On Leadership and The Politics of Onions

The Politics of Onions

There’s an interesting dynamic taking place in India right now. It’s a lesson about creating political change, but it also offers a great insight into how to be more effective as a leader and/or a marketer.

Indian politicians have been battling one another as to how to reverse the country’s declining economy, but no consensus has been reached. (Sound familiar?) However, the weakened economy has taken an interesting twist.

It’s driven the price of onions up dramatically – nearly 5-fold in a month!

On Onions and Culture

While this may not seem like a major event to many of us, in India, it’s catastrophic. Indian families of all social strata eat onions in or with just about every meal. An increasing portion of the population cannot afford to buy onions, and therein lies the interesting dynamic.

As we all know, politicians tend to argue for solutions which favor their own agenda or the agenda of their party. But a groundswell of public protest and discontent is about to change all that. It will change the politics because unhappy constituents tend not to re-elect politicians.

Appreciating the impact of this dynamic can give us an insight into how to be more effective in our leadership and in our marketing.

Motivation is Personal

If you want to motivate people to take action, you must address something that matters to them. Whether we’re talking about politicians, members of our team, or potential customers, people tend to act in their self-interest.

When it comes to leadership, if you want to motivate people to take action, you must appeal to something that matters to them. Setting goals does not motivate most people. Yes, some love the challenge , but many are not motivated by goals.

And, as you’ve probably observed, most people aren’t motivated by more money, either.

What’s In It For Me?

Study after study has demonstrated that more money is pretty low on the list of things that are important to people.

Instead, people appreciate things like:

  • Getting respect
  • Having autonomy
  • Gaining recognition
  • Being Appreciated
  • Having a purpose
  • Taking pride in their work
  • Work/life balance

When it comes to marketing, that old acronym comes to mind – WIIFM – “What’s in it for me?” Prospects are not moved to action by logic – they are moved to action by emotion.

In your marketing, if you can appeal to what matters to them (the benefits) rather than how great you and your products are (the features), you’ll have far more success getting people to take action.

Whether it’s politics, leadership, or marketing, if you want people to act on your behalf, you must give them what they want – what matters to them.

So, as a leader, are you considering what “the onions” are to your team members? Are you looking to their personal, professional, and social aspirations as you lead them? How can you recalibrate your thinking to become more influential with the people that you lead? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Michael Beck
Michael J. Beck is President of Michael Beck International, Inc
He helps leaders improve their personal effectiveness and productivity
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About these ads

Dirt Road Leadership

Dirt Road

I have a dirt road heritage. Much of my roots stem from a tiny patch of land in the mountains of very rural Alabama.

Proud? You bet.

And really it is not just a heritage thing. It is mostly because I was raised with some very strong values. Values are the foundation in my life. And that is a good thing.

On Leadership and Values

Values are the foundation of leadership as well. A new buzz in the current leadership books depicts Values Driven Leadership as all the rage. Values are absolutely the frame that surrounds the picture all of our best laid plans.

But how do we determine them?

Getting Started

Here’s an idea that will work. Take your blank legal pad and your trustworthy writing implement. Open up the flood gate of ideas in bullet form fashion and as fast and furiously as you can list all the things that you count as important to who you are and what defines you as an individual.

Let this be a time of idea fluency.

Green light every idea, don’t second guess anything as you list every little thing you think is part of the definition of your existence.

Now take a break, step away from the pad, go let your mind do something else. Get something to drink – I suggest Diet Coke.

Round Two

At some not so distant future time, come back to the pad and cross out half of them that if you had to choose only half, could be eliminated.

Now take a break, step away from the pad, go let your mind do something else. Get something to drink – I suggest Diet Coke.

Again, return to your thoughts and cross out half of them that are the lesser important statements.

Take a break, you know the drill.


Values Sorting Exercise with Recalibrate Cards

Values drive decisions. Decisions drive behaviors. Behaviors drive results.

Recalibrate Cards - Values Sorting & Prioritization Exercise

Round Three

Repeat this process until you absolutely cannot eliminate any other statements because they are just too important to you. These remaining ideals, friends, are your values. These are the core of your existence, the things you would take a bullet for.

This is the outline for your values statement which gives you the framework for your mission and your vision. These are the foundations of your life. You have a reason and means to define your existence.

Interestingly enough it works for your team, in a corporate setting as well. Give it a try, it will give you sure footing in an ever-changing world.

Here’s to dirt roads, diet cokes, values and leadership.

