Thursday, February 24, 2011

Poverty and the 7 Virtues

Every once in a while, a TSB reader wil send me the seed of an idea for a blog post that is too good to pass up.

This is one of those days.

It originates from a quote sent my way from Jim Gilbert, otherwise known as "Canada's Huggable Car Dealer".

"You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it"

A quote like that would resonate with a guy like Jim ever since since he and his wife Dawna started from nothing back in 1979 and have built a used car dealership that has become the envy of the industry from coast-to-coast. But, the quote also got me thinking that perhaps it would also strike a chord with an another entrepreneurial type; in this case, the daughter of a New Glasgow, N.S. used car salesman who recently made a pitch to help pummel poverty on CBC's, "Dragons Den".

From what I understand, Barb Stegemann, a 41-year old mother of two, is the first Atlantic Canadian woman to slay the "Dragons".

Barb Stegemann, CEO of 7 Virtues Beauty Inc., is an author and consultant with backgrounds in sociology, journalism and economic development. Her book, "The 7 Virtues of a Philosopher Queen" was written to help inspire other women get into the world of business. The book was dedicated to her best friend from King’s College, who was wounded in the war in Afghanistan. “I just kept trying to find ways to support his mission and one day I found an article on this gentleman who was growing oils in Afghanistan trying to help the farmers get off the illegal poppy crop. He had this campaign about how if you made perfumes from oils you could really help their economy.”

In the end, three "Dragons" offered support but Stegemann decided to go with Brett Wilson. Using the "Dragons’" money, she expanded production from 1,000 bottles to 10,000, the number needed to approach the Bay and land a nationwide deal. Barb is now focused on expanding her vision and her "7 Virtues" business by sourcing oils from Haiti, Israel and Palestine.

Stegemann's initiative challenges some of the most fundamental aspects of any effort to wipe out poverty. As she explains it, “People are generous and kind and I think that’s lovely but you … don’t necessarily want someone to raise money and donate it to you – you want people to welcome you and include you. When I look at the world … all the aid that was donated, where did it go? We really need to do trade.”

In his New York Times best-seller, "Parliament of Whores", P.J. O'Rourke writes, "You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money". In that spirit of knowing what happens when you just throw money at a problem, does Barb Stegemann know something about the interrelationship about poverty and wealth that most of the free world has missed?

Is there something myopic-visioned governments and clarity-challenged non-profit worlds need to pay attention to in this story?

Could it be a basic understanding of the difference between a hand out and a hand up?

"Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that"

P.S. ... Atlantic Canadian readers of TSB might be interested in knowing "Dragons’ Den" is holding auditions in Halifax on March 15, 2011. To watch the show or get more information visit For more information on Barb Stegemann and her products visit

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at and

Get to know Gair on Facebook at

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter -!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook -

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hiring Like Shackleton

You need to find someone to fill a key role within your company.

So, who do you believe will become the better employee?

Someone who takes a job because of the salary, hours and benefits? Or someone who identifies with what your company stands for and is truly inspired to accomplish the organization's purpose?

These come off as leading questions, but have you ever wondered why most people who would prefer hiring the inspired types end up with money-oriented clock-watchers instead?

As you have probably already learned, hiring is a hit and miss affair. Mostly miss.

And not even the best recruiters in the business get it right 100% of the time. If you doubt the veracity of that statement just ask any NFL franchise that ever invested thousands of hours in scouting and lost tens of millions of dollars on first-round draft choices that went bust.

But what if you stumbled on to a page from the history books that spoke of how one boss was able to recruit perfectly? And find stars at every position?

If you are bone-chillingly serious about finding the right people for your team you might want to immerse yourself in this story. It begins with a simple, 1914 advert placed in the London Times and plastered on walls around the city.

Ernest Shackleton received more than 5,000 applications for his upcoming expedition to the South Pole. When Shackleton interviewed the applicants, he also asked an unusual question: “Can you sing?” Shackleton knew full well a journey of this magnitude would require the ability to work as a team and enjoy each others’ company over an extended period of time.

Shackleton eventually hired 26 (plus one stowaway) and set off on the "Endurance" but never reached Antarctica. Ten months later in deathly frigid South Pole waters, ice closed in around the ship, eventually crushing it. The crew sought refuge on tiny Elephant Island while Shackleton and several crew members travelled another 800 miles to find help. Nearly two years after setting out, all 27 of the crew members, along with Shackleton, were rescued.

