Archives for February 2012

New Picture
One of my all time favorite leadership experts is John Maxwell. I refer to him as the “leader of leaders.” Just recently John spoke at a Servant Leadership conference in San Diego. Favor fell upon me and I got the privilege and honor of capturing a photo opportunity with my long admired mentor.

One of my favorite leadership lessons from John Maxwell centers on the topic of Blind Spots. A blind spot is “an area in the lives of people in which they continually do not see themselves or their situation realistically.” Blind spots usually refer to areas where we misinterpret our ability and are “blind” to the negative implications that our behaviors have on others. All of us have blind spots. If you think you don’t…it is a Blind Spot!

This reminds me of driving a car. You become keenly aware of blind spots when a vehicle ahead of you starts veering into your lane, unaware that your car is within inches of his back tire. On the road, we can alert a driver who is caught by a blind spot by tapping (or pressing compulsively) on the horn. Too often, though, in our careers, we do not receive this kind of immediate and auditory feedback.

There are many ways to identify our leadership Blind Spots at work. Here are a few examples:
• Ask your spouse or a long-time trusted advisor
• Conduct a 360-degree survey asking people to identify your strengths and weaknesses
• Take our Talent Journey Assessment to uncover both strengths and Blind Spots

Blind Spots by definition are areas of your life that you don’t see, yet they can profoundly impact your ability to influence, achieve, and get results. We all have Blind Spots. Why let them inhibit your career? Have the courage to open your eyes to your Blind Spots today.

Try out our COMPLIMENTARY TALENT INSIGHTS assessment today! We are confident you’ll discover something new about yourself and will see!

Copyright protected February 2012, Diane Kucala, TJ Associates LLC

New Picture (2)As more and more organizations are expanding into global markets, working 24/7, and becoming leaner, HR business systems must also include innovation and work round the clock with fewer resources. Moving some of your training solutions to an on-line platform is one way to optimize training dollars while better serving the changing needs of your business.

What is On-line Training?
On-line training is delivered on the internet and can be completed by participants whenever it fits into their schedules, 12 hours per day. Great on-line training includes all of the following elements:
• Sr. Leadership Voice. Through video, audio and text, our online modules capture the voice of today’s senior leadership.
• Rich content. We help you streamline training to ensure it is potent, concise and relevant.
• Engaging interaction. We build exercises and interactions to ensure the learner is both learning and enjoying the learning experience.
• Learning Assessment. We incorporate exercises, quizzes, games and/or simulations to ensure learners master the training objectives.

When do you use on-Line training?
On-line training is a great methodology to use when you want to transfer specific and consistent learning outcomes to a large group of participants with excellence and consistency. On-line training can be combined with classroom experiential learning when live interaction is important, such as teambuilding. In hybrid learning, basic concepts are conveyed through the on-line modality and follow-up practice and experiential learning is incorporated in the classroom.

What Are the Benefits of Talent Journey’s On-Line Training?
• Best in class curriculum design
• Dynamic, interactive, and engaging platform
• Consistency and Sustainability of learning
• Affordable, with unlimited reusability
• Flexible and Convenient (globally)
• Customized learning experience for your organization

Talent Journey can help!

Our team can help you design, develop and implement on-line training in your organization. Our team consists of expert curriculum and graphic designers, programmers, voice over specialists and technology experts.

As an example, we created a New Employee Orientation Program called “Servant Leadership” for Clarient, a GE Healthcare Company. A sample of the online training is available by entering this URL:

Our demo client asked new employees to complete their one hour New Employee Servant Leadership training prior to initiating their classroom orientation program. Throughout the classroom orientation program, this online training is referenced and reinforced with interactive exercises and discussion.

Contact us to explore On-Line training curriculum for your organization. We’d love to partner with you in creating customized, impactful and sustainable online training to meet your organizational needs.

Worldwide Copyright TJ Associates, LLC Diane Kucala

New Picture (1)
There is nothing that inspires like a good classic proverb. A favorite of mine is the one that says, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” The substance of that proverb holds true for years as well. As we quickly approach the end of this year, we all get a guaranteed fresh start. Each new year is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean, re-evaluate our direction and set new goals. In this article, Talent Journey wants to share 7 important steps that will guide you toward intentionally navigating your upcoming year and all the potential that lies within you. We strongly recommend that you set aside some focused time to walk yourself through this year-end exercise.

