Being in the chauffeured transportation industry for several years usually raises a tough balancing act for those who stay in the business: how do you succeed in a demanding, 24/7 business while maintaining a rewarding personal life?
The workplace has been quickly evolving in recent years — speeding up, changing methods of doing business, integrating new technology, and managing the needs and demands of employees who face health problems and personal life changes while expecting a rewarding place to work. Growing companies in this industry have seen increased revenue, fleet, and staff, but have struggled with making it all financially successful and livable.
This year’s International LCT Show is themed “Ignite Your Passion,” and is geared to offer insight into how successful companies do this in all areas of the business. The keynote speakers, Vince Poscente and Francine Ward, will be speaking about overcoming stress and obstacles to accomplish what you really want at work and at home.
Poscente is a business consultant, bestselling author, and successful keynote speaker for about 100 audiences a year, many in Fortune 500 companies. He went from recreational skier to the gold medal round of the 1992 Winter Olympics speed skiing competition after only taking up skiing four years before that event. He held the Canadian national speed skiing record for 12 years (135 mph on skis). These days, he speaks and consults with companies on speeding up workplace performance while also enjoying life more.
Francine Ward has lived a remarkable life, coming through drug and alcohol addiction and being a call girl in her late teens and early 20s. At age 26, she was hit by a car and was told she would never be able to walk again. Everything changed in her life for the better: Ward is a Georgetown Law School graduate and successful attorney, a marathon runner, a published author, CEO of her own consulting firm, and an experienced corporate speaker. She leads audiences through overcoming obstacles and creating a happy, successful life.
Poscente on Working Faster and Better Vince Poscente has become a New York Times-bestselling author with his book The Age of Speed. During an era when the workplace has sped up significantly, many people want ideas on how to succeed and avoid the exhaustion of dealing with more e-mails and instant messages, more cell phone calls, and smaller work teams with greater duties than before.
“It’s a big shakedown,” Poscente says. “Everyone has greater responsibility for how we manage our time. We’re given freedom of rights, but not freedom from responsibility.” The breaking point for innovative companies is losing market share, Poscente says. They will do what is necessary to expand their place in the market. However, employees can become overwhelmed, sometimes dropping responsibility to take care of their duties as the company’s pace picks up.
“Employees worry about how they can slow down interruptions — phone calls, e-mails, and mobile units,” he says. “Many things can be embraced for speeding up routine actions. It’s similar to balancing a scale — once you realize what’s happening and make the right changes, you create balance and understand exactly how it’s working for you.”
A survey conducted recently by Poscente offers some interesting data on the attitudes Americans have about workplace pressures. Ninety percent feel pressured to produce more in less time, but more than half feel they need to slow things down to succeed. (See sidebar below with survey results.)
Poscente compares boxing to the martial art form aikido to contrast toughing out a situation versus creating an effective balance of action. “With aikido, you must reach for and leverage oncoming force,” he says. “This applies to the age of speed that we’re living through now. It’s about using tools correctly, and not filling extra time with extra busy work.” So it’s about becoming more efficient and more effective. As technology, competition, and reduction in staffing continue to speed up, it becomes a make or break issue between succeeding and falling behind.
“Getting more efficient is an instant benefit,” Poscente says. “Your boss will like you better. On the flip side, you may say to yourself, ‘I’m more efficient at work, but I’m sacrificing things in my personal life.’”
The more one succeeds in a company, the greater the duties and responsibilities become. “The classic is a top sales rep becoming the sales manager,” he says. “You might hear this person say, `I don’t want to manage people!’”
Looking at these changes from another perspective can make a big difference. “I think people are becoming aware that if you combine your strengths with what you love to do, you’ll have all sorts of energy,” he says. “It’s like starting a new relationship and enjoying it. It’s important to think about what experiences you want to have.”
How you react to change will shape your life and your emotional state, Poscente says. “It’s an emotional buzz,” he says. “If a thought creates a physical reaction, it’s worth paying attention. If this reaction tingles up your spine or goes to the pit of your stomach, pay attention — it will tell you where you really want to go.”
