Category Archives: General News

If Education is the Key, School is the LOCK

It’s amazing to me how many people say they believe in something but won’t defend it.  For Christians, this might include not defending their religion or their God.  For non-Christians, this may include not standing up for their business or their favorite charitable organization.  But as slow as some Christians are to defend their faith, they are quick to defend their beliefs about the importance of a college education.

After enjoying a morning run with my daughter, helping her train for basketball, we were sitting at the breakfast table discussing the topic of education.  We talked about how it is so odd that you have to have two years of algebra now to graduate high school.  Why is that odd?  Because most people are never going to use algebra for anything!  Now, I agree there are some careers where you do need some math, such as engineering.  For example, I worked in a plant with forty-two high-tech robots.  But did I use algebra?  Nope!  I got by with basic math skills on a daily basis.  In fact, I honestly can’t recall a time I ever used algebra in my career!

Most education today is like a conveyer belt, as described by Oliver DeMille in his book Thomas Jefferson EducationIt moves people along from one thing to the next while subjecting them to the identical treatment.  But we are not robots to be manufactured; we are unique beings and our career paths will be unique as well!  A lot of the things we are taught in the “conveyer belt” education system are just not needed in our normal, day-to-day life.  Please understand: I am not against college or education… in fact, in a sense I am probably more PRO-education than most people that teach at a college.  I just believe education should be self-directed and that we should give it some thought before we dive into a certain curriculum.

With this in mind, I want to share a powerful video with you on the subject of education.  (Special thanks to my friend Tony from Michigan for sharing this with me!)   As you watch this short video, my hope is that it causes you to think.  Some people might feel their blood pressure rise.  Some might feel offended.  Some people might even turn off this video.  But what I’d like you to do, if you wouldn’t mind, is to watch the WHOLE video, and then at the end just challenge your thoughts on education and WHERE and WHY you and your children are getting an education.

Enjoy the video!

God bless, Tim Marks

The History of Thanksgiving

It’s amazing to me how far we’ve come from the tradition of Thanksgiving and what its original meaning was.  Originally Thanksgiving was set up as a day of prayer and thankfulness to God Almighty.  Some textbooks today in our own country teach that the original Thanksgiving was about being thankful to the native Indians for teaching us how to make food and how to grow corn, etc.  That simply is not true.  I’ve included a link below which shares some of the history of Thanksgiving.  Although the Pilgrims, the original Separatists, were thankful to the Indians for teaching them those things I’ve mentioned, they knew ultimately where all their blessings came from which is God Almighty, and that is who we need to be thankful for.  Let’s talk about those things and praise God and thank Him on this wonderful day, and every day.

God Bless, Tim Marks

http://wilstar.com/holidays/thankstr.htm

 

Practice Your People Skills…You Never Know When You’ll Need ’em!

This last weekend, I was travelling up to Ontario, Canada, to deliver a speech to a large business group. My wife Amy and I decided to get a rental car in Detroit and drive the rest of the way. As we were crossing the border into Canada, the customs agent asked us the nature of our visit. I replied truthfully that we were going to a business seminar, and as the conversation progressed, I explained that we were not just attending the event.…We were the keynote speakers.

This young lady did not like my answer; in fact, she seemed downright ornery. I can’t imagine being a customs agent is a ‘fun’ job, and perhaps she hadn’t yet listened to a lot of positive attitude CDs that day. But it really seemed she had woken up on the wrong side of the bed that day. She proceeded to ask me what made me qualified to be the speaker and why an American had to give the presentation and not a Canadian! The conversation went downhill from there. She soon demanded written proof that we had been invited to speak in Canada and threatened to send us packing if we didn’t produce some sort of formal invitation. This was a serious problem because I had a thousand people counting on me to arrive and inspire their business teams!