So how did the men of "Endurance" survive under conditions that would have caused many others to mutiny or simply give up and die? One answer lies in Shackleton’s extraordinary leadership skills in keeping team members motivated and working together in adverse conditions. But, another reason for their unlikely survival was that Shackleton hired survivors already cut from the same attitudinal cloth. Job applicants already aligned with his mission and purpose.

Shackleton's hiring ad is in sharp contrast to what most companies practice today as they attempt to find talent that aligns with what they believe. Most newspaper or online job ads usually offer well-worn generic bromides like this:

"Account Manager needed. If you are a self-motivated leader with the ability to work in a team environment then we want to talk to you! You must have minimum 5 years experience in account management and possess excellent oral and written communication skills. The successful candidate will be driven, goal orientated, organized and willing to accept a higher standard of living in reward for their hard work. Come work for a fantastic company".

OK, so those are the cliches being spun in HR world, but should it surprise anyone that generic, formalized job ads attract a flood of generic, tire-kicking resumes? Just for kicks and giggles, I went to a job site and randomly clicked on the first ad I saw.

But, what if certain companies decided to cut the crap and get real?

What if they stopped explaining WHAT jobs were all about and started focusing instead on WHY someone would even want to apply?

Author Simon Sinek explains in "Start With Why" that the reason companies like Apple with a clear and strong WHY resonate so much with customers and employees is that the WHY triggers our emotional decision making process. As Simon explains, "If Apple was like everyone else a marketing message might be: We make great computers. They're user friendly. Want to buy one? ...Here's how Apple actually communicates: everything we do, We believe in challenging the status quo, we believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use, and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?"

According to Sinek, people don’t buy WHAT you do; they buy WHY you do it. Inspired employees are motivated by WHY you your company exists, not WHAT you make, service or sell.

It's not WHAT you do that matters.

It's WHY you do it.

This is the secret formula for any brand that aspires to become seamless in its words and deeds.

Ernest Shackleton knew his goal wasn't to hire people who needed a job.

He needed to hire people who believed in his cause. People willing to give blood, sweat and tears because the idea of hazardous adventure and challenging insurmountable odds spoke to them.

Does your company need those kinds of people?

Could you craft an ad that would rally inspired people to join your cause?

Here is one small business owner, looking for minimum wage help, did it:

"We are looking for someone to help us take care of the best customers in the world. And while that sounds like a great opening line, the reality is that the job itself involves hard work at a fast, sometimes hectic pace. But, wait… it gets tougher! It also pays minimum wage with little chance for advancement. On the plus side, the successful candidate gets to work by him or herself and listen to Pop hits from the 80's all day. It can be a thankless job, but if you're the type of person that doesn't need a lot of praise, this job might be for you. We're only looking for someone who wants to work about 8 hours per day Saturday and Sunday, 9-5 or until the job is finished (whichever comes first). You'll never have to work nights, as long as you work hard all day. Everyone who works here, loves the hours because they get to spend time with friends, family, and their kids... They also love the fact we’re up front about everything from the start. Email us your resume if you think you honestly fit this role".

This owner experienced 654 page views in 5 days. Unheard of response rates for this type of job. He thinks by borrowing a page from Ernest Shackleton that he is on to something big.

This owner has a clear sense of WHY his company does the things it does.

Do your customers and future employees get that same sense from you?

Are your job ads explaing too much WHAT without inspiring with a WHY?

“The goal is not just to hire people who need a job, but to hire people who believe what you believe. If you hire just because they need a job, they’ll work for your money. If you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears”

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at and

Get to know Gair on Facebook at

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter -!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook -

Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Winners Know

For the better part of two decades, I have had the privilege of knowing many winners in many different walks of life.

As a young sportscaster, I had the chance to watch from the front row in the mid-eighties as Brett Hull catapulted from 4-th line minor-leaguer to an NHL scoring sensation. "The Golden Brett" became not only a superstar, but never let it go to his head.

Through the nineties and beyond, I observed at close range the qualities of top performers such as Frank McKenna, Roy H. Williams, Gene Simmons and countless others who distinguished themselves as winners in their chosen professions.

But, few have taught me more about winning than an otherwise ordinary guy from tiny Lakeburn, NB.

