I am just like you, a proud parent. I think my daughter is an amazing kid. I admire her for her achievements. While raising her, I stumbled upon a lesson that can be easily translated to how a CEO can manage, enhance and transform the culture of a company with a powerful idea. I would like to share it with you.

Ali_My daughter is 18 and leaving for college in the fall.

She received a generous scholarship at a high profile school, partly because of a book which she published earlier this year: “It’s Always Ourselves We Find in the Sea” (available on Amazon) and mostly due to her outstanding honor role grades, her being selected for All Eastern (the only vocalist in the last 10 years to be selected) and just about every other award for her musical achievements.

She’s written 12 songs, self taught herself Ukulele and has performed locally to standing ovations. Yes, I am proud. But it was no accident. It’s something I learned while building my software company: Timeslips Corp. which I sold in 1998, and what I discovered can transform a good kid and possibly your company too.

Back the 1990’s, Timeslips Corp. published software to help service professionals bill by the hour. We built a great product, so much so, we won “best software” every year in our category…. every year but one.

That year, we had problems.  Our software was buggy, customers were upset and the product was just not right. We didn’t win and it had a huge effect on morale. We had won EVERY year since we’d published the product.

Employees were angry at the company and partly themselves. We had a winner’s mentality but it took BEING a winner to get it. When we lost it, we were miserable and worked really, really hard to get it back.

Had we not lost it that one year, I would have never realized that being a winner was a state of mind that once achieved would run automatically as long as it could.

Bingo. Winner’s mentality.

Back to my daughter. We moved to the area when she was 5, leaving Dallas TX behind and back to New England. It was Saturday and my “dada day” with my daughter. I had to find fun things to do to keep her occupied. I tried, roller skating, I tried arcades, I tried jungle gyms, I tried miniature golf and then one day I took her candle-pin bowling. I was searching for something that would capture her interest.

Well, bowling was it. She loved it. She asked if we could go again the next day, I said yes. And again the next day. We went every week, 2x a week, sometimes more. She became part of the league and for 4 years, she practiced hard and loved it. I was happy to have found something she loved.

One Saturday, we found out that a long time bowler and older kid had dropped out of the competition; the state-wide tournament. She was asked to participate. All the other kids were bigger than she was, there were 4 others.

On the drive across the state, I asked my 9 year old how she felt about being in the tournament, she said she was excited and wanted to bowl. She never told me she was scared. I thought, at the time, that came from her unending appearances in Karaoke  competitions in front of people all the time.

We arrive to a crowded bowling alley packed with several hundred people. Her lane is at the end of the building and we walk by all the other state teams. They had outfits, cheers and a team coach! We had none of that. The rules are announced over an echoing, booming loud speaker explaining that each kid throws 5 frames.

My daughter went 1st. Her first frame was a gutter ball, second frame another gutter ball.

I am sweating, thinking her confidence is shot. I was wrong. Third frame she threw a strike, 4th, another strike, the other kids are screaming insane, 5th frame a spare, now they are jumping up and down.

Now they have respect for this pint size bowling machine.

She sits down. The other kids go, they were good but my daughter had the highest score. Her team won state-wide and our little local bowling alley won their 1st state-wide winner’s trophy in 30 years. There was a banquet where they honored the winners, gave them a gift, a speech, a trophy and a rubber chicken dinner.

Let’s Recap: Dad wants to build a great kid, remembers how staff at Timeslips had “winning” in their DNA and were bummed when it was lost.

Bright Idea: Find something, anything where she can experience being the best, winning, exceeding expectations. Rinse and repeat. She went on to win the state wide tournament again the next year.

My work was done.

She HAD to win, it was engrained in her to be the best.

I never ever had to push her to do homework, she had to get A’s, it was her passion, she was addicted to that feeling of being the best.

Fast Forward to Now.

How to use this lesson RIGHT NOW in your own company. Install a winning mentality in your staff. Pick something worthwhile and guide your staff to winning. If it’s softball, fine. If it’s a professional competition; advertising, marketing, product – anything where you can rally the company around a common goal. To win.

Then Do It. Get it to happen. Do it again.

Start slowly, even if it’s not business related. The goal is to install a winning mentality by winning, by excelling. Don’t give up, it took me months to find my daughter’s interest and years of practice. It took us years to win at Timeslips.

Don’t lose sight of the goal, it’s not to win any one particular prize or contest, it’s to WIN. PERIOD.

The goal is massive, your whole company depends on you doing it. When it’s done, you will be unstoppable.

Here’s a tip: See if you can spot that “winning mentality” in the people you hire. Ask them about their own highly developed skills, the activities that make them lose track of time. These are people capable of being winners in your company too. Get them to talk about their sport, musical ability, artistic endeavors or the science fiction novel they published. Watch as their energy shines, the eyes glaze over and you know they are truly driven by their passion. Now harness that and infect them with your mission and you’ll get the same results.

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