Adapting Efficiency Into Your Personal Life The lessons learned from personal experiences can make a major difference in all parts of our lives. A good example is when Vince Poscente decided at age 26 to become a serious skier, which led to him competing in the Olympics at age 30. His unusual Olympic experience, and later his highly successful business career, helped him develop a series of proven strategies for attaining and sustaining peak performance. “I went from recreational skiing to the Olympics in four years, which is much faster than usual,” he says. “I had to become very well organized to make this happen.”
As a busy businessman, public speaker, and a husband and father of three, Poscente values finding balance in his life. It became important to develop more efficiency and gain more time with his family and success in his work — and to find time to go skiing again.
There are simple time-saving actions to take and tech-devices to use that add effectiveness, he says. “It’s like using a self-service kiosk in a retail store and gaining 10 minutes. At home, my wife and I effectively use a central calendar and our BlackBerry units to create a schedule for our work lives and our family time.”
Poscente says the key is to become clear on the outcome you want to achieve. “If you want a good relationship with your family, you may need to delegate more of your responsibilities at work,” he says. “If you know the outcome you want, then the solution becomes much more clear. It’s important to be very clear on the outcome.”
Although he does 100 corporate presentations a year, serves clients as a consultant, and spends a lot of time with his family, Poscente also meditates for 20 minutes twice a day. “It’s by design that I don’t push things all around me,” he says. “This brings me regeneration.”
Poscente is crafting his presentation at International LCT so that the audience can gain knowledge in balancing work and personal lives effectively. “I want to emphasize how to harness the power of speed,” he says. “How to create more balance, less busyness, and more fun.”
Ward Overcame Huge Life Obstacles What would you do if your life became overwhelmed by problems and crises? Walk away and start over? Shut down and become manically depressed and self destructive?
Francine Ward had to face herself clearly at age 26, recovering from being hit by a car. She knew she couldn’t go on the way she’d been living for years, but didn’t see the next step she needed to take right away. Very soon, her life started transforming and she connected with a new mentor. She was introduced to an older woman named Louise Robertson, who Ward hated at first.
Early on, Louise made two important points: Ward really needed to stop killing herself using drugs and alcohol; and, she could actually do something with her life. Ward knew she needed to stop getting constantly loaded and to get help for recovery, but did not understand what was meant by doing something with her life.
“I thought that was just the way it was,” Ward says. “I was part of the underclass — that was the deal. Louise showed me that I had some choices, and that I had to stop being a victim.”
Ward also discovered what she considered a profound quotation from the 1800s by Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and over look the old.” Ward knew she could hold onto her past and stay stuck, but this quotation helped her a great deal. She started to understand that life changes can come back even stronger and more powerful than problematic habits and negative cycles.
Today, Ward is a successful attorney, writer, consultant, and popular speaker. During the International LCT Show, Ward will go into depth on how to overcome fearful risks to get to the next level. “Some operators may lose half of their fleet, which can be embarrassing and humiliating for them,” she says. “It’s easy to think that you are the failure. But you can learn from this. You’re not going to die if you have a setback. You can learn and grow forward. Still, even if you can succeed, you need to keep raising the bar. You can’t rest on your laurels.”
Ward uses the example of Steve Jobs, one of the best known people in American business. Steve Jobs started Apple Computers with Steve Wozniak when he was 20 years old. He was fired from the company when he was 30. Years later, he came back and took over the company after having learned many painful lessons about corporate success, helping Apple to become successful in completely new products such as the iPod.
Willingness to Change and Overcome Fear What does it take to transform from negative beliefs and habits into a new way of life? “I had to be really willing to not be that way anymore,” Ward says. “And I needed a new plan of action.” It took Ward 10 years to become a practicing attorney. She failed the state law bar exam several times before she finally passed and became a working attorney. “It took willingness to stay the course, even when it became very difficult,” she says.