I first met Ken when he was running a sports card and collectible shop more than 20 years ago. Since then, his entrepreneurial journey has taken him to some exciting and rewarding places as the President and CEO of, Canada's largest private sale network. Launched with nothing more than "a big idea and less than a hundred bucks", was started by Ken and his partner Jeremy Demont while both were students at Atlantic Baptist University in 1998. Despite being severely undercapitalized, Ken and Jeremy possessed a winning spirit that ignited the imagination of Dale Betts and Walter Melanson who also jumped on board with nothing more than a wing and a prayer and a promise. Together, Ken and his partners have grown to more than 100 franchises nationwide, giving traditional realtors a run for their money in a multi-billion dollar industry now swirling with massive social and technological upheaval.

Few people know more about "winning" than Ken LeBlanc.

A real estate "David" who dared to challenge the MLS Goliaths.

Today, readers of The Seamless Brand will experience a guest post entitled, "What Winners Know". It was the core message Ken delivered in his opening keynote at the recent National Conference held in late January at the Melia Caribe Resort in the Dominican Republic.

By: Ken LeBlanc

"Whether you are a chess player, professional athlete, or a business owner the number one rule in winning has always been the same. Surround yourself with people who are wiser, more accomplished, and just plain smarter than you are!

I've tried to do that constantly over and over again with my life and I have been richly rewarded for it. I feel that I work with some of the best coaches, trainers, business partners, mentors, and franchise owners in the world. Personally, I always try to bring people on board who are smarter than I am.

So, as 2010 was winding down, I took some time to reflect. I studied world class leaders, authors, speakers, athletes, business owners and our top performing franchisees.

Here are what I believe to be the top 7 “Secrets of Winning” I have uncovered from this elite group.

#1. Winners Know What They Don't Know.

This might sound like a contradiction, but if you know what you don't know, you can go out and learn it, or find someone who can guide you through it. Real ignorance is not a lack of knowledge or education, but a lack of curiosity. The moment you think you know everything ... you're fucked.

#2. Winners Know To Avoid Cynics.

There are no successful cynics. Think about it: Real success, in any way society measures it – money, fame happiness, family – cannot be achieved in the presence of a cynic. Why? Because cynics and skeptics love to place the finger of blame on the disease before figuring out how to get healthy. The blame game is the easy way out. You will never hear a winner say, "I got screwed", "That should’ve been mine", "I never catch a break”. These are ALL dead end answers.

Winners understand the world owes them NOTHING. They go out and find what they need without asking for permission> Winners are driven, talented, and work through negatives by focusing ONLY on the positives. And that's why they avoid the quicksand that cynics represent.

Cynics will pull you down They ply their drug one-on-one: It feels good to cynic to stay angry, to be pissed at the world and stay in one place forever. They specialize in what I call the "bitch spiral", which occurs when like-minded people get together and complain with such intensity that every slight against them becomes a gigantic conspiracy. They attack the successful under the banner of injustice: “Wal-Mart is killing small businesses”, “The Yankees’ payroll is ruining baseball”, and “Nobody is making money in this business”.

Just as faith and fear cannot co-exist, cynicism cannot reside in the same residence as Belief. Cynicism is not disbelief, but unbelief, a refusal. That is why cynicism is so dangerous to the average person. If you lose that sincere belief in yourself, in your relationship, as a child, parent, friend, or of your business, you become worthless to that being - no matter how talented you are.

Winners run as fast as they can from cynics.

And fire them from their lives!

#3. Winners Know How To Dive In

Winners don't care too much or dwell on failures. Business is not a marathon; it's a series of sprints. And most sprints are won at the moment the gun goes off. Many of us spend our time worrying about failure. Real winners don't give a shit about failure because they know that in no time they'll be diving into their next chance for success.

#4. Winners Don't Wait For Perfect

I have shared this concept with a number of our franchisees over the years. And it still holds true today. Winners focus on what they have - not on what they don’t have. Winners trust that version 1.0 out of the box is what it is and run with it. Even if they know that an updated stronger, better, cheaper, and faster version is coming soon, they still run with 1.0. Winners make the best of what they have in front of them and don't give a rat’s ass about what they are missing or what’s in their competitor’s tool box.

