10 Year Plans

10 years!?  How did that happen? 

This weekend is a big weekend.  My wife and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary.  This weekend also represents 10 years since I left active duty and joined the Army Reserves. Like all big milestones, this one has me reflecting…a lot.

That’s 120 months, 520 weeks, 3640 days…you get the picture. It’s a lot of time passed!

What has happened in the last 10 years?  Kids, Houses, Careers, Wins, Losses…a whole lotta life.

I remember when I was applying to West Point – the plethora of essays and interviews I went through where someone inevitably asked: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”  Wow, 10 years!?  At the time, I was 17…10 years was more than half of my life. Where would I be?  I had no idea.  Now, looking back, 10 years went by in a flash. 

Where were you 10 years ago?  Where will you be 10 years from now?

I will tell you where we want to be.  10 years from now, we will be the go-to Project Development firm for both Private and Public Sector clients to call on for their most complex projects and programs.  Why?  Because we have a moral obligation to inspire people and places.

At MCFA we are in the business of acceleration and helping our clients break through institutional inertia.  We aren’t in the Strategy and Planning business to talk about what could be…we are here to help you advance your organization.  At MCFA, we are about World Changing Ideas AND the Expertise to Execute.  If you find yourself stuck in binders full of bureaucracy, our Discovery Session might be for you.  We have had clients take the leap to find their contracting or credit card holder, book us for a 1 day or 1 week deep dive, exhale all of their vision and us give them a road map to the future.  The best leaders just need a little outside support to get them organized, so they can collaborate with their staff to take the organization into the future.  We are Project Developers, but more than that, we are Organization Accelerators.

At MCFA we are growing (and always recruiting!!!).  You see, as a small business, we don’t have a lot of jobs to fill.  We have a lot of careers to create and clients to serve.  It’s a people business and we are looking for talented, core value aligned professionals who have what it takes to help us deliver projects – better, smarter, faster.  

As you enter this Labor Day Holiday weekend, think about where will you be in 10 years.  To roughly quote Matthew McConaughey – let’s keep chasing the best version of ourselves and our companies 10 years from now.  

BJ Kraemer, President

BD is the Key to Growth

“Management is doing things right, Leadership is doing the right things.” -Peter Drucker

BD is the key to growth.  
No, I’m not talking about Business Development.  I am talking about Better Delegation.    
Yes, delegation.  The art of having someone else do something for you.   
Sounds easy, right?  Maybe.  
I have been dealing with delegation my entire life.  Mostly in organizations where I was either the “doer” or I was the “leader”.  Growing up, I had chores.  What started out as “helping” my Dad blow leaves or mow the lawn became him telling me “mow the lawn”.  I would execute just as I had learned – angled lines and all.  As a freshman on the swim team, I was the doer.  A senior on the team would say “plebes get the lane lines in” and us plebes would jump in the pool and execute a task we had done all of our lives in the sport of swimming.  Eventually, I was the senior, repeating the order and plebes were repeating the task.  Even as a Platoon Leader in Iraq, I was handed a mission set, and with a talented, professionally trained team of 30 Soldiers, we would execute missions – day in and day out.  I would delegate to the Platoon Sergeant and Squad Leaders who would delegate to their team leaders and eventually down to their Soldiers.  But somewhere between mowing lawns, leading combat patrols and today, the “tasks” became a little more complex.  
Maybe it’s because the tasks weren’t tasks.  They are stated as a problem…”a complaint” or “a vision” or a “what if” or a “future risk” or “desired outcome”.  That’s not a task at all, that’s a project.  In the knowledge worker age we are constantly dealing with new problems and projects not repeatable tasks.  And on top of that, as a small business, we are trying to lead, manage, “sell” and do.  It’s a lot and it’s just “easier to do it myself”.  Even if “myself” is over-tasked and over-worked.  
Last week, I recommended the Delegate and Elevate tool.  This week, I am recommending you take a look at this Delegation tool from Michael Hyatt & Co.  
This tool might be the first step in defining a project or a new job description.  Or it might just clear up why your team is underperforming.  
And while Business Development is important, I guarantee Better Delegation is more critical to your growth – as an individual, a leader and an organization.  
Got a hot project to delegate?  We can help.