Now, the Tim Marks of the old days would have responded very harshly when backed against the wall like this. The old Tim would have wanted to put her in her place and show her who’s boss. The old Tim would have wanted to prove that she was wrong and I was right. And the old Tim would have won the battle, lost the war, and been sent packing back to Florida! Thank goodness the (somewhat) “new and improved” Tim was at the border that day because I got to practice all the people skills I had ever learned.

First, I got to practice remaining calm. I knew that if I got my knickers in a twist, I would look and sound angry, and that wouldn’t help anything. Second, I realized she had total control over my situation, whether that seemed fair or not. So I let her be the boss. When she said, “Get me some proof,” I said “Yes, ma’am!” I agreed with her that I should have the documentation and that I would get busy finding it. I got on the phone with the office, and after much scrambling around on a Saturday afternoon, the great people at the office were able to produce sufficient documentation to calm her down.

Years ago, I read in an article that 88% of the reason of someone “being invited to leave” (read: getting fired from) his or her job was because of interpersonal problems…and that poor people skills are the root cause of relationship problems. Unfortunately, most of us have not read enough people skills books (or perhaps any!) to have mastered this critical ability. I remember reading Dale Carnegie’s timeless classic How to Win Friends and Influence People—probably the best people skills book ever written.  It really impacted me. I remember feeling embarrassed because of my appalling lack of knowledge in this area. I was probably violating every principle in that book weekly, if not daily. I was in a managerial roll at my job as an engineer, and I wasn’t leading people; I was lording over them by intimidating and humiliating them. My nickname around the plant was “The Viking” because someone remarked once that if you needed to find Tim Marks, you just needed to follow the proverbial trail of blood and guts. I was a real jerk to my staff, and I was starting to realize it.

However, I also realized that I wasn’t stuck. I could change. I could make it a priority to become a gentler and kinder person and leader. So I dove into these sort of books and worked very hard over the years to sand off my rough edges. I still need a lot of improvement, but I am a lot better than I used to be! If I can do it, I know you can, too! So, what follows are some fundamental people skills from How to Win Friends and Influence People that, if followed, will help you vastly improve relationships at home, at work, and in your community. Here goes!

 

1. Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. Stay positive and don’t become negative. Most people are too focused on their own problems to care about yours, and grouchy people are actually glad you’ve got problems!  Instead of complaining, be the person that finds the good in each situation. It will make you more pleasant to be around.

2. Give honest, sincere appreciation. This is not flattery. The keyword is sincerity. If you’re not being sincere, people will know it. Everyone has SOMETHING they do well! Maybe the other people are a real pain to be around, and maybe they are big complainers. Well, there’s always something positive! For example, thank goodness they are pointing out the negative.…We need a canary in the coal mine! If everyone is positive, we might miss some critical error. Try to find something to appreciate in all of the people that you meet and know. At the very least, even grouchy people are good at converting oxygen into carbon dioxide, and that’s good for the lawn.

3.  Arouse in other people an eager want. You want to get people motivated, keep them motivated, and spur them on. You can only bribe, bully, threaten, and push people uphill for so long.…Eventually, if you want to lead people, they have to have a reason WHY they would want to take action. The best leader helps his or her people discover their WHY so they will take action.

4.  Become genuinely interested in other people. Don’t just pretend you’re interested. Everybody has something interesting about them. Find out what it is. Maybe they’ve run a marathon to raise money for cancer research. Maybe you walk into their home, and they have framed photographs they have entered in contests. Maybe they have championship dogs that they breed and train. Find out what makes them unique and ask questions about it.

5. SMILE. Yes, a real smile. A smile is contagious. We’ve all seen it. Find things to smile about and share your smile with the world. If you are feeling down…SMILE. It messes with your brain, and you start to feel better pretty quickly. (Besides, when you smile, grouchy people will wonder what you’re up to, and that’s fun all by itself.)

6.  Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. When you meet a person, learn his or her name and repeat it several times in the conversation. If it is a unique name, ask the person to spell it and make sure you pronounce it correctly. Everyone loves hearing his or her own name. We love hearing our own name. I also love being called Daddy by my children. (My wife also has a couple of other names for me, but none I can share with you today!)