#5. Winners Are Married To Their Profession

This is something I’ve always known that was important and agreed with, but never realized how important it was until I heard Kevin O’Leary speak at the Atlantic Dream Festival back in October of 2010. Kevin is the guy who some think is a complete jerk on Dragon’s Den, but keep in mind he is the same jerk who sold his software business to Mattel for $4.2 billion dollars.

Here is what Kevin O'Leary has to say on this subject:

“People say to me that life has to have balance. I disagree, when you create or start a business you become its slave, there is nothing else, there is no balance. It’s just you and the business. If you are a real entrepreneur and what you strive for is ultimate success, you become myopically focused on it. There is no Saturday or Sunday anymore, just you and the business. If you doubt that you won’t become a slave to your business you will not become successful. There is no balance, no family time, no wife, no kids, just the business".

I often get criticized for this a lot. BUT IT IS THE TRUTH. The reason you create partnerships and a family is so they can have your back while you create wealth. The whole reason to become an entrepreneur is to pursue the ultimate goal of freedom. It doesn’t matter if people don’t like you. It doesn’t matter what they think about you. It just doesn’t matter. The goal should be to make that business successful. To most people, O'Leary's statements might seem a bit extreme, but it’s tough to argue with him. He has 4.2 billion reasons why he is right.

But the one thing that I have found to be true with all successful business owners is that winners never stop thinking of their business. They are obsessed. It’s embedded into their lives. They live, breath, and eat the business. They are in business mode 24/7/365. Winners are married to their business.

#6. Winners Are Committed

Winners look into the mirror every single day and peek at the ONLY person responsible for their success. They don't blame their financial or family situation. They don't blame the market. They don't blame competition. They don't blame employees or co-workers, the government or "the man". True winners look in that mirror every single day and know they are the ONLY person that can make or break their business. True winner's become accountable to themselves first, which by default makes them accountable to their business and their ultimate success!

#7. Winners Expect To Win

Since 1977, the International Ice Hockey Federation has been organizing the World Junior Hockey Championship. And every year only one team truly EXPECTS to win that tournament. This one team EXPECTS to win so much so, that anything less than a gold is cause for national disgrace and witch hunts over what went wrong. While other teams might jump for joy over a silver medal, the very idea of silver is sickening and repulsive to this one team.

Since 1977, this team has won no fewer than 15 of the 33 gold medals up for grabs. They have also captured a dozen silvers and bronzes – finishing out of the medals on just 6 occasions.

The Canadian World Junior Team is a classic example of a team that EXPECTS to win; just like the NFL Steelers, the New York Yankees, Los Angeles Lakers and as much as I hate to say it, decades and decades of the Montreal Canadiens. You ask any one of the players or coaches who have been inside great organizations like these and they will tell you that the very idea of losing is disgusting. The parallels from the worlds of the Steelers, Yankees and Canada’s World Junior Team to the big winners in business like Apple, Nike and McDonalds are unmistakable. These are all great examples of teams that fully EXPECT to win when they step out to do battle!

If you take just one lesson from this list, I would hope you honor yourself, your families, your teammates at work by refusing to lose and EXPECTING to Win!

I know I EXPECT nothing less.


Ken's message about "What Winners Know" appears to have something in common with a deal that went down the night before Super Bowl XLV.

The night before the big game, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy cancelled the final team meeting and had everyone fitted for Super Bowl rings.

Talk about going out on a limb and placing faith above fear.

It was a gutsy move considering the ridicule McCarthy and the Packers would have faced if the Steelers had won.

Mike McCarthy expected to win.

So did Winston Churchill when the "Battle of Britain was about to begin.

And so did Sylvester Stallone when debts were thick and dollars were thin.

What about you?

Do you need to develop more of a winners mindset?

Whether you need to win for the sake of your company, career or country, are there two or three ideas from this list you could apply?

And take your game to the winners circle.

"You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win"

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at and

Get to know Gair on Facebook at

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter -!/seamlessbrand
or plug into The Seamless Brand on FaceBook -

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is Your Downpayment Due?

"If God had intended that man should fly, he would have given him wings"
GEORGE MELVILLE, Chief Engineer, U.S. Navy, 1900

According to Wikipedia, a "Downpayment" is a term used in the context of purchasing expensive items such as a car or a house. Payment is made upfront on a portion of the total amount due - usually in cash - before monthly installments kick in that will take care of finalizing the entire transaction.

The acquisition of "success" works much the same way.

And the price for any success you might enjoy always includes a downpayment called "Failure".

