LastPass ON MY PHONE - David DeWolf

What’s on My Phone: LastPass

Have dozens of passwords? Has your twitter account been hacked and now you dread having to change all of your accounts that share the same password?

LastPass bills itself as the last password you’ll have to remember. Allow yourself to use super-secure passwords without having to worry about remembering them (LastPass will even generate them for you). With LastPass your passwords are always secure and right at your fingertips — and you can even share them with a friend.

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You Can’t Help Everyone - David DeWolf

You Can’t Help Everyone (But You Can Help Someone)

You can’t help everyone. You just can’t.

You may want to. You may want to be generous. You may want to help everyone, but you can’t.

But what you can do is go all-in helping a few people.

Recently there’s been a college graduate who I’ve taken under my wing. I met her three years ago after giving a talk at a university. She did a phenomenal job of staying connected to me. She would reach out every four to six months with a quick update or let me know how something I said had resonated with her and she was acting on it or asking me a question. When she graduated, in a very professional yet aggressive manner, she came after me and asked for a job and asked for help finding a job.

I was incredibly impressed with her responsiveness, with her professionalism, with her passion. I decided to give her a hand. I’ve gone all-in by introducing her and helping her find a job. I’ve gone all-in on trying to shape her and teach her some things that will hopefully be beneficial to her as she goes and pursues a career in International Business.

This young lady was someone who impressed me. I found a good fit where I could without too much of a burden on myself, my job, my family responsibilities, and everything else, and I really made an impact in her life. I found somebody I believed in and who I could generously help in a means that fit with what I was doing and with where I was at in my life. I have invested in her and I’ve gone all-in to help her.

I get dozens and dozens, if not hundreds, of requests for jobs and I say no to them all the time. I say no all the time to those people just looking for an introduction because I can’t help them all efficiently or effectively.

Part of the reason I took special interest in this young lady is because I knew I could help. I was willing to give passionate introductions and genuine referrals. I was more than happy to stick my neck out because of what she had shown. I knew there was something there that she would grasp onto and take to the next level. I knew I could sink my time into helping her and have an impact.

For all the others, yeah, I can meet them for breakfast, I could have a phone call, or I could make an introduction, but would it really be impactful? Would it really be effective? No. I can’t help all those people. I simply don’t have the time to dive into the level that would be required in order to help them all.

You can’t help all the people all the time, but you can help one person and have an impact. Pick and choose where you spend your time being generous. This isn’t selfish this is prudent. It allows you to make an impact in the world without disrupting your own life and getting your own priorities out of balance.

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Why You Shouldn't Have More than a Few Direct Reports - David DeWolf

Why You Shouldn’t Have More than a Few Direct Reports

One of the most dangerous things for any leader is to have too many direct reports.

I was talking to an executive last week who was saying that he had 12 direct reports at one point in time and he was just able to reduce that to nine. Unfortunately, I think he still has too many on his hands.

You see, the difference between a manager and a leader is that a leader pushes things forward. A leader propels to the next level. A manager maintains the status quo.

Can you really push things forward, can you really take an organization to the next level if you have nine direct reports?

My Max = 5

I have found that the optimum number of direct reports for me is somewhere between three and five. I think the vast majority of people probably can only handle five as well. More than seven just flat-out scares me. Once you get over seven, its almost impossible for anyone to do anything more than maintain the status quo.

You have to have time, not just to do check-ins and see how people are doing or have a weekly team meeting, but you have to have time to think about each one of your direct reports and how to push them to be better leaders. How do you push their organizations to perform better? That’s the first reason why you shouldn’t have more than five or seven.

Build a Team

Secondly, you need to build a team. Your direct reports should be a team. Your team requires teamwork and if you have more than five or seven, it’s excruciatingly difficult to develop teams.

Teams work together in small groups. They collaborate, they build trust, they build relationships. It’s almost impossible to do that with nine or 12 people, especially if you’re working to create a high-performing team.

Responsibilities Beyond the Team

Finally, you have to remember that you’re not just managing these people. You have responsibilities to push the organization as a whole together. You need time for yourself.

It’s not just about building teamwork and it’s not just about leading individuals and having time to think about how to push them to the next level. It’s also about how you push yourself to the next level.

How do you take care of your own responsibilities? Too few leaders spend the time strategizing, thinking, and blocking off time to take themselves to the next level.

No Kingdom Building

For these three reasons, I believe the number of direct reports that’s optimal for any individual is between five and seven, no more. And you know what, if you can get fewer so be it.

Get out of the mode of kingdom building. It’s not about how many direct reports you can have, it’s about how effectively you do your job.

Think about organizational structures in a way that supports your strategy. Think about how to optimize the structures, the team, and the individuals within it. When you take the time to do that, I think you will find that you are whittling down your direct reports and reorganizing the organization to be optimal.

My One Exclusion

If you are truly a manager – you are managing the activities of staff – you may be able to expand the number of direct reports you are managing. This is a rare exception for leaders. Quite frankly, manager who are organizing activities in the field really are managers, not leaders. Organizations simply don’t scale without staff that are organized into operating units. 

That said, find a way to teach them to be leaders. Encourage them to be leaders. Grow them into leaders – and as you do so, figure out how to ensure that they are leading an optimized team as opposed to a kingdom.

Question: How many direct reports do you find to be ideal? Why or why not? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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Go. NOW. - David DeWolf

Go, NOW: A Lesson for Entrepreneurs

Sometimes you have to move. Sometimes you have to just do it. Sometimes you have to push the rock forward and do it quickly.

Too often people want to wait for perfection. Too often people want to put all the details together, have a perfect plan, before they move.

But entrepreneurial organizations require little wins. They require vision and direction. They require immediate change. They require momentum.

