What Can We Learn About Business From PGA Tour Winner Jimmy Walker?

Jimmy Walker has not had an easy road to success on the PGA Tour.  He won his first tour event at 34 years of age, after going 0 for 187 during his first seven seasons on tour.  During the last two PGA Tour seasons he has won five times.  That is quite a turnaround.  So what does his success playing golf at the highest level over the last two seasons have to do with your business Mr. Business Owner? Like you, Jimmy Walker opened his business, he opened by turning pro, you opened by asking customers to pay you for your product or service.  He had some initial success, making his way onto the PGA Tour via the Tour’s Q-School, making some tournament cuts and earning some prize money.  Your business has provided you with some income and perhaps some personal stability and quality of life. Jimmy has had some OK seasons and some not so OK seasons.  At one point his wife considered going back to work because Jimmy’s business was running at a loss and they were close to running out of money.  The low point of his tour career was in the 2009 season when he sunk to 125th on the money list.  You may have had some ups and downs in your business.  You may have had some losing years.  And you too may have been close to running out of cash.  After all, very few businesses take off like a rocket, earning consistent growth and profit year after year.  In addition, many businesses initially grow and then level off, seemingly stall. So what did Jimmy do to achieve the success he has had during the last two seasons?

“About four years ago I made a shift in the way I do things.  I was tired of finishing 125th in money.  I was working hard but working on the wrong things and I wanted to figure out what to change, how to put different people in place to help me get better.” – Jimmy Walker in an interview in the November 2015 edition of Golf Magazine.

Jimmy knows he has the talent to succeed.  He also realizes that to maximize his talent he needs to have the right team in place.  If you have been in business for more than a few months and are making a profit in addition to paying yourself a salary, then it is safe to assume that you have the talent succeed.  Or maybe your business is just bumping along, barely profitable or merely breaking even.  In either situation, the questions you should ask yourself are:
  • Am I working hard on the wrong things?
  • Do I have the right extended team helping me maximize my talents?
If you answered YES to the first question or NO to the second question, you owe it to yourself to contact me or any of my ActionCOACH colleagues.  We will be happy to assist you in reversing those answers and maximizing your results.

Remember the definition of insanity – Doing the same thing and expecting different results Don’t Be Insane!

Getting Through Those Conversations You Don’t Want to Have

I was recently reading a great article in Success Magazine by Shelley Levitt about difficult, delicate and distasteful conversations.  Several of the points in the article bear repeating with emphasis.  But first some background.  Many managers, leaders or entrepreneurs work very hard at avoiding these kinds of conversations.   This is a big mistake for a couple of reasons:
  1. As we say in many of our ActionCOACH presentations, the earth is round. Therefore, ignored issues and problems sooner or later come around and bite you in the butt.
  2. And ignored issues usually grow in severity the longer they are not addressed.
In the best-seller Difficult Conversations: How to Address What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen the authors make the point that leaders and companies that can adroitly confront what matters most, “will leave their competition in the dust.”  And a note to those of you who have risen to a level of leadership that requires you to begin to have difficult conversations; you cannot get promoted past having to have distasteful conversations, the opposite is true.  In fact inability to handle these conversations is one of the most common reasons people don’t succeed according to Heen. Here are a few suggestions for having successful professional conversations:
  • Be courageous. These conversations take courage, and there is no perfect time.
  • Be proactive. Don’t wait until an issue gets too big to be corrected.  Most of the time it is much more productive to make small incremental adjustments rather than having to correct major problems.
  • Plan the conversation. Pick an appropriate venue.  Avoid a spontaneous delivery fueled by anger or frustration.
  • Be direct and clear. Do not talk in tangents.
  • Be specific. Avoid generalizations.  “You were late returning from lunch three times last week” is much better than “you always come back from lunch late.”
  • Discuss Consequences Not Intentions. “When you are late with KPIs that causes many other delays” not “It seems you don’t think that on-time KPIs are important.”
  • No Buts. “Your suggestion to improve operations is great, but you need to design the next level of details” sounds critical, shutting down creativity, while “Your suggestion to improve operations is great, and you need to design the next level of details.” Is much more likely to open a productive dialogue.
  • Two Ears, One Mouth. Shut down your inner voice and simply listen.  “Listening is the most persuasive weapon” says Heen.
If you wish to get even better at difficult conversations and to accelerate your timeline to success, my colleagues and I at ActionCOACH would be happy to have a complementary, no obligation coaching session with you to better determine how much value we can add to your business.  Simply click the Free Business Coaching Session button near the top right of the screen.