The world is in a soccer (or should I say "futbol") frenzy right now. Every day the best teams in the world are competing for their country in hard-fought matches where the team advancing might be determined in the final few seconds of a game. In the U.S vs. Portugal game, the U.S. was the only team in their group Sunday that could have advanced to the knockout round with a win. Instead, their fate is still up in the air, with a number of possible outcomes. This got me thinking about the lessons we could learn from the World Cup.
Leadership is key. It is easy to credit a coach or team captain with leadership, but if there is one thing I've learned in the past few years, it is that anyone can be a leader—it is not defined by your title. This is evident in any soccer game in the world at any given time. Just listen to players talking to one another on a field. Often it's the goalie or center back defender shouting instructions. They may have a lay of the land that someone in a striking position can't see. I think of the Procurement group the same way—it is often the only department that has regular communication with virtually every other business unit, allowing it insight at a high-level that is difficult for any other department to replicate.
I've read a lot lately about networking. It's a "must do" for any professional career...but for SIG, it's the difference between success and failure. SIG is defined by our ability to provide opportunities for our members to share best practices and thought leadership. How? By connecting them with other sourcing, outsourcing and procurement professionals. We offer online opportunities with Webinars, Town Hall Teleconferences and P2Ps (Peer-to-Peer resources), and of course with live events, such as Global Summits, Symposiums and Regional Roundtables. This week alone we've had one Symposium (in Toronto), a Regional Roundtable in Chicago (at McDonald's Hamburger University...how cool is that?!), a Town Hall Teleconference two Webinars and two P2Ps. It's a busy week—but it's what our members need to hear the latest industry standards and benchmark with others in this function. We love what we do and we try to make our events hassle-free and accessible. But based on some of the articles I've recently read, I'm reminded that live networking is not something that comes easily to most people. In fact, some of the best public speakers I know absolutely cringe when they have to mingle. So what can you do to enhance your networking outcome when you are at a conference or an event?
Each spring or fall as we approach the Summit, my creativity stops flowing and I go into "do" mode. My approach to everything becomes VERY tactical. My shoulders tense early in the day as I make a handwritten list with the various tasks I need to accomplish. If the item isn't: (a) going to print; (b) necessary for the Summit; or (c) required to keep one of my children alive, it probably won’t be addressed for a few more weeks. That's just the nature of working for a company that puts on large-scale events. We look at every detail from every angle and do everything in our power to execute as flawlessly as possible. That isn't to say that everything goes perfectly. It doesn't...but it's our job to shake it off, find a new solution and move forward like swans—looking peaceful and content above water, but paddling like all heck underneath. We arrive at the Summit location a full 4-5 days before our first guests arrive. In a sea of commotion, we unpack boxes, set up rooms, organize our registration desk, write last minute announcements, put together signs, meet with the hotel and check off the myriad things on our individual and collective "to do" lists (and yes, there really is a group "to do" list). It is a blur...and yet those days before the Summit starts are relaxing in an odd sort of way. We get the chance to reconnect with our colleagues whom we see only a few times a year. We are able to appreciate in person the amazing work our team members produce. And we laugh. A lot. As Saturday becomes Sunday becomes Monday, the anticipation of delegates arriving escalates palpably. The quiet buzz of excitement in the air becomes a cacophony of sound, not the least of which are the intermingled voices of delegates greeting old friends and making new connections. Although I look forward to our keynote speakers and hearing the latest trends and discoveries in the incredible breakouts, I secretly think that it's the sound of people connecting that I love the most.