Step 1: Reflect back on 2011. Acknowledge and honor both the good and the bad of the past year. Take a realistic assessment of your accomplishments/joys and disappointments/sorrows. What strengths emerged in your life? What mattered most to you? What were the top 2 -3 inhibitors or hurdles that limited you?

Step 2: Create an attitude of gratitude. Spend at least 15 minutes brainstorming all of the things you are grateful for in your life. Start with the obvious and once you get going the list quickly grows. Your list may include family, health, home, a favorite spot, freedom, etc.

Step 3: Identify your top values. Values are the rudder of life. Our life finds greatest fulfillment when it reflects the core internal values we hold important. For a comprehensive list of common values, go to What are your top 3 – 5 values in priority order?

Step 4: Evaluate your balance. See the Life Balance Wheel below. You can modify as you see fit. Evaluate your level of satisfaction in the areas of life that matter most to you. The scale is 1-7 with “1” indicating very low satisfaction and “7” indicating very high satisfaction. How consistent are the ratings across areas; that is, how well balanced is your wheel? If you experience lower satisfaction ratings in some areas, do you want to do anything about them in 2012?


Step 5: Write your mission statement. Your mission statement should include about 5 – 7 sentences that describe your purpose in life. It defines what you devote your life to and find worthwhile. Your mission statement will include your top values, strengths and long-term goals. A good way to begin thinking about your mission statement is to envision your 80th birthday party. What do you want people to say about you and your life?

Step 6: Choose Goals that matter. In the context of your overall mission statement, strengths, values and life balance wheel, what goals do you want to establish for yourself in 2012? A goal is specific, measurable and time bound. It is important that your goals truly matter and are compelling to you. Brainstorm all of the things you want in 2012. Avoid editing your list at this point. Write down everything that comes to mind.

* Go over your list and ask yourself, “Is this something that I really want, or is it something that I think I should want?” Take the “should’s” off your list.
* Review your list again and ask yourself, “Is this something that I can realistically accomplish in 2012.” Cross off or modify anything that is not realistically achievable in 2012.
* Prioritize your top 3 – 5 goals. Force yourself to prioritize the goals that will have the biggest impact in the coming year. Many of us live diluted lives because we try to do too many things at once.
* Review your top 3 – 5 goals to ensure they are specific and measurable. For example, “I will spend at least 2 hours of 1:1 time per week with each child and my spouse” is a better goal than “I will spend more time with the family.”
* Record and post your top 3 -5 goals in a location where you will see them frequently.

Don’t worry about getting your goals perfectly articulated. You will have all year to revise, update and clarify the goals. Start with your best understanding at this point. Be flexible to amend the goals as life changes and new opportunities arise. The goals are just a tool. Bettering your life is the end goal.

Step 7: Make it Happen. Establish accountability and track your progress. Accomplishing goals in life is like losing weight. Most often we know what we need to do (eat right and exercise), but we don’t always do what we know we should (oops, french fries and milk shake weren’t on the goal list). One of the best ways to accomplish goals is to find an accountability partner who will keep you on track. This helps direct your efforts more effectively. None of us is perfect. Please, give yourself grace along the journey.

We at Talent Journey value you as an individual and professional. We hope this 7 Step process helps you become more purposeful about what you want to be, do and become in 2012. We’re looking forward to another great year with you! May you find deep satisfaction and fulfillment as you make this… your best year ever!

Worldwide Copyright TJ Associates, LLC Diane Kucala

New PictureWhen was the last time you were on the receiving end of a lousy customer service encounter? Did you get the voice recording that asks for your name and account number only to have a service rep request it a second time? When the service rep couldn’t answer your question, did he or she put you back into a queue, and, after a long wait, you had to go over all your information again with someone else? Of course, the most frustrating scenario is when one of the customer service reps in the series hangs up on you so they can keep their call statistics low!

In today’s economy, no business can afford to alienate customers. Let’s look at a couple of economic facts.

* GDP growth (the measure of the market value of all final goods and services produced in the USA) is low. Customer demand has diminished, and new customers are hard to attract. Businesses must do everything in their power to retain the customers they have.

