Putting It Together

Putting it all together… of all the exercises in the Hedgehog experience, this is the one that takes the most creativity.  Now is the time to enlist the help of three people who love you unconditionally.  These people must not be afraid of any change or shift in your working identity. They must be supportive to you, no matter what.

You can assemble this group in a final meeting or have separate meetings with each one.  Here’s how to proceed:

Step One:  Understand the mechanics of using a Venn Diagram or, some may refer to it as a “bubble map.”  Share that information with your group as you meet.

– The principle of these diagrams is that classes or sets be represented by regions in such relation to one another that all the possible logical relations of these classes can be indicated in the same diagram. That is, the diagram initially leaves room for any possible relation of the classes, and the actual or given relation, can then be specified by indicating that some particular region is null or is not null.

Step Two:  Now that you know that the intersecting regions represent areas of relationship, compare what information from your strengths circle combines with a parallel thought from your passion circle. Record those answers in the area shared by both circles. Do the same for the other two intersecting areas and leave the triangular center area free at this time.

Step Three:  Once you have the relationships recorded, look to see where these three areas can converge down into a specific line of work.  Those specific lines of work are now recorded in the center area.  When I say “specific lines of work” please be aware that I’m not talking necessarily about traditional careers.  I am talking about new working identities that could prove profitable.

Here are specific ideas that have shown up in the past month with the four clients I’ve most recently taken through this exercise:

  • Trainer
  • Coach
  • Consultant
  • New Age Minister for Peace
  • Speaker
  • Diplomat
  • Film maker
  • Athlete
  • Business owner
  • Broker – of information
  • Innovation Wizard
  • Healer

From this new list you have generated, fodder for your future. The boldest step yet is to craft an experiment:  carve out one simple experience where you can try-on a new working identity and see how it feels. See what you can give and what value is repaid to you. The course you will be charting from here on out is experimental.  Use these iterative experiences where you earn and you learn what you can do with the strength, passion and earning capacity that lives innately within you.

If you need further questions answered concerning the Hedgehog experience, you might want to check out The Entrepreneur Starter Kit.

 Return To The Introduction Of This Series: You Have Hedgehogs 

Economic Engine

It’s time to show yourself the Hedgehog money! Look at the convergence of your strengths and your passion.  Now, the one remaining leavening factor…we must learn where you can make money with what you have.

Take the steps needed to formulate your success:

Step 1: Invest time (I suggest about a week) observing where money is flowing. Take note of where people are spending money and where other people are making money. These observations will open you up to “seeing” what is out there already in terms of financial exchange.

Step 2: Notice where you make money easily now. Ask yourself, “Where are people willing to hand over cash for what I can/do offer?”

Step 3: Pull out a spreadsheet and a calculator and go to work comparing the costs and projected profits from each of the ideas.

Step 4: Be ready with all the information you’ve gathered in Part 3, Discovering Your Deep Passion and Part 4, Economic Engine, so we can put it all together in the next installation of this series.

Coming Next: Part 5 Putting It Together
Return To The Previous Post: Discovering Your Deep Passion

Discovering Your Deep Passion

Knowing what you can be that is “world best” is important.  However, you may not always want to do what you can do well.  A person who is deeply caring and compassionate may not want to work as an emergency room Head nurse.  Maybe this person wants to run a pre-school.

This is part three of a five part series on the entrepreneur’s hedgehog.  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Greatby Jim Collins.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, we have extended his concept to small business owners over a number of years.

Building on this five-part series, let’s tackle the portion of the hedgehog concept known as “What You are Deeply Passionate About?

When I’m taking clients through this exercise, this is the point where they create a “passion” list.

You want them to compile the longest and most honest list. The secret to success here is to be sure you write down things you love to do and that you do not down-shift to recording things that you like to do.

Here are a few distinctions which will help you better understand the type of things to add to your list:

  • When you are doing these things, time flies because you are fully engaged;
  • You might be worn down or tired from your efforts, yet you’d get up and do it again tomorrow if given that chance;
  • You are on fire;
  • Your life seems enriched by it;
  • You feed a hunger that afterwards is deeply satisfied;
  • You include things as personal, like watching a sunset; and
  • You are as professional as outlining the instructional design for a lesson plan.

Feel free to fill part of your list with examples from any special occasions.  They will encourage you to revisit this list and