I am a self-proclaimed Olympic junkie. It's true...summer or winter and ALMOST (but not quite) sport-agnostic. I LOVE the Olympics. For two weeks, I tape (an old-fashioned term similar to "DVR" for those who are too young to remember VHS) the Olympic coverage, and then watch it every night. I love the sappy side stories that tug at your heartstrings. I swell with pride when I hear the National Anthem being played, and I tear up when someone perseveres to win a medal or just has a personal best. And as much as I love the Opening Ceremony, it's really not that event which I'm most enamored by. It's all the little moments during the different sports that are so meaningful to me. I feel the same way about our Summits. Ok...maybe it's not QUITE the same. I don't have to wait two years between Summits (or four as the case may be). And it's not as if people are setting world records...but it's the anticipation of the event and the little moments that make it all worthwhile. When we start planning each event, it FEELS like we're planning the Olympics. We have a spreadsheet we start working through that has 231 line items on it. And EACH of those line items can represent 10-20+ individual projects, tasks, etc. (or even hundreds of phone calls as the case may be). For months we work to put together a world-class event—from finding the right speakers, to vetting presentations, to writing press releases, to picking meals—there are thousands upon thousands of "little" things that go into putting on a big event. In fairness, if one of our LCD projectors doesn't work quite right, we haven't disappointed millions of people...but regardless, much like the Olympics, we aim to execute a "flawless" event. We can't guarantee the performance of the athletes (read: speakers) or the spectators (read: delegates), but we can put together a compelling event with fantastic keynotes, thought-provoking content and incredible opportunities for networking.
I'll admit it. I was pulling for the Broncos. I know there are two sides to every story, and something preceded Richard Sherman's less-than-gracious on-screen comments in his interview with Erin Andrews after the 49ers playoff game...but all I heard were HIS comments, and they were enough to turn me into a Broncos fan for the Super Bowl. Of course, the fact that Seattle beat my home team to GET to the Super Bowl was also a contributing factor...but I digress. The real reason I bring up yesterday's lopsided game, was that in a very strange way, it made me think about governance and supplier relationships. Why, you ask? Well, it's simple. If you don't set out the terms of a relationship and have a proper governance plan in place, you can end up with a very imbalanced set of understandings, which can have a disastrous result. In a blog posting on governance several months ago, I spelled out my thoughts in a detailed manner, including organizational structure, stakeholder involvement, cultural alignment, milestones, deliverables and goal linkage. Without a doubt, those are all critical, but for the purpose of this "post game report" I'd like to focus on what I consider to be two of the most important components in just about anything.
I don't know about you, but at the beginning of each New Year, I feel pressure to come up with something I resolve to do differently. Truth be told, I don't come up with New Years Resolutions every year, but when I do put thought into them, I do my best to see them through--mainly because I select things that are achievable and "task-oriented," like (don’t laugh) "wash my face every night before bed." Needless to say, my personal and professional resolutions have always been somewhat different. This year my resolution is slightly more esoteric. In fact, it's more of a "theme" than a "thing." I got the idea from a friend and I think it's a perfect way to merge personal and professional resolutions. The idea is to pick a word you want to live by...and every day find ways to implement it. My word this year is "do." I know, it's kind of lame considering Nike's successful "Just Do It" campaign. But I couldn't think of a better verb to capture my goal, which is to act on things, not to catalogue them for later. To remember it, I've been using the mantra "see it, do it." This comes in handy with four kids in the house. There is a lot to "do" when I "see it." But I also find it great in my professional life. It is so easy to put things on the back burner until later. But with a "see it, do it" mentality, I'm trying harder to do things as I get them. Obviously this doesn't work all the time--some things have a higher priority than others--but by focusing on "do-ing," I find that I'm more engaged. I'm reading relevant articles when I get them, adding things to my list of priorities, reading through the priorities and doing them when promised. Perhaps the better work phrase is "see it, schedule it, do it." That way it gets the appropriate weighting before "doing." If you aren't a regular resolution-maker like me, maybe this can help motivate you to pick a word, theme or phrase to live by for the year. Me? I'm seeing it and following through on it!