* Consumer spending is weak. Our current customers are holding onto their money. We cannot afford to give them any reasons not to buy our goods or services.

I love Sam Walton’s quote about customers: “There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everyone in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” Continuous close attention to customers and customer service is an integral part of everyone’s job. Without that, a business will not thrive, and quite possibly will cease to exist.

In this month’s Talent Journey newsletter, we want to remind you of some QUICK TIPS for executing customer service (internally and externally) within your business:

1. Identify and anticipate needs. As business leaders, we must anticipate how customer needs will change and emerge in new ways over the coming years. Successful leaders perceive shifts in technology, markets, demographics, etc. that will impact the customer’s expectations in the future.

2. Establish a customer-centric company culture. Ensure that all employees understand the immense value and are trained in customer service skills. Build metrics and reward systems around customer focused behavior that penetrates all functions and departments.

3. Organize and manage your organization around customer’s needs. Often, this means breaking down boundaries between departmental silos to ensure customer communication is seamless and effective.

4. Know and truly care about your customers as individuals. Customers want you to treat them and their needs as important. Calling customers by name, knowing their buying habits, and focusing of their satisfaction go a long way in retaining loyalty.

5. Know your products and services. Customers want to know that you’re experts and they can rely on you for answers. Anyone in your organization who is talking to a client is the face of your organization. When employees portray competence, the company earns respect from the customer. Customers will pay more for competence.

6. Appreciate the power of “yes.” Even when you cannot give customers exactly what they want, find the “yes” in your responses to them. Customers want to like the people they do business with and answering “yes” helps to establish good rapport.

7. Understand the demographics and personality style of your customer. No two customers are exactly alike. Create customer profiles that assist employees in determining how best to respond to customer types. For example, technology companies might create a small business, home-based geek, and a stay-at-home mom profile to help script the best customer service for those demographics.

8. Treat employees the way that you want them to treat your customers. In all your interactions with your employees, model the value and respect you want them to show with customers. Care about your employees as individuals. Value their work. Show your appreciation for their contributions. These attitudes and behaviors go a long way in setting a customer-centric tone that breeds loyalty.
As the holidays approach, it is a good reminder to treat customers in a way that gains or retains their business. In today’s businesses, customers are quick to look elsewhere when the experience is below expectations. We are not suggesting over-promising and under-delivering to customers, but finding a way to make each one feel heard and of value is critical to customer success. Customer satisfaction impacts every organization overall, so we hope you found these quick tips a helpful reminder. We want to see your organization succeed and maximize the potential that exists!

Author: Diane Kucala at TJ Associates LLC (Talent Journey). Copyright protected, all rights reserved worldwide.

When you’re looking to optimize the potential of your organization, three important perspectives need to be taken into account. These three perspectives can be summarized in the graph below:
New Picture (1)
1. Systems focuses on future possibilities and integration of the whole organizational structure. Organizations that are strong in strategic thinking are quick to evaluate market trends, technology changes, demographic shifts, etc. in terms of their future impact on the organization. They take a “helicopter approach” and see the big picture, including how the operational parts of the business fit together.

2. Operational Excellence focuses on the practical elements of the business. Organizations strong in operational thinking adeptly assess people and processes; they maximize resources for efficiency and results. They take a sky-scraper view of the organization, focusing on the day to day execution of strategy and goals.

3. Relationship Ability focuses on selecting, motivating, developing, and retaining high performance at individual, team, and organizational levels by developing caring relationships. Organizations that are strong in this thinking dimension earn people’s respect and followership. Understanding individual, team, and organizational needs, these organizations motivate, encourage, equip and develop people and teams to contribute their best toward the organization’s strategy and mission.

All organizations have relative strengths and weaknesses in each of these dimensions. The secret to success is maximizing the potential in all areas. To achieve this end, organizations are smart to establish a leadership team with strengths across these respective. Talent Journey’s comprehensive assessment process readily identifies leader and organizational strengths. Contact us for more information about how you can assess your organization and leadership team to optimize your organizational success. Also, we recommend that you get a copy of the “Answering the Central Question” book referenced in the newsletter. This book provides a comprehensive view of the three perspectives and the assessment measures we utilize.

Written by Diane Kucala at TJ Associates LLC. Copyright protected, all rights reserved worldwide. October 2011

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