In other words, if you are serious about success in any endeavour, you have to know going in, that passion, hard work and dedication won't be enough. You will have to make "failure" as part of the downpayment, without ever knowing for certain what the final outcome will be.

If it's a guarantee you are looking for, go buy a toaster.

But, anyone who invests any amount of time to study the common pattern shared by uncommonly successful people will notice "failure" as one of its most common denominators.

Over the last several weeks, a friend of mine who is starting a new business, has had to make some hefty downpayments. Only a couple of days away from launching a major project, this new entrepreneur was forced to fire their first employee; has been scrambling like mad to find a replacement and is up to you know where in dealing with unwelcome surprises like cost overruns and inventory issues. Despite sleepless nights and the gnawing of constant worry, this new business owner recognizes these setbacks are a necessary part of the process and is determined to move forward.

Though not a sports fan, this owner is grasping the wisdom shared by one of the greats in any game.

"I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed"

For the most part, failure has gotten a bad rap.

Typically it's viewed as a negative.

But, failure is where you will start to learn.

When viewed as a positive, failure is a necessary steppingstone to success.

So, it's really nothing to be afraid of.

However, the prospect of failures and making mistakes too often make people scared shitless when it comes to taking risks of any sort.

Failure also wears many labels.

You can call them false starts or stumbling blocks; detours or dead ends, but none of these are permanent conditions to those who have learned to overcome failure.

The Wright brothers built seven "flying machines" and crashed each of them more than once before a successful launch at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

The first time Jerry Seinfeld walked on stage, he stared out at the comedy club audience, froze and was booed off the stage. But he came back the next night, nailed his performance and the rest is yada-yada-yada.

J.K. Rowling was broke, divorced, dependant on welfare and trying to raise a child on her own while attending school and writing a novel. Within a five year period she became one of the richest women in the world thanks to "Harry Potter".

Cynics and skeptics will say, "Those rags to riches stories only happen to the rich and famous". "Nothing like that ever happens to ordinary, everyday people".

And that's what makes the story of Mama Moon so fascinating.

Failure, like nearly everything in life, is relative.

In my experience, every failure or setback merely presents an opportunity to improve and eventually succeed.

How can you take the most traumatic, terrible thing that has ever happened to you and use it as a downpayment on your eventual road to success?

No doubt, you have endured hard times along the way.

But, what if you looked at those hard times as nothing more than a downpayment?

A downpayment that always comes due.

"If we all worked on the assumption that what is accepted as true is really true, there would be little hope of advance"

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at and

Get to know Gair on Facebook at

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, why not jump in, click and explore You can also follow The Seamless Brand on Twitter -!/seamlessbrand

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Faultless @ Fairmont

I rush downstairs and open the conversation this way:

"First of all I want you to know there is an issue, it was totally my fault, but with the help of the hotel, I have it all taken care of".

It really was my mistake.

Or as the Led Zeppelin classic goes, "Nobody's Fault But Mine".

With my car in the shop, we had taken "her" car on the road for a speaking engagement to a national conference being held at the Fairmont Alqonquin in St. Andrews, NB. Overlooking historic Passamaquoddy Bay, this Tudor-style “Castle-by-the-Sea” has welcomed guests from all over the world since 1889.

We were soon to discover this isn't just any hotel.

From the moment we walked into this 122-year old establishment we were made to feel right at home. Justin at the front desk went above and beyond to make sure we were well looked after. Justin even dialed the only local pizza joint in this town of 1700just to make sure they stayed open late enough so we could grab some evening slices.

The next morning, a server named Steve spies me working on a laptop in the lobby. He graciously offers coffee. There was no charge. Steve was just being hospitable at 6:30 a.m. Another guest who was also served java in the same classy manner commented, "That young man will go far. It seems they do a great job of picking good people around here".

But the clincher was what happened with "her" car.

That late night chivalrous excursion for pizza in the midst of Wednesday's blizzard would provide for great drama the following morning. Not familiar with driving "her" car, I had forgotten to turn the lights off. As you might suspect the lights on my vehicle shut off automatically. But not so with "her" car.

That becomes an issue in sub-zero temperatures the next morning when faced with a dead battery, stuff you still need to get out of the car (and you can't because the remote key is dead as well) and you are about 20 minutes away from addressing a large group of delegates at a national conference.

