May 2019 – Letters from Lisa

Education is Part of Care that Comes Full Circle.

At the risk of singing to the choir, I am going to attempt to share how all of us can educate others about our industry and the importance of what we do using “care that comes full circle” as our guide.

According to a study conducted by The Center for Food Integrity, 56% of consumers say they know just a little bit about the farming practices that produce their food, but 80% want to know more. More than half are interested in affordable, healthy food and are confident in its safety. Unfortunately, that means half are not. Stats specific to livestock found that 38% desire meat that is derived from humanely treated animals, while 48% are unsure if that is important to them or not. In addition, 54% are concerned about antibiotic residues in their food.

The study also found that trust is the key to consumers when it comes to sharing information (educating). What drives this trust? Shared values.

A good example of doing this is found in a response by a veterinarian mother.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Dorman! As the mother of three children, it is vitally important to me to ensure that antibiotics are effective when I need them most: when one of my kids is sick. As a veterinarian, I also recognize the importance of antibiotics to the welfare of animals. I took an oath to protect animal health, prevent animal suffering, and to promote human health. Remaining true to this oath is very important to me.”

With these stats and insight, the question is how do each of us educate and then advocate for our industry? I believe the three thoughts below uses a “care that comes full circle” approach. In other words, it is based on the idea that if we take care in our approach to educate; the other party will care enough to listen back with an open mind due to shared values.

  • Listen without judgment to their values to find out what is important to them.
  • Ask questions to acknowledge their perspective and then dig deeper to show you want to understand things more, while trying hard not to comment back or use a defensive tone in any way.
  • Share your perspective through your values and then use resources that have supporting information to that perspective.

If you are interested in seeing this approach in action, you can watch a helpful video that AFIA produced at https://vimeo.com/219907731/df206803cd.

Interestingly enough, this approach is just as useful with things around your business. That might be a great place to practice this approach.

Whether training employees or teaching consumers about agriculture, I think you will find this three-step approach helpful. Listen, ask and share. If we listen before we share, we’ll seem genuinely interested and that is the first step in “care that comes full circle.”

April 2019 – Letters from Lisa

When a gosling hatches, it immediately looks around until it locates a bright moving object and then instinctively follows that wherever it goes. Following is the most natural thing on earth. Leading, on the other hand, takes work. Leadership is many things, but it is not a target or something that can be figured out or wielded only when a situation demands. It is a skill that needs to be constantly practiced and developed. It is a verb not a noun. John Kennedy said it best when he wrote, “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

A couple of years ago I attended the University of Chicago Booth for a week-long executive class called High Performance Leadership. I loved it. As we studied leadership the professor made it clear that about 2% us will never have leadership capacity, and 2% of us can do it in our sleep. However, most of us or 96% have an average level of leadership capacity. It’s the most of us that have the opportunity to develop the courage, capacity and wisdom to increase our leadership capacity. My teacher, Linda Ginzel, believes that very few people are born leaders and very few don’t have the capacity at all. She wrote a very good book called “Choosing Leadership.” Bottom line from the class and the book: you can’t wing leadership. And so that means all the qualities in the diagram are important for leaders to think about and intentionally work on every day.

Let me give you a true Lisa example. In the Chicago Booth class, we had to share something that people who we work with say about us directly to us or what we hear from others about what they say. Mine was easy. The first thing people always say to me when they address me is, “I know you are so busy, but . . . “(this really bothers me as I never want to be too busy for our employees).

The class then asked me to explain my typical day. I leave my house on the phone to one of my BioZyme® colleagues. I drive to work still on the phone. I pull into the parking lot still on the phone, usually to a different colleague. I get all my stuff out of the car still on the phone. I go into the building and walk all the way down the main hall to my office on the phone. That’s where I got stopped by my classmates. They said that my entrance into the building and hall walk sends the message from the git-go that I am busy. That’s winging it. I can’t wing it. So, now I sit in the parking lot until I can be off the phone and come in and continue all the way down the hall saying good morning. This seemed a bit dumb to me as I felt I was just maximizing time, but the more I studied choosing leadership, the more I realized talking on the phone like that is winging it and not focusing on being more sincere.

Taking this type of action (changing) is hard work but choosing leadership as a skill not a trait and honing it through both reflection and practice will change your future, and it’s a verb worth embracing.

March 2019 – Letters from Lisa

Collaboration is a hot buzzword in the business world. And with good reason. Working with people who have different perspectives or areas of expertise can result in better ideas and outcomes.

We often think of collaboration as this big thing that the whole organization has to improve, but collaboration is something that happens on a smaller scale. Collaboration is about two or more people working together on shared processes to achieve a common goal. If people are working together, but have no common goals, they are cooperating, not collaborating. Cooperation is usually much more lightweight than collaboration and often has less focused goals. Cooperation is certainly not a bad thing, but collaboration just gets us one step closer to being WOWing.

