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Two sides of the coin - Talent Acquistion and Becoming a Peak Performer

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Editor's Note:  This is a story about how to retain peak performers and how to become a peak performer.

Retaining a peak performer: You've invested a lot in your top talent. You certainly don't wanttalent management and peak performers to see that investment go down the drain as they head over to the competition!  Here are some questions to unearth what's important to them and find out what you can offer to keep them in your organization.  

What accommodations do you make for unforeseen family issues? What transfers or global assignments can they anticipate? People may not ask these questions directly, but your answers will determine if they employ their talents with you or with the competition.

What Really Matters?
To peak performers: We encourage you to ask and answer the big questions about what really matters to reawake your passion for what you do. You might even decide to write your grandchildren.

This is what I actually did: Dear Yet to be Born Grandchildren, Greetings from the past! I was lucky to spend time with Peter Drucker. He encouraged people to ask, 'Who is the customer?' before they do anything.

I finally understood the importance of that question when Larissa MacFarquhar, a writer for the New Yorker, wrote a profile about me. Larissa spent two months traveling with me, and interviewing my family, my clients, and people who work with me. She then wrote a long story and published it for 800,000 people to read. This was a little scary, since some of the New Yorker profiles can be pretty negative, and I didn't get to read it ahead of time.

I originally thought that my 'customers' in doing this profile should be my clients--the people who pay me to do my work. I thought that maybe I should 'be careful of what I say' and try to act appropriately.

Maybe I should be careful not to embarrass anyone. But, as Larissa began to follow me around, I figured out who I really wanted to be my customers for this profile. It was you, my grandchildren. I decided that this profile was a special opportunity for you to get to know me.

I decided to just act like myself. If I had acted like someone who was too careful of what he said, it would have been a story about an imaginary person, not me.

Your grandmother and I discussed this, since she's in charge of our money. I told her to assume that we were going to lose $150,000 in business because of this profile.

I figured that by just acting like me, I might annoy someone who wouldn't want to work with me anymore. I figured that it would be worth the $150,000 to have a brilliant writer spend two months on a story about me that I could send to you.

As it turns out, I was glad that I just acted like me. I received approximately 300 e-mails about the profile. They almost all said the same thing: 'The good news is: It sounds just like you. The bad news is: It sounds just like you!' My fears about losing business as a result of this profile were unfounded. Not only did I not lose any business, I was later interviewed in the Harvard Business Review and many other publications.

I ended up with more clients--not fewer.

From this experience, I learned this lesson: Just be you. You are good enough. In the long run, any success you achieve, if you don't act like yourself, won't seem real anyway--you'll just feel like an imposter.

Do What's in Your Heart
I was one of the original developers of 360-degree feedback. I help successful leaders achieve a positive, longterm change in their behavior. I also try to help my clients (and everyone around them) have a happier life.

My greatest contributions in my career have come from stuff I invented.

No one can tell you how to do anything that hasn't been done before. To do anything creative, you simply have to make it up yourself as you go.

If you have an idea that sounds good to you, go for it. Just be you. Do what is in your heart. You may fail, but at least you try. Don't waste your life worrying too much about being normal.

Lots of people are normal. It is more fun to be different. Just be you.

When your grandchildren read the story of your life, make sure that it is really about you.

Life is good.Effective Leadership skills DVD


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My newest book, MOJO, is a New York Times (advice), Wall Street Journal (business), USAToday (money) and Publisher's Weekly (non-fiction) best seller. It is now available online and at major bookstores.

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The American Management Association named Dr. Marshall Goldsmith as one of 50 great thinkers and leaders who have influenced the field of management over the past 80 years. Dr. Goldsmith is one of a select few advisors who have been asked to work with over 100 major CEOs and their management teams. He is co-founder of Marshall Goldsmith Partners, a network of top-level executive coaches. He served as a member of the Board of the Peter Drucker Foundation for ten years.
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith's 24 books include What Got You Here Won't Get You There - a New York Times best-seller, Wall Street Journal #1 business book and Harold Longman Award winner for Business Book of the Year. His recent book Succession: Are You Ready?- is the newest edition to the Harvard Business 'Memo to the CEO' series. Marshall's latest book is Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back When You Lose It!
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