exist, we can look to people. Remember that people are at fault last, not first. Don’t ever forget this if you believe that all people deserve to be great at what they do.

The importance of employee training to these systems and processes must not be underestimated. Ongoing training can be thought of as the best insurance policy against all sorts of the inevitable changes and the unforeseeable needs that will arise in these systems and processes.

Keeping focused on systems first, processes next and then people is a simple way to grow your company. People who are great at what they do will rocket you to where you want to go!

June/July 2018 – Letters from Lisa

Courage to Grow

The theme of our recent Dealer Retreat was the Wizard of Oz – Courage to Grow. I know what you are thinking, how can a 1939 movie classic be the business tale of 2018? The answer is found in the five points that are the key take-aways, if you choose to follow the yellow brick road all the way to the Emerald City.

Embrace and value the journey

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends embark on an incredible journey. As a business owner, you are also on an incredible journey. The challenges and victories on the journey are a part of your story, tell it every chance you get. The reason for this is that stories stick with people and have an impact on how they perceive the brand, your culture and whether they want to be a part of your journey.

Realize that things aren’t always what they seem

Dorothy and her friends are stunned when they discover that the Wizard was far from the powerful figure that they had expected him to be. Likewise, the stumbling blocks that your business faces may not be what you think they are. Solutions to business challenges seldom lie in looking at them through the same lens as you have always done. Innovation, creativity, and fundamental changes (yes you might need to change) may be necessary for your business to grow. Those things that seem to be great challenges may not be what they seem when approached in a new way with a fresh perspective.

Don’t be cowardly

Success in business comes from being courageous not cowardly like the lion. One must be courageous enough to search for new opportunities, even if it means a big departure from how you have done business in the past. In business, we are unfortunately, occasionally, subjected to naysayers – people who don’t get us, try to bring our spirit down, and bring us back to “reality.” It isn’t easy to find the courage to overcome all of this, but the alternative is to manage from fear. Fear destroys one’s opportunity for growth. Courage is one of the most important assets to have in a business.

Have a heart

The Tin Man lacked a heart, which is another way of saying that he lacked the energy, emotion and inspiration to lead his life in the way that he wanted. Business is all about energy and it flows down. As a leader, you must find a way to build a culture that engages people with energetic enthusiasm. Employees who feel heard, valued and respected work with much more enthusiasm and energy than those who don’t. They are also more likely to stick around because they love where they work.

Embrace the fact that brainpower matters

Take it from the Scarecrow – it takes work to become smarter. Developing the brains to drive change in your business means committing to continually upgrading your own skills. As a business leader, developing new perspectives, awareness, and resources through coaching, training, and leadership development can help.

So, think yellow brick road, then embrace the journey. Along the path, do not be afraid to challenge yourself to look at your business in new ways. Innovative growth and positive change only come to those who have the skills, energy, and courage to improve themselves and do things differently. As business owners we are constantly going through peaks and valleys – having our good days and bad ones. And with every one of these, there’s a new witch along the road. Decide if you will let the witch be wicked or be Glinda the witch of opportunity.

May 2018 – Letters from Lisa

Young = Unproven = Fresh = IMPACT

Not to sound too girly, but for about two weeks I had needed to get my nails done (this new job just doesn’t allow time for such necessities).  Finally, I found a spot I could go and called to get in; no availability.  Seems it is “prom season” in St. Joseph and my offers for large tips for availability purposes got trumped. Thinking of the prom dynamic brought back many memories of the good ol’ days when I was not afraid of looking in the mirror, and my youthfulness allowed me to do many things that are not just glimpses of memories that I watch rotate by on my photo frame.

Why is youth so amazing? In my opinion, the greatest thing about young people is that they are unproven. I have never heard an 18-year-old say, “we already tried that, it didn’t work.” Or “that’s how we have always done things.”  Not having a past is a huge attribute, and one that all of us in business should embrace. Want to get futuristic insight or even today’s insight on anything – ask a young person. One warning: after asking you must listen and make change based on these suggestions. And you cannot say to yourself, that will never work, we have already tried that. I am serious, you must think “unproven.”  Ailee Langdon came to BioZyme as an intern last summer and impressed us so much with her work ethic and fresh ideas that we snatched her right up as a full-time employee so we could keep her freshness on our team.