So, how fully aware are are you of your personal values? Have you taken an inventory to see what is driving your decisions, behaviors, and results? If not, take a minute and see how powerful this can be to help you raise your level of personal leadership effectiveness. You will be glad you did!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Dr. Dan Roberts
Dr. Dan Roberts is professor of Organizational Leadership at Point University
His teaches “If you desire to lead, you must decide to serve.”
Email | LinkedIn | Twitter |  Web | Skype: Danroberts531

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On Seeding and Weeding – A Way of Leading

Seeding and Weeding

Growing your business is both an art and a science. It involves so many moving parts, changing conditions, and threats from all sides that it almost seems like a company is “an actual living organism.”

But rather than diving too deep into a super-complex living organism like a bumble bee to explain group and financial dynamics, let’s start off with broccoli.

On Leadership and Vegetables

The inspiration for this article comes from my humble vegetable garden, which has suffered quite the recession this year.  Located in St. Louis, MO, it saw nothing but high temperatures and very little rain.

However, my labor of love in gardening is finally starting to come back as the weather has cooled off,

And in the next few days or weeks, I should be eating fresh homegrown tomatoes, arugula, swiss chard and more.

While I am definitely not one to give gardening advice (can anyone tell me what to do about the green bugs eating my broccoli?), I have noticed some basic gardening concepts that apply to the way I run my business and the way I live my life.


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Rule #1: Plant Many Seeds

If you have ever tried to start a plant from seed, you know that planting one seed does not usually do the trick.  You must plant multiple seeds to increase your chance of getting a healthy seedling to grow.

In business, you should follow the same principle.

Thank You CardMy profession in Real Estate is not only a sales profession, but is about building long-lasting relationships.  I keep my referrals strong and my customer-base happy by planting seeds.  My seeds are small acts of kindness that take me little time and cost little money, but evoke a positive feeling from my clients.

A recent example is thank you cards I sent out to people that allowed me to feature them on my blog as part of a neighborhood feature.

When featured on my blog, people shared their favorite local spots with me and reasons they loved their neighborhood.  In turn for allowing me to share this with the world, I sent them a $10 gift certificate to one of their favorite local places.

The first person that received the gift immediately emailed me to thank me and said this:

“Thank you SO MUCH for the gift card! You DID NOT have to do that!!! I must start sending you more referrals!”

Leadership Lesson: Plant MANY seeds

When you do this, some will grow and some won’t. The lesson here is “The more you plant, the more successful you will be.”  

For other terrific ideas on how to wow your customers and client base by going above and beyond, I highly recommend reading the “The Thank You Economy” by Gary Vaynerchuk.


Values Sorting Exercise with Recalibrate Cards

Values drive decisions. Decisions drive behaviors. Behaviors drive results.

Recalibrate Cards - Values Sorting & Prioritization Exercise


Rule #2: Weed Early and Often

You know the feeling… Its been hot, or rainy, or you’ve been busy…. But whatever the reason may be, you and your lawn have been on a friendship break and now you are kicking yourself.

Weeds have taken your grass hostage and all you can think is, why didn’t I attend to this sooner?

Many problematic issues we have in business (and in life) start the same way: They start as a little weed that could easily be pulled out.  Many times, we don’t want to deal with the burgeoning issues in front of us in hopes that they will go way.

But alas, they find that if we had simply dealt with the issues sooner, and simply done the work to pull the weeds, that our lives would be much easier.

Now going back to Real Estate, I see this issue many times with homes that have suffered neglect:

  • What starts out as a small roof leak has now turned into a ceiling collapse, stained carpeting, mold issues and more.
  • What was once a home with a small repair is now a home that needs “We Buy Ugly Houses” to come to the rescue.

Its a simple principle, but easy to forget:

“Weed EARLY and OFTEN!”

Rule #3: Don’t Kill The Butterflies

I am still sad thinking about a particular situation of despair… 

American SwallowtailAfter a week-long trip, my husband and I returned to our vegetable garden to find our parsley plant completely eaten.  In its place were dozens of long black and yellow bugs that were pretty gross!

My husband didn’t want the bugs to spread on to other plants, so he immediately pulled the parsley plant out of the garden.

That night, I went to do some research on our little infestation only to find that the bugs were black swallowtail caterpillars that turn into beautiful black swallowtail butterflies.

I read countless stories of how people specifically plant parsley to attract the caterpillars to their garden.  If we had only known!

The moral of this story is this: Do some research and think before you act.  Many times, issues arise that we think may be a problem, but could really be a great opportunity.  All it takes is a little research and before you know it, you could be surrounded by butterflies.

How have you mistakenly jumped to conclusions thinking that your solutions are disguised as problems? How have you failed to take the quick actions to root out problems in their infancy as small weeds? How can you work to identify emerging problems as “weeds” so that you either eliminate them before they emerge or pull them early before they strangle your business? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Hayley Tomazic is a real estate agent with JF Meyer Realty in St. Louis, MO.

She serves her clients with Beautiful Homes that Bring Them to Life
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