So how does one achieve collaboration?

Ensure a Clear Goal Exists
To begin collaborating on something, you need a shared understanding of what you are trying to do. Without a clear and common goal, it’s difficult to do anything as a team. The goal can be as simple as a statement everyone agrees on. I like to use a hypothesis to state the clear goal. A hypothesis is a proposed explanation made as a starting point for further investigation. I have found that doing this reduces team defensiveness.

Encourage Real Relationships
Team members will work together better when they have real, genuine relationships with one another. Of course, you can’t force that to happen—rather, you have to facilitate the building of relationships organically. It’s easier to build relationships when people work face-to-face and when people can relate to and empathize with one another.

Encourage Open-Mindedness
Individuals will likely be paired with others who have different perspectives and experiences at some point during the collaboration. All team members will need to come to know and understand one another in order to create a sense of security within the group. Openmindedness leads to a safer and more comfortable collaborative environment. Sometimes at BioZyme® I will title meetings as the _______ Party. Just using the word “party” changes how people come to the table. If you use this approach, you must take the theme to the decorations and have food, but it seems to help with open-mindedness.

Spread the Tasks
You don’t want the same people calling all of the shots all of the time. When this happens, individuals start to feel powerless, as if they have no influence or impact on the team. That causes passion to leave the team. You want to spread important tasks across a wide range of people. This actually has a dual-positive effect—not only does everyone feel valued and that they have an important role to play within the company, but you also keep individuals from feeling overloaded and overwhelmed.

Track and Share Results
The results of every collaborative effort should be tracked and then shared with the team. If you don’t share the results of your collaborative efforts, you not only rob your organization of valuable information, you minimize the impact of the collaboration itself.

In the end, collaboration happens when teams work together to generate an end result (product, change, policy, etc.) that’s greater than the sum of each individual’s contributions. Collaboration needs seamless, continuous communication and a commitment that ensures teams have everything they need to collaborate with ease.

Charles Darwin credited collaboration with mankind’s success: “In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” It’s tough to argue with Darwin. So, I won’t. In fact, as it relates to business, I agree that collaboration is essential. As a matter of fact, I believe collaboration is not just a business buzzword, it’s what drives successful WOWing businesses.

February 2019 – Letters from Lisa

Multiplication of effort has the power to allow you to achieve extraordinary, profitable growth through a structure that allows for a balanced life; however, you choose to define balanced. Empowered, energized people result in multiplication of effort that GROWS business.

If you want your employees to be defined this way, you must invite them to be more than just an order-taking drone by cultivating a culture of energized employee empowerment.

Every employee you have will eventually arrive at an intersection, if they haven’t already. At that point, you hope they turn the right way and buy-in to the vision and values of the company. Turning the right direction means that they see a future for themselves within the organization, so they’ll invest themselves fully and go all-in.

In the book “All In,” leading workplace experts teamed up with research giant Towers Watson to analyze an unprecedented 300,000 people, and they made a groundbreaking finding: managers of the highest-performing work groups create a “culture of belief.” In these distinctive workplaces, people believe in their leaders and in the company’s vision, values and goals. Employees are not only engaged but also enabled and energized (termed the three Es), which leads to astonishing results—average annual revenues three times higher than for organizations lacking such a positive culture.

What does it take to accomplish a culture of “All In”? Ask yourself these questions. (Please note that those in bold are my weaknesses and what I am constantly working on trying to improve. I figure putting them in bold can be kind of like making my New Year resolutions public enough that I do them).

1. Do you really care? Beyond praise and financial worth, can you really say you care for the well-being of others? Selfishness has no place in empowerment. The more you care, the greater the results you can generate.

2. Do you listen? When you stop and truly listen to those that you interact with, do you provide others with a sense that you are all in? Being all in really matters when it comes to having others follow your lead, so you better be listening to any constructive criticism you receive.

3. Do you freely admit your mistakes? Great leaders recognize that they don’t always make the best or right choices, and they don’t blame others for those choices. Instead, a true leader finds the error, fixes it and moves on.

4. Are you open and adaptable to change? Leaders must be constantly open to new ideas and cultivate this throughout the team. Now more than ever before, you simply cannot stay with the status quo and expect others to be on that band wagon with you.

5. Can you laugh? If not, why do we want to hang around with you?
Being open to having fun is by far one of the most enjoyable feelings, especially in the workplace. After all, most people spend the vast majority of their lives working, shouldn’t they enjoy it?

6. Are you making decisions? Only decisive people succeed, the indecisive ones never do. As a leader try to focus on making crucial decisions and delegate the trivial ones.