7.  Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.  Don’t sit and wait for your turn to talk while you are listening. Be attentive and show actual interest in what the person is saying. The best way to make sure you are listening is to ASK QUESTIONS rather than tell your own story. And here’s a secret: What’s the best way to show an interest? By actually being interested!

8.  Talk in terms of the other person’s interests. Find some common ground. Don’t just bore someone with things that are interesting to you. You don’t have to fake interest; find real common ground. If you like sports, ask them what sports teams (if any) they enjoy. If you like cars, ask them what cars they enjoy. Same with food, movies, their kids, or anything else that might interest you both.

9.  Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely. Discover the causes the other person has fought for and the victories that person has achieved in life. What are that person’s unique gifts and skills? What are his or her God-given talents? Everyone is a genius at something, and by asking questions, you will discover that genius. Then, spend the rest of your time pointing out what the other person has done right. The only true way to make somebody feel important is for you to sincerely feel and believe that person is really important. If a person is in your life and you are spending time with him or her, then that peson should be important to you.

So, those are the nine principles. When How to Win Friends and Influence People was written in the early 20th century, it had a tremendous impact on people, and the thoughts and principles behind it are as true today as they were back then. Hopefully these principles will help you, whether you are a leader in business, your home, your church, or your community. I think that if we all hone up on our people skills, we will make the world a better place, simply by treating each other better. Now, go apply one of these skills today!

God Bless, Tim Marks

 

Four Personality Temperaments

As we each build our leadership communities, one thing that quickly becomes obvious is that people are unique!  Everyone has their own history, their own list of accomplishments, their own family situation, their favorite sport, favorite food, and their own personality style.  Despite all of the differences, when you start spending a lot of time with a lot of people over the years, you start to see some patterns in behavior emerge.  For example, you see that certain people are shy, and certain people are really confident.  Some people really love details and tasks, and some people just love to be around friends.  With practice, you can start to recognize the general patterns in people’s personalities, it can help you understand them a little better and relate to them more successfully.

 

Recognizing the different personality styles is nothing new.  People have been studying other people for as long as people have been around!  For example, a very famous Greek Philosopher named Hippocrates (after whom the Hippocratic Oath for medical practitioners is named) believed that in order to be healthy, your body needed equal amounts of four specific liquids. He called these liquids “humors” and they listed them as black bile, yellow bile, phlegm (“flem”), and blood. If you got sick, Hippocrates and his students thought it was because you had too much of one of these humors. So, they tried to cure you by removing some of those fluids! (Not always successfully, mind you, and not a very wise decision to begin with.  Just imagine the conversation!  “Hey Pythagoras, you still sick?  Well, let’s drain off a few quarts of that yucky blood stuff you’ve got inside and see if that doesn’t put some spring in yer step!”)

Fast forward a few thousand years and we humans are still trying to figure out ourselves and the people around us!  Luckily, some very smart people have done a lot of the heavy lifting for us.  A wonderful author, Florence Littauer, has written a great book to help us understand the four personality types.  That book is Personality Plus,  I really recommend you get a copy and start to master your understanding of the four personalities!   Why take the time to learn more about our personality style, as well as the people around us?  Because by better understanding ourselves, we know who we really are and why we react the way we do in certain situations.  We can recognize our strengths and amplify them, and we can be aware of our weakness and manage them more effectively.  When I got started in community building, my upline leaders took me aside and gently suggested that I learn more about the Choleric personality and study some people skills books, because my demanding choleric nature was a definite weakness for me!  So, let’s dive into our four personality styles: Melancholy, Phlegmatic, Sanguine, and Choleric!  (And yes, Melancholy’s, I know that isn’t in alphabetical order… it’s not the end of the world!)