I had a completely different blog ready to go today, but realized that we are on the cusp of Member Appreciation Week, so my "New Years Resolution" blog is just going to have to wait (and how apropos...putting off those resolutions just a little longer)... As we get ready to celebrate our members next week with tokens of appreciation, phone calls and a drawing for a Dell Venue 8 Pro Tablet, I'd like to say what I personally appreciate most about our fabulous SIG members:
In the final installment of this series, I have the honor of covering our closing keynote speaker, Brian Biro, who delivered an interactive session on leading with passion. I might add that he spoke passionately about the subject too. I have to say, I was a twittering (tweeting?) fool when Brian spoke. He had so many little snippets of wisdom, it was hard to keep up. In our final lunch session, Brian had the entire crowd on our feet and gathered around the stage cheering together as two women in the audience (one, our very own tiny Mary Zampino) broke through a board with a single (well, in one case a double) punch. It was awe-inspiring to watch. In both this session as well as an invitation-only event with an intimate group of CPOs, I took away the following insightful anecdotes:
Breakthrough experiences are always a matter of choice. There's always a way to do something if you are committed to it...but you have to follow through. If you do not follow-through, you will not breakthrough.
If you want to change your life, change your energy. Be fully present in each moment. It is the secret to life balance, not to mention that it will make those around you a lot happier.
The most destructive word in people-building is "blame." Blame kills teams. It is always in the past, not in the present. You must be in the "NOW" not stuck on the road of "AS SOON AS."
With many of the world's leaders gathered in South Africa to honor Nobel Prize winner and anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, it seemed only apropos to acknowledge the many leadership lessons that he imparted. To say he was a great man would be an understatement. How he spent 27 years in prison and walked away with an attitude and spirit that allowed him to rise above the experience and become one of the names most associated with peace and forgiveness is beyond understanding. When he spoke, many listened. Below are a few of his words of wisdom, and my take on how we can use them wisely.
"It always seems impossible until it's done." How many times have you looked at a project — either business or personal — and thought you could never get it done? Not enough time, not enough resources, not enough support...and yet somehow you find a way to do it. Most people celebrate the big successes but overlook the little ones. Yet sometimes breaking big projects into little steps is exactly what you or your team needs to make the impossible possible. Don't wait until you cross the chasm to enjoy your successes. Celebrate the little victories too.
"Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again." It's a little hard to imagine judging Nelson Mandela given the magnitude of what he was able to overcome and accomplish, but the message is a good one. You can't succeed if you don't try...and the fact is that many of us are afraid to try because we are afraid to fail. Failing isn't a requisite for succeeding...but it sure can be helpful you when you're trying to anticipate all the things that could go wrong in any given situation. Think back to some of the greatest innovators of our generation. Take Steve Jobs, for example. He left Apple in the '80s because of a series of failures, only to come back and create some of the most revolutionary technologies our world has ever seen.
In part 3 of this 4-part series, I am covering some of the insights from a powerhouse panel of CPOs and other procurement leaders we had at the last Summit. Our own Dawn Evans facilitated a fireside chat with a group of sourcing leaders, including Linda Behan, Senior Vice President, Iron Mountain; Clyde Dornier, Head of Global Sourcing and Procurement, Visa; Cory Locke, Vice President, Global Categories, Hewlett-Packard; and Todd Podell, CPO, Alcon, who shared some pearls of wisdom on what keeps them up at night and how they have achieved success in their careers. With all due respect, I can't even begin to capture all the fantastic feedback, insights and advice our panel provided, but in my opinion, these are some of the highlights:
Being uncomfortable teaches you to succeed. This nugget came after a question regarding how the panel overcame challenges at the beginning of their careers. If you think about this one, it makes a lot of sense. Innovation doesn't come from the status quo. It comes when people are shaking things up. If you are comfortable in your job and going with the flow, you may not be looking for ways to make things better. But if you are uncomfortable for any reason — worried that something isn't "quite right," you are probably seeking ways to make things better. Makes sense, doesn't it?
You must have tenacity in procurement. It's safe to say that tenacity is a virtue in just about any career, but in procurement, it may be even more critical. Said one of the panelists, "You need to have the doors slammed in your face to become good (at what you do)." Hopefully there aren't too many slamming doors, but the reality is that talking business units into collaborating with procurement isn't always an easy sell. Tenacity is a must.