BJ Kraemer, President

Did We Feed the Dog?

We have a 7-year-old boxer, “Canton” (named after the neighborhood in Baltimore we used to live in, not the football hall of fame…but I digress). Canton is our “firstborn,” if you will, and our first shot at being responsible for another living thing. Feeding, housebreaking, middle of the night wake-ups, getting home in time from work to let her out. I’ve had a variety of management and leadership roles in my life, but Canton was our first 24-hour/day responsibility. We paid for training, weekend “emergency” vet bills, dog walkers, and the list goes on. 7 years later, Canton is going strong but instead of being our new pup and only priority, she is 4th in line behind our three kids. And this fall with work schedules and school schedules, remote learning, and soccer practices, on more than one occasion Natalie and I have looked at each other and said “Did we feed the dog?”  
Don’t judge, you know you’ve been there.  
As chaotic as our family of 5 (plus Canton) can be, our professional lives can sometimes feel equally chaotic, especially when it’s growing.  Adding kids and commitments to our family is just like adding clients and employees to the MCFA family. Excitement & exuberance turns to sleepless nights and chaos, and eventually, we stabilize and grow again (in the Kraemer house we are still taking on commitments but I think we are done with more kids). 
So, how we do make sure Canton gets fed?  We are working on the Delegate & Elevate Tool (at home and in MCFA) from our friend Mark O’Donnell at EOS.  The concept of delegation sounds so easy, right? Wrong!  But more on Delegation next week. For now, fill out this tool…really. Right now. And next week I will talk about where to go next.
Whether CEO or soldier, project manager or proposal writer, as Stephen Covey says, “We accomplish all that we do through delegation – either to time or to other people.” One way or another we have to pay for it through our time or our team. More on this next week.

BJ Kraemer, President

No Fans in the Stands

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch my nephew play football for the first time.  He is 10 and it’s fun to watch him learn a new sport and become part of a team….also a great way to entertain my kids on a Saturday afternoon. I loved watching him, but what I enjoyed more was observing the coach. 

He was wearing a Navy hat so he got my attention early.  But as the team of 10-year-old, 105 pounders went from watching the 9-year-old, 90 pounders who were playing before them, I heard the coach sound off:  “OK men, single-file line. Are you ready to play?” They all responded with a resounding, “Yes, Sir!”.  Ahhh, discipline!  I love it. I turned to my brother in law and asked about the coach with the Navy hat. “Yeah, he’s been coaching this group for 27 years!”

27 years!?!  Assuming these kids play a 10 week season, that is 270 Saturdays this coach has poured into young boys, teaching them the sport and more importantly the discipline, teamwork, work ethic, and all of the other positive attributes we learn through sport. Talk about love of the game!

Last week was National Coaches Day.  Anyone who knows me knows my love of youth sports and the power of the coaching platform. So, I want to take you back to a day and age before ESPN and social media.  Back when we were more focused on we and not so much on me.  Back when John Wooden was focused on building men, not basketball players.  I think his “9 Promises That Can Bring Happiness” are as applicable today (maybe more so) as they were back then.

  1. Promise yourself that you will talk health, happiness, and prosperity as often as possible.
  2. Promise yourself to make all your friends know there is something in them that is special and that you value.
  3. Promise to think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best in yourself and others.
  4. Promise to be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  5. Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  6. Promise to forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements in the future.
  7. Promise to wear a cheerful appearance at all times and give every person you meet a smile.
  8. Promise to give so much time to improving yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  9. Promise to be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit trouble to press on you. 

We all have a role in our lives as “coach” – whatever game you are in parenting or business, education or engineering, politics, or public service.  

Remember, there is a youth watching all of us. They are our future, let’s be Bridge Builders for them.

Oh, and about that coach with the Navy hat?  Go Army!

BJ Kraemer, President