Make a decision and go. Don’t plan too much.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s important to plan! But the value is in the planning, not the plan. No matter how much you refine it, it will be wrong. No matter how much you’ve left out, you will have left out more than you thought.

Make a decision and go. Sometimes, that’ll disrupt people. Sometimes that will make them uncomfortable. Sometimes it will rock the boat. All of that’s okay.

Be prudent and be deliberate, but don’t be afraid to move.

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Want people to like your idea - David DeWolf

Want People to Like Your Idea? [Graphic]

Want people to like your idea? Of course you do.

Impressions matter. For better or for worse, most judgements and decisions are made with at least a minor emotional bias. When presenting a new idea or proposal or seeking buy-in, too many people depend solely on substance and forget the importance of good communication.

Here are a few tips on how to convey your message and win support for your idea.

1. Be concise.

2. Come prepared.

3. Be passionate.

4. Use a WOW! factor.

Want more? Be sure to read the post I wrote about this.

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Overcoming 4 Hurdles to Fully Integrated Communication - David DeWolf

Overcoming 4 Hurdles to Fully Integrated Communication

A few days ago I received a message from my little sister. She heard I was about to release a new eBook and she wanted to know why I hadn’t told her about it myself.

Just this past weekend Teresa and I went out for a glass of wine after the little kids went to bed. I shared with her some of the different projects that I’m currently working on and why I was so excited about them. It hit me that I had had many of these conversations with coworkers weeks before.

Unfortunately, both of these are par for the course. I’m simply not the communicator at home that I am in the office.

Communication is essential to professional success. All leaders are taught to communicate “7 times in 7 different ways.” Yet, no matter how deliberate we are about communicating our corporate strategy, these best practices don’t always seem to take root in the rest of lives.

If communication is so essential for corporate wellbeing, shouldn’t we assume that it’s at least as critical for optimizing our familial relationships?

As I’ve examined my own motivations, I’ve discovered four obstacles to personal communication that I need to overcome. Hopefully, my sharing them will help you see similar struggles in your life and give you the the motivation to strive to overcome them.

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Disconnect Perception and Reality - David DeWolf

6 Steps to Get Beyond “Perception Is Reality”

Perception is reality. It shapes the way that we interpret other’s actions. Our perception becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

If I perceive that someone is out to get me, I will naturally apply that filter to all of our interactions. I begin to see everything that individual does in light of my own perceived reality. I will interpret a complement as a backhanded insult. I will question their gestures as self-serving and question their motives.

Several years ago my relationship with a client rapidly deteriorated. A quirk in our contract, combined with some external factors that invoked the clause, made our agreement nearly impossible to live with. It placed both companies in a precarious position.

Though a series of unfortunate events our teams failed to address the situation and after months of negotiation the conflict escalated to the top. The client called me with great frustration. She felt we were being unreasonable in our demands and were trying to change the rules mid-stream. I felt as though she was trying to extract every penny from the relationship and was placing us in a situation where we had no chance for success. We both began to interpret every word and action through our own lens.

As you can imagine, the relationship began a rapid, downward, spiral.

The great part of the story is that we were actually able to reestablish rapport and rebuild a strong relationship. It wasn’t without months of hard work, but, we did it. Here’s how we worked together.

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TeamSnap ON MY PHONE - David DeWolf

What’s on My Phone: TeamSnap

Having trouble keeping track of all of the details of your kids’ activities? Do what I did and have the coach sign up for “TeamSnap.”

TeamSnap allows you to manage everything to do with kids’ activities – practices, games, teammates, fees, locations, fields, you name it. While everything I need to attend ultimately goes onto my calendar, having all of the details I might need at my fingertips saves me a ton of time when I’m rushing to get to the game on time.

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Why Your Relationships Are Not Really Yours - David DeWolf

Why Your Relationships Are Not Really Yours

Several years ago I met Sam. He was introduced to me by a friend who had known him through Church and a nonprofit that they both were involved in. Sam came highly recommended as one of the most connected people my friend had ever known.

Sure enough, Sam seemed to know everyone. And this was more than name dropping. It seemed as though he had a good deal of intelligence about the companies and people he was connected with. The breadth and depth of his relationships – especially at the executive level – was nothing short of impressive.

Unfortunately, Sam was also broke. He had recently gone through a near-bankrupt situation and was reeling to support his family. I found it odd that someone with such good connections and apparently solid character had struggled to make a living. What ever happened to “It’s who you know, not what you know”? Wasn’t there a way for Sam to leverage his relationships to find a job – perhaps even in business development?

However, Sam had one fatal flaw. He was more worried about protecting “his assets” than he was about adding value to those people’s lives. He protected his Rolodex with his life and refused to make introductions without a very steep – unreasonable – fee being associated with it.

Sam wasn’t a connector. He was a collector.

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5 Ways to Optimize Your Charitable Giving - David DeWolf

5 Ways to Optimize Your Charitable Giving

The recent success of the ALS #IceBucketChallenge has brought about a renewed focus to charitable giving. Over the past month (from July 29 through August 29), ALS received just over $101 Million dollars in donations compared to just under $3 Million during the same period last year: an undeniable—and unexpected—windfall for the organization.

Supporting philanthropic causes is undoubtedly a good thing, but is it wise for a charitable organization to receive such a huge surge of unexpected capital? Scaling an organization and making good use of newfound capital are difficult challenges for most for-profit organizations. Unfortunately most charitable organizations are not nearly as mature as their for-profit counterparts.

I have no clue whether the ALS was prepared for such a windfall, or whether their management, strategy, and tactics are prepared to handle their newfound success. What I do know is that on the surface this capital could have had a much more significant impact if the generous donors were just as deliberate about their donation as they were about their creative ice bucket ways.

Here are five strategies I’ve put in place over the years to ensure that my philanthropic investments are put to good use.

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