This unproven characteristic allows young people to bring fresh ideas and fresh perspectives. Youth means a new way of thinking. Millennials (18 to 34) now outnumber boomers (51 to 69). Fast Company research suggests 68% of millennials say creating change is a personal goal, while only 42% of boomers do. There’s that word people hate, change. Young people are change agents. Embrace that. No matter whether they are customers, employees, interns or visiting for the day; we all need to think about how amazing “fresh” corn on the cob is.  Young people are even better. Cody Jensen came to BioZyme after being the President of the National Junior Hereford Association Board.  He had many fresh ideas on how we could better support show cattle and ended up driving the development of Sure Champ® Climate Control – a product that took the show world by storm last summer.

In all these scenarios there was impact. This impact does not come without commitment on the part of the Company. Training must be a part of your modus operandi as well as having processes that allow for the time to discuss, not just do. However, with that little bit of effort and if we embrace the incredible value of our youth, we will see significant IMPACT!  At BioZyme youth is a part of everything we do, not because it is easier (change is not easy) but because we are looking for care that comes full circle as our IMPACT!

Win the future – think youth!

April 2018 – Letters from Lisa

Engagement is needed from everyone for success – employees, customers, dealers, partners and the organization. The inset definition clearly shows that engagement can mean a lot of different things. And while April is Bob’s and my anniversary month, I do not consider myself any kind of expert on a formal agreement to get married. I am also routinely late, so understanding an arrangement to do something or go somewhere at a fixed time is not up my alley either. And my Mom always reminded me while growing up that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Therefore, just the mention of a fight or battle leads me to want to quit writing about that type of engagement. So, the only definition left is the action of engaging.  We all know I believe ACTION is the key to everything so engagement when it means action is right up my alley. To be engaged is to be fully absorbed and enthusiastic to the point one is easily and innately self-motivated to do the positive action needed for success.

A recent Gallup study indicated that when their clients actively pursued engagement, success soared to a ratio of 9:1 from 2:1, engaged to unengaged. Perhaps that’s why engagement’s use in the inset graph is moving up.

If engagement is so crucial to success, why do organizations pursue it so ineffectively? The answer is that becoming actively engaged is hard work—work that many cannot see affecting their bottom line on any kind of a time line. With this in mind, engagement as a successful business strategy takes a major commitment to ensure all (yes all) of the following exist:

  • Belief in the organizational vision and the success it will provide from every angle of the organization, but especially from the top,
  • Trust that is built by trusting others. This requires a basic belief in people, a belief that people are essentially trustworthy,
  • Accountable performance measures,
  • Communication that aligns actions with the overall business goals,
  • An effective recognition and reward system that involves verbal and/or written acknowledgment as well as a physical reward,
  • Frequent, clear and specific feedback that focuses on what is being done well and what needs improvement,
  • Leaders who are personally interested in and care about their team, and who elicit their input and opinions,
  • Integrity,
  • Team work,
  • An inclusive passion for WOWingness (internal & external).

Engagement is needed from everyone for success, but don’t diminish your role as the leader. Consultant Keith Ayers stresses that the role of great leaders is to get people excited about and committed to their organization’s vision. He explains: “Leaders are either increasing engagement, or they are decreasing it. There is no middle ground.” Don’t let yourself get stuck in the middle!

March 2018 – Letters from Lisa

Who makes a Company great?

According to Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great,” “Companies that make the change from good to great have no name for their transformation—and absolutely no program. They neither rant nor rave about a crisis—and they don’t manufacture one where none exists. They don’t “motivate” people—their people are self-motivated.” These facts became clear as Jim Collins and his research team completed a five-year project to determine what it takes to change a good company into a great one. They systematically scoured a list of 1,435 established companies to find every extraordinary case that made a leap from no-better-than-average results to great results. How great? After the leap, a company had to generate cumulative stock returns that exceeded the general stock market by at least three times over 15 years—and it had to be a leap independent of its industry. In fact, the 11 good-to-great companies that were found averaged returns 6.9 times greater than the market’s—more than twice the performance rate of General Electric under the legendary Jack Welch.

