What I Learned from David Casullo about High-Energy Cultures

I read a lot of books on leadership and customer service. David Casullo's Leading the High-Energy Culture is a good reference for new or seasoned managers. But his life lessons also apply to writers. Here's what I learned...

1. "Raise the Bar" should be your rallying cry for yourself and your team.

2. Energize those around you.

3. Communicate clearly and with purpose and passion.

4. Behave consistently with your values and beliefs.

5. Know the lay of the land at your organization and adapt as you need to.

6. A successful leader demonstrates Character, Commitment, Competence, Courage, and Communication.

7. People are fascinated with secrets and mysteries. As a mystery reader and writer, this was my favorite.

8. Focus on face-to-face interactions. Important information should be delivered face-to-face and not through email or texts.

9. Communication is an art and a science.

10. Simple is hard. People don't have time for elaborate explanations. It takes longer to craft your communication for your audience.

11. When people remember your story, they remember the point, and they remember you.


What I Learned from Starbucks and Joseph Michelli

My niece landed a job recently in a Starbucks, and it was interesting to hear about life as a new barista. Coincidentally, I finished Joseph A. Michelli's Leading the Starbucks Way: 5 Principles for Connecting with your Customers, Your Products, and Your People. Check out his website and blog.

1. Love, Humanity, and Humility should be your performance drivers.

2. If you don't have passion for your product or service, why should your customer?

3. Your customer service behaviors should include anticipating, connecting, personalizing, and owning.

4. You need to cherish and challenge your legacy. It's not just today's sale.

Michelli's book focuses on customer service and leadership, but the advice works for writers who are trying to market their work.

Saying Goodbye to an Old Friend...

The City of Virginia Beach is going to tear down the Kempsville Recreation Center in order to build a new one. I'm all for progress, but it's a little bittersweet. It's like losing an old friend.

In the fourth grade, my mom signed my sister and me up for swim lessons in the almost Olympic-sized pool. A tornado or straight winds came through and ripped the roof off of the pool. We had to have swim lessons in a neighborhood pool while they were repairing the REC. Everyone was excited about the new center, but the pool was out of commission for a while.

I also landed my first part-time job there in November of 1983. I was a tenth grader and the new part-time receptionist on Saturdays, Sundays, and Monday evenings. My first Saturday was during one of the Santa's Stocking craft shows. It was chaos, but I wouldn't have traded it for the world.

It was the best job ever. Don't tell Parks and Recreation. I would have done the job for free. Every teenaged boy came there to play soccer, basketball, and racquetball, and we had a skateboard ramp in the summers. I kept that part-time job through high school and college. I also added extra hours by working in the Teen Lounge and the ID Office.

I learned a lot of life and work lessons there. The staff was great. I honed my customer service skills because on weekends we were one of the only city offices open, and we got a lot of strange phone calls.

I also met a lot of characters and had adventures there. And that's always great fodder for a mystery writer!

This is me in my staff golf shirt at the 10th Anniversary Party.

This is me in my staff golf shirt at the 10th Anniversary Party.

Leading in a Changing World

I finished Ollie Malone's 101 Leadership Actions for Managing Change in the 21st Century recently.   His text is good if you're dealing with teamwork and change. Here are my key learnings.

1. Focus on the STAR model (Significant Tasks and Results).

2. Pay attention to what you resist. It will help you understand yours and others' resistance to change.

3. Ensure that your vision or plan includes others.

4. WIGS are Wildly Important Goals and WAGS are Wildly Aggressive Goals. You need WIGS and WAGS.

5. Watch what your industry is doing. Observe the trends and what's going on in your professional community.

6. Make sure that everyone on your team is cross-trained. Have lots of coverage for critical skills.

7. Breathe frequently. Make sure that you are not always going 100 mph.

8. Stress good communications.

9. Embrace technology.