7. Are you cultivating a way for new ideas to be easily brought forward? Every business revenue generator or cost saver starts with an idea. I have learned that those really doing the work on a daily basis always have ideas, usually good ones, but they are not given safe, easy ways to share them.

Now that you have yourself on the right track you need to ensure your leadership determines the direction your team chooses as far as being all in. Here are four ways to encourage your team to be all in and help grow the future of the organization:

1. Hold Them Accountable. Remember that employer trust and employee autonomy is a two-way street. Holding employees accountable for their work and for meeting established goals and deadlines motivates them to achieve better results. Don’t let them off the hook. Demand their best effort.

2. Provide Constructive Feedback. Regardless of the results, let them know how they’re doing, and give them the coaching they need to improve. Although they might not always ask for it, they want and need your feedback to further develop their knowledge and skills. At BioZyme ® we recently replaced Performance Reviews with Progress Reviews. Progress Reviews should be done when opportunities for personal development occur, not every December.

3. Acknowledge Them on the Spot for Stepping Up. A few seconds of genuine one-on-one acknowledgement and recognition can go a long way toward reinforcing an employee’s willingness to step up and stand tall. Show you appreciate their above-and-beyond commitment with a reward that matches the result. Often times, the best reward is additional trust and an added level of responsibility.

4. Have Confidence and Trust in Them. Confidence has the power to generate passion which provides for opportunity that would otherwise seem impossible. Trust is an absolute prerequisite of efficiency. Therefore, confidence and trust are natural leverages for successful growth.

I usually try to close in a motivational positive way, but I thought these facts were pretty motivational despite not being all that positive. According to a survey of 23,000 employees conducted by Harris Interactive, only 37 percent of employees understand what their employer is trying to achieve. Pretty hard to be “all in” when you don’t even know what “in” is.

To dramatize the seriousness of this, Stephen Covey translated this sad reality into a soccer analogy. He wrote that if the typical organization were a soccer team, only four (4) out of the 11 players would know which goal to shoot towards. Imagine trying to compete — especially in an ultra-competitive arena — with the majority of your team not even knowing what end of the field they are supposed to be heading toward. This of course would result in ZERO multiplication of effort as most of the multipliers are headed in the wrong direction. David Zinger says it best when he states, “Create caring and robust connections between every employee and their work, customers, leaders, managers, and the organization to achieve results that matter to everyone in this sentence.”

January 2019 – Letters from Lisa

I realize there are lots of potential goals in business but I, wrong or right, always assume businesses want to grow. With that in mind, growth always starts with the belief that it’s possible.

Once you have belief in the growth potential of the business, action must come next. This includes action from you and all those on your team. Your action is the key to focusing on the right information in the right order—much like the combination to a safe. You cannot attract abundance without taking action. Unless you are doing at least one material thing each day to move your business forward, you are never going to grow your business as quickly as you could.

I’ve always been a firm believer that one of the simplest and most important secrets to success in any discipline is ACTION, just the simple act of doing. Leadership is essentially nothing more than swift and responsible decision-making that in turn creates consistent action. The research shows that often the most successful people are those that simply tried many different approaches until they found one that worked.

What is a material action?

Material action is something that has meaningful revenue or profit implications from its output.

On the revenue side, it could be things like launching a new marketing campaign or making a new sales call, ideating a new product line, expanding to a new target-customer or geographic market, hiring a new salesperson, holding a producer meeting, etc. Anything that will drive new revenues.

On the profit side, it could be things like cutting your cost structure or improving your business efficiency. Or, it could be improving your company morale and productivity or similar tasks. Anything that will drive higher margins for your business.

On the flip side, there are a lot of demands on our time that are important but are not material action. These are things like posting to social media accounts or writing a new monthly email newsletter. Or, it could be managing the ad agency, doing one-on-one meetings with direct reports, running payroll checks, upgrading systems, relocating the office, etc. Yes, these are important tasks that need to get done. But none are going to propel your business to the next level.

What to do to achieve material action?

Where are you spending the vast majority of your time? If you are not spending at least 20% of each day on “material actions” you will not have a reasonable chance to grow your revenues and propel your business to the next level.

I encourage you to keep a TO DO list that is divided into what I like to call normalcy versus material action. In my opinion it is very easy to stay stuck in normalcy all day, every day. This list approach helps to remind us of the material action we need to take and jolts us into realizing that we aren’t on the right track when we review it EACH WEEK.

So, what else can you do today to take some action?

1. Choose something today and take action immediately!
2. Don’t get stalled by negative feelings of ‘fear’ or ‘what ifs.’
3. Don’t worry if your idea is not 100% perfect – it never will be.
4. Remember to be open to different outcomes and to relax and enjoy the productivity of ‘DOING SOMETHING’!

I guarantee you that by taking action and DOING SOMETHING (no matter how small) you will come out feeling positive, enthused and energized – so do it now!

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!