Fear of failure is powerful in our culture, Ward says. “People can stay in situations they hate. They believe that failing in a new part of their lives is the worst thing that can happen.”
Ward advises audiences that everyone needs to take what she calls esteemable actions, a point that used to be emphasized by her mentor Louise Robertson. “Self-esteem comes from doing esteemable acts,” Ward says. “It’s easy to think self-esteem comes from telling yourself how fabulous you are. But in truth, it comes from behaving in a way that makes you respect and like yourself. Self-esteem goes beyond your words to your actions.” Sometimes, transformation can begin through incorporating one small action, what Ward calls a baby step. “Maybe your exercise program starts with walking around the block a few times the first week. Small baby steps make you feel better about yourself.”
Many times, we need assistance in discovering what will help us gain self esteem and grow, Ward says. “More often than not, we need assistance — someone to hold a mirror up to us.”
Louise Robertson played this major role in her life, and confronted her with important points to overcome her negative behavior. For example, Robertson told her to stop using profanity; not only because it sounds horrible, but because it takes the focus off of your message and puts the focus on you as a messenger. “When I was in early recovery it was okay to curse, because I didn’t have any- thing important to say anyway,” Ward says. “But as I got healthier, I started having a message. Today, I don’t want people to get distracted by my curse words. I want them to hear what I have to say.”
Ward says she wasn’t capable at first of making these changes herself, until she heard these statements from Robertson. “I had to find the courage to hear and know the truth,” she says.
Sometimes, new knowledge and truth also might come from people we really don’t like at all, Ward says. “You have to ask yourself: could what they say be true?”
Another positive step to take is becoming part of a “mastermind” group. It’s good to meet regularly with five to 10 people and have everyone share information on what they’re dealing with in their businesses. “It’s good to realize you’re not going it alone and to gain new, fresh ideas,” she says.
STRESS STATISTICS: WORKPLACE FULL OF ANXIETY OVER SPEED AND WORKLOAD Vince Poscente recently conducted a survey of North American workers on their attitudes and opinions about speed and their workloads:
90% of workers feel pressured to produce more in less time.
56% feel that in order to be successful they need to slow things down.
77% feel that the pace of work and life will increase over the next five years.
78% say the invention of mobile communication devices are positive tools to help them cope with the fast moving world.
60% say they are delaying the purchase of one of those devices, though, because they want to avoid being more “on call.”
62% say there is definitely a “blur” between work/home life.
60% say that multi-tasking allows them to get more done in less time.
47% feel that the focus on getting more done faster in their companies is more productive and more stressful.
33% of people feel their organization is more stressful and intense than ever.
KEYNOTERS: CHANGING THE WORKPLACE AND GETTING WHAT YOUWANT Here’s what these two keynoters will be talking about at the show:
VINCE POSCENTE: “Life in the Fast Lane: Transform Your Workplace Performance!” (Monday, March 17 at 3:30 p.m.) Learn how to ignite your passion about your life and business. Find the inner strength to get motivated in a tough, stressful, and competitive business environment. Poscente will describe the skills needed to become more energized and to be in the right, positive space to move forward in the right direction.
FRANCINE WARD: “Going Beyond the Obstacles: The Art of Getting What You Want” (Wednesday, March 19 at 9:00 a.m.) Francine Ward has overcome very difficult conditions, including drug addiction and homelessness, to become a very successful attorney, writer, and public speaker. Ward will help the audience understand how to overcome obstacles to accomplish goals. Her presentation will lay out the steps needed for setting and accomplishing goals in daily work steps.
PROTECT YOURSELF: ADVICE FROM A LAWYER Attorney and keynote speaker Francine Ward offers this advice to the industry: • Protect your valuable intellectual property. • Read and understand all agreements/contracts BEFORE you sign them. • Have agreements with everyone you do business with. “Keep a paper trail, no matter what,” she says. “Anytime you sign anything, even letters, file them away. Anytime you agree to anything, put it on paper.”