The surprising good-to-great list included such unheralded companies as Abbott Laboratories (3.98 times the market), Fannie Mae (7.56 times the market), Kimberly-Clark Corp. (3.42 times the market), Nucor Corp. (5.16 times the market), and Wells Fargo (3.99 times the market). One such surprise, the Kroger Co.—a grocery chain—bumped along as a totally average performer for 80 years and then somehow broke free of its mediocrity to beat the stock market by 4.16 times over the next 15 years. And it didn’t stop there. From 1973 to 1998, Kroger outperformed the market by 10 times.

What Collins found was that in each of these dramatic, remarkable, good-to-great transformations, the same things were found: There was no miracle moment. Instead, a down-to-earth, pragmatic, committed-to-excellence process—a framework—kept each company, its leaders and its people on track for the long haul.

Note, it takes a company, its leaders and its people to go from good to great…

A company – A great company works on what it is passionate about, what it can be the best at and what makes it money, not at just what makes it money.

Its leaders – leaders are just ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results, guided by determination to do whatever needs to be done to make the company great.

Its people – the “it” is the key. It is such a small word, just a couple of letters, but between the “i” and the “t” is a lot of choices and a world of opportunities. It says everything about the people in a Company.

What makes our company great?  YOU! There are many YOUs in our family. I use the diagram to the left often to share how all of YOU contribute to the success of what we do. Without each of YOU and the passion for your contribution, good to great is just a book. Thank you for all you do.  Because of you and what you do, I believe the best is yet to come!

February 2018 – Letters from Lisa

February is the month of romance, the basis of which is attraction. Of course, this stems from the fact that Valentine’s Day was on February 14. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in most countries and is often chosen as the perfect day to express love and commitment. Besides celebrating Valentine’s with our loved ones, I believe we should also celebrate it at work. Celebrating what one loves about work converts to a culture that is contagiously successful. So, if asked “What do you love about your job?” what would you say?

My top answer would be similar to the 40,000 employee respondents in a Tinypluse survey. I love the people I work beside. They are my family. While not surprising, this answer was given three times more often than the next most-cited reason (freedom, autonomy, flexibility). In my opinion, all of our family (employees, dealers and distributors) are a pleasure to work with and an amazing family. And yes, that means you. You are amazing! You are our family!

I love being a part of something that makes a difference. One of the most attractive parts of our company is our motto, “care that comes full circle.” We take care of the animals, and they take care of us. And I am not just referring to the food they provide. The rise of animal therapy is backed by increasingly serious science showing that social support–a proven antidote to anxiety and loneliness–can come on four legs, not just two. Animals of many types can help calm stress, fear and anxiety in young children, the elderly and everyone in between. Don’t laugh at me for sharing this amazing study from Time magazine:

A stressed-out group of adults were told to pet a rabbit, a turtle or their toy forms. The toys had no effect. But stroking a living creature, whether hard-shelled or furry, relieved anxiety. It worked for people regardless of whether they initially said they liked animals. By the way, rabbits love Vita Charge® Liquid Boost®.

I love that everyone on our team is so full of passion. This enthusiasm constantly motivates me to keep going even when I am getting tired. Our employees’ passion amazes me daily, but our customers’ passion motivates me, as I believe passion is the one thing our competition can’t copy. Watch out here we come!

I love the variety. Every day is different, and I get to interact with such varied groups of people assisting with opportunities, challenges and just trying to help out. This variety ensures that I am always learning, and I love to learn and to help others do the same.   

In the end this is love in my opinion – – –  You don’t feel alive once you get off work, you feel alive while you’re at your desk–or, maybe more precisely, in your flow. If you love your job, you hardly ever look at the clock and end the day surprised you have to go home now.

I would like to end by saying how much I love the future. The opportunity the future brings for all of us is mind boggling, but more importantly the opportunity it brings in the life of the animals we all love enough to stay up all night freezing to death or getting up early to haul them, braid them or blow them out (and yes I know what this is) is a gift from our Lord I can’t wait to watch unfold for our family.