At most hotels, this would be a real issue, but not at the Fairmont Algonquin.

"No problem Mr. Maxwell", they tell me at the front desk.

And then come the words that would make any customer swoon.

"Just leave us the keys and we'll get the car boosted while you are delivering your presentation".

Problem solved.

Hence my willingness to fall on the accountablity sword so quickly once "she" appeared.

But later, we discover another issue.

Seems that whoever it was that took care of the boosting operation also left the car running with the only set of keys still in it. With the doors locked.

But, once again the Fairmont Alqonguin folks were on top of it, arranging for a local locksmith to have the vehicle ready for our 12:30 departure deadline.

There aren't enough words in this blog post to convey the deep sense of thanks and appreciation we feel for the entire Fairmont Algonquin team. A sincere "thank you" is hereby extended to Justin, Steve, Heather and everyone connected at the Fairmont Algonquin in St. Andrews, N.B. for living way above and beyond the fault line when it comes to delivering customer service that legends are made of.

Truly, one of the most "seamless" brand experiences I have ever witnessed on the front lines of business.


"The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary"

p.s. ... "Nobody's Fault But Mine" just might be the song that best defines personal accountability. A traditonal blues number, the first known recording was made by blues-gospel guitarist Blind Willie Johnson somewhere around 1927.

Although the song has been covered by many artists over many decades, perhaps none more famously so by what you find on the album "Presence" from legendary rockers Led Zeppelin.

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at and

Get to know Gair on Facebook at

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, explore

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Where is Your Slaughterhouse?

You have a product or service you would like to sell, but far too often you find yourself wishing ...

"If only I could come up with a way to totally differentiate what it is we do. If only there was a way we could come up with something that would make us stand out and stand apart from our competitors".

The first step is to realize there is nothing unique about your problem.

Thousands of people have already faced and defeated challenges exactly like yours, once they paused long enough to look under the hood. Don't let the make and model fool you. Once you pop the hood, it's the same shit, only different.

For many, history class was the most boring subject ever taught in school, but only through understanding the lessons of history will you be able to predict and shape your future.

For example:

The automobile was first invented in the 1800’s and for the better part of 50-60 years, vehicles were assembled one at a time. It was both time-consuming and expensive and many companies fought the same war the same way. In fact, between 1900 and 1908, there were 502 automotive manufacturers in the United States alone.

But everything changed in 1908. That's when Henry visited a Chicago slaughterhouse and watched what an army of butchers were doing to strip carcasses on a dis-assembly line. He observed how each worker performed a singular task, then passed their work onto the next person in line.

Henry Ford saw common patterns that could be applied to his business. Before long cars were coming off the line in three-minute intervals. Ford's competitive advantage soared. Hundreds of other automakers who refused to adapt eventually went broke and were forced to shut down.

What few understand is that Henry didn't invent anything new. He simply borrowed a parallel concept from a totally unrelated industry or discipline and with a few modifications applied it to his own. On the surface, butchering hogs and cattle has nothing to do with building cars, but the common patterns that could be borrowed from a Chicago slaughterhouse were uncommonly clear to Henry Ford.

In the 1990's, Steven Sanger was the CEO of General Mills a company that was making more than a million dollars and hour, 24/7/365. But in order to stay ahead, Sanger needed to improve efficiencies within factories that made things like cookies and cereal. In the case of General Mills, the common patterns were detected by studying efficiency models in the pit crews at a NASCAR race. And what once stalled General Mills plants all over the world for 5-6 hours was sliced to an average of 17 minutes, once Sanger found his "slaughterhouse".

Far too often the easy way out is found by popping a hood called "best practices”. The logic seems solid. "Why reinvent the wheel?" “Let’s just copy what everyone else is doing."

But in many cases, "best practices" is often a road to second-rate mediocrity.
And why in the world would you strive to play second banana to what some competitor) is already doing?

Start popping the hood under other industries and other disciplines. You may find your answers from studying World War II military tactics, the evaluation process behind the NFL draft and scouting combines, the tribal nature of religious cults, or the sub-atomic properties of plants and animals.

Where you find your "slaughterhouse" matters little.

What matters is that you start looking.