Sanguine

This is the outgoing, people-oriented social-type. Sanguines are also known as the “Popular” type. They enjoy fun, socializing, chatting, telling stories – and are fond of promising the world, because that’s the friendly thing to do. A Sanguine gets on well with people and can get others excited about issues, but cannot always be relied upon to get things done. They love interacting with others and play the role of the entertainer or center of attention in group interactions. They have a tendency to over-promise and under-deliver.   A Sanguine would benefit from LISTENING more and letting other people tell stories… and not trying to upstage them!  As well, if you are a Sanguine and don’t know the correct answer, DON’T make up the numbers… the Melancholy’s will spot you doing it and you’ll lose their respect!  Some famous examples are Bill Clinton, Robin Williams, Kelly Ripa and Richard Simmons.

Melancholy

This is the reserved, task-oriented cautious type. Melancholies are also known as the “Perfect” type.  Their typical behavior involves thinking, assessing, making lists, evaluating the positives and negatives, and general analysis of facts. They love maps, charts and graphs. They are usually the most intelligent of the four types; however they tend to dwell on details. A Melancholy is a planner, making sure things happen, although sometimes they can paralyze themselves with over-analysis. Lists and “doing things the right way” are characteristics of this personality type.  Melancholy’s need to loosen up and let their hair down.  No one is perfect, even if a Melancholoy tries to be.  Don’t be so hard on yourself when you make a mistake… you are probably your own toughest critic.  Probably no one else noticed, so you don’t need to point out your error.  Remember that Cholerics and Sanguines are bored to tears with details, even if you find the details interesting.  When presenting to them, try to summarize the key points and move on.  Some famous examples are Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, and Beethoven.

Phlegmatic

This is the reserved and people-oriented type. They are easy going, laid back, nonchalant, unexcitable and relaxed.  Desiring a quiet and peaceful environment above all else. They tend not to actively upset people, but their indifference may frustrate people. They try not to make decisions, and generally go for the status quo. They are good as mediators because they don’t usually have many enemies. Phlegmatics are also known as the “Peaceful” type; they tend to want everyone to get along and not rock the boat.  They also have a “dry” and quick sense of humor. Phlegmatic leaders may not move as quickly as real Cholerics, but they can be just as—or even more—effective.  They may not work harder, but they just may work smarter!  If you are a Phlegmatic, you don’t have to say “yes” to every request… sometimes other people will take advantage of you if you don’t set up some boundaries and say “no” once in a while.  Some famous examples are Calvin Coolidge, Tim Duncan, and Keanu Reeves (Not his Matrix action-hero character, mind you… His Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure surfer character.)

 

Choleric

I’ve put Cholerics last so that they can practice being patient and recognize that they aren’t always the alpha male in the room!  🙂  This is the outgoing and task-oriented style.  Choleric are dominant, strong, decisive, stubborn and sometimes even arrogant.  Cholerics are also known as the “POWEFUL” type.  They tend to be good leaders because they are driven to get things done.  Unfortunately, they might offend some people along the way by not taking their feelings into account and stepping on some toes.  We joke that they are often wrong but never in doubt!  Cholerics often have the answers; they know what to do; they can make quick decisions; they bail others out in a jam—but they can struggle with being popular because their assurance and assertiveness make others feel insecure, and their ability to lead can easily make them appear bossy. Powerful Choleric should try to soften their approach with people while maintaining their amazing work ethic and results so that others will celebrate the Cholerics and not be offended by them.    Some famous examples are Donald Trump, General Patton and Bill O’Reilly.

So we’ve briefly touched on each of the four personalities, but it gives you a good introduction to them.  It’s my hope this blog inspires you to devour Personality Plus.  One thing to always remember: no personality style is better than the other.  Each has strengths and weaknesses.  Each style is complemented by someone else…. Which is why working as part of a team can be so powerful!  If you haven’t done so, take the time to read this book and learn about these styles.  If you’ve read the book once, read it again and master it!  You’ll discover the people around you are amazing!

God Bless, Tim Marks