Reflections on 2010

As I write this final Monday Morning Wake-Up for 2010, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for reading my weekly insights, inspirations and no-compromise rants. I’ve been teaching, writing and coaching for almost 40 years. To those loyal fans from my Cutter Magazine days in the early 80s, thank you for honoring, trusting and believing in me all these years. We’ve been through a lot together. For all my fans who have followed me these 17 years at Strategies, I promise to continue sharing the top business and leadership growth thinking and strategies you can find anywhere. I also promise that the best is yet to come in 2011 and beyond. So, buckle your seatbelt and get ready for an amazing ride.

For me, 2010 started out with a Strategies Incubator in San Francisco. Even after 17 years, I just love teaching this four-day learning marathon because it delivers a proven blueprint for achieving the results every business strives for – a dynamic team-based culture, consistency and profitability. Simply put, Incubator changes lives because it turns dreams and aspirations into reality. And teaching Incubator alongside my team of Certified Strategies Coaches who live the systems every day in their companies is a personal joy that words cannot describe.

I remember that on January 19 at 7 a.m., I was at my computer, ready to hit the link to register for the Harpoon Brewery to Brewery ride. It’s a one-day, 150-mile road bike ride, from the Harpoon Brewery in Boston Harbor to their brewery in Windsor, Vermont – with a total of 7,500 feet of climbing. The ride sold out in 20 minutes. The ride was on June 19. I’ve done 100-mile rides, but this one had me so nervous, I couldn’t sleep the night before. We were out of the gate at 5:15 a.m., riding through the deserted streets of Boston. By noon it was hot and humid, a rusty screw punctured my front tire, and I got a bee sting on my left shoulder blade. With a nice little 7-mile climb up a hill Harpoon fondly calls “The Leviathan,” my left knee was aching, the heat got to me, and I made the right decision to throw in the towel at the next rest stop. I completed 100 miles and hitched a ride to the beer. Still feel like I have some unfinished business to complete next spring.

In April, I headed to Austin, TX, with a team of Strategies Coaches to do our first annual Strategies RECHARGE! event. About 85 owners and staff came together for two days of strategic vision sharing, culture alignment – and an amazing afternoon of outdoor team-building exercises. For me, the most memorable part was the evening Spotlight Party that featured owners and staff telling their Strategies success stories. The courageous stories of overcoming the odds didn’t leave a dry eye in the house. The 2011 Strategies RECHARGE! will be held in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 3-4 at La Grave Field – a minor league baseball park. The theme will be “Is your team making every inning count?”

One of my favorite venues to do keynotes and classes is the Harms User Group Conference. The 2010 Harms UGC was in Miami at the Doral Resort. Working with John Harms and his team is always memorable and full of fun. John and I did a presentation with our fellow Scotsman Robert Cromeans – known for his creative outfits. I will never forget – neither will the audience – when John Harms introduced me for my general session keynote. I stepped away from the podium with my own makeshift version of a Scottish sporran (those cool little bags Scotsmen wear with their kilts). It was actually a small women’s handbag dressed up with a Mardi Gras feather mask and assorted glow sticks. Everyone in the house completely lost it as I strutted across the stage. If you ever find a picture of that moment, please share it with me.

In November I made my first trip to Paris to be the keynote speaker at the OMC World Congress. There were 300 attendees from more than 60 member countries. Working with a bank of interpreters, I delivered my No-Compromise Leadership speech. My message clearly translated well. Even though it rained during most of my trip, Paris was wonderful.

I decided to buy a new black suit at Nordstrom for my Paris trip. I told the gentleman assisting me in the men’s department that I needed a suit that would impress an international audience in Paris. He asked what I topic I was going to speak on. When I told him I was doing s speech based on the title of my No-Compromise Leadership book, he asked some more questions. As we were wrapping up the purchase, he asked if I would like to be a keynote speaker the annual Quality Conference in Charlotte in April for executives and quality specialists from the world’s most recognized companies. Of course I said, “Yes.” Go figure – buy a new suit at Nordstrom and get an amazing speaking gig! You never know what opportunities lurk in the strangest places.

I wrapped up the year speaking at the annual ISPA Conference in Washington, DC, on my favorite topic: Team-Based Pay. Speaking to a packed room of international spa owners and directors, I delivered the gospel on the challenges of traditional pay methods and how Team-Based Pay creates the foundation for building extraordinary cultures and planned profitability.

My MMWU for December 13 was titled, “Is it time to find your replacement?” Well, on December 17, I did just that. I named Robbi Grayson as the new president of Strategies. Hey, I’m not retiring and will continue my role as CEO. Robbi brings such a diverse background to Strategies. She is an innovative thinker and is already brimming with new ideas for the company. She truly understands what Strategies is all about (she was one of my coaching clients in 1999) and is firmly committed to continuing bringing outstanding business education and coaching to the beauty industry and beyond. This move will allow me to focus more on the things that feed my passion – speaking, writing, and teaching. She joins Strategies as of February 1.

This wraps my MMWUs for 2010. Thanks again for reading. I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and a most prosperous New Year. See you in 2011.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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