In a previous life, Kevin was faced with the challenge of re-packaging high end business software for the consumer market. To cut down on development costs, Kevin noticed a common pattern from his experiences in the cat food industry, where many different flavors were based on two simple paste formulas; beef and tuna. Once Kevin identified cat food as his "slaughterhouse", software development was based on two platforms; reading and math. Development costs dropped substantially, stock price soared from $8 to $54 dollars a share and the company was eventually sold to Mattel for $4.2 billion dollars.

Does that help explain why Kevin O'Leary has been able to slaughter the markets and a host of wanna-be entrepreneurs on CBC's "Dragons Den"?

Henry Ford, Steven Sanger and Kevin O'Leary saw the value in popping the hood to see what was really underneath other industries, processes, products, or disciplines. So if you're looking to light the lamp of innovation, start looking around and then ask the following questions:

• What are the specifics of the problem you’re trying to solve?
• Who else has faced a similar type challenge?
• How did they solve it?
• What can you adapt, borrow and apply to your situation?

The world is full of "slaughterhouses" waiting for you to discover common patterns.

Imagine what will happen to your world when you find yours.

"One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn't do"

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at and

Get to know Gair on Facebook at

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, explore

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Where Ice and Steel Collide

Super Bowl XLV.

This Sunday.

Where "Ice" meets "Steel".

Irresistable forces colliding with immovable objects.

Two of the NFL's most storied franchises will engage in much more than a clash between football teams. The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers each bring their own sense of tradition and deeply rooted legacies to Sunday's game in Dallas. Between them, these squads have accounted for 18 league titles and the Super Bowl trophy is named after Green Bay's iconic coach Vince Lombardi.

For the Packers, this will be their 5th trip to the Super Bowl. They have won three previous titles; their journey as a franchise still defined by what happened in 1967 on the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field as they fought their way to Super Bowl I.

The Steelers are pursuing their seventh title overall. They are 6-1 in previous Super Bowls, with the first bricks on their road to glory laid in their first-ever playoff game; a one-day war waged at Three Rivers Stadium in 1972 against the Oakland Raiders.

Super Bowl Sunday will see more than 100 million viewers tuning in with kickoff schedule for 6:30 EST.

The FOX Television network sold all 68 spots back in October, with a price-tag of about $3 million dollars for a 30-second commericial. Christina Aguilera will sing the national anthem and the Black Eyed Peas will perform at halftime.

But in the end, it will all come down to Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

The Packers and Steelers. Mirror images in today's NFL.

Both franchises are built on a bedrock of tradition and a clear sense of how things should be done. Neither is a high-profile destination for expensive free agents, nor are their owners deep-pocketed egomaniacs, willing to shell out for star players who may help generate headlines, but not results.

Sunday's game will provide fans with much more than just another football game.

On the world's biggest stage, history will unfold yet again.

As another chapter is written.

In Steel.

"Most of the time, the most physical team has a chance to win. That is not a reality we shy away from"

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at and

Get to know Gair on Facebook at

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, explore

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Solving Through Gaming

Pick a world problem.

Any one.

Poverty. Famine. Insurrection. Global warming. A world without oil. War between nations or the sexes. Or any one of the hundreds of other problems in the world waiting to be solved.

And then ask yourself a simple, almost silly question.

"What if many of the world's greatest problems could be solved through gaming?"

Jane McGonigal, PhD is the author of "Reality is Broken": Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. She has created and deployed award-winning games in more than 30 countries. Jane has also developed internal game workshops for more than a dozen Fortune 500 Companies, including Intel, Nike, Disney, McDonalds, Accenture, Microsoft, and Nintendo.

Jane's #1 goal in life is to see a game designer nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Watch this recent TED Talk.

Really watch it (when you have the time, of course) and then decide for yourself if Jane is on to something here.

Interesting concept isn't it?

Leverage the collective intelligence of millions of gamers around the world and make a real dent in the universe through gaming. As Jane puts it, "When we're playing games, we're not suffering".

What do you think?

What would thought leaders like Aristotle, DaVinci or Einstein had thought about this concept if they were around today?

Is this an approach worth considering?


"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing"

p.s.... Jane also has a new secret headquarters. You can find it at

Would you like Gair to re-energize, re-focus or re-inspire your organization or event? Details on his keynotes and speaking programs can be discovered at His book, "NUTS, BOLTS AND A FEW LOOSE SCREWS" is also waiting patiently for you at and

Get to know Gair on Facebook at

For more info on The Seamless Brand and how this program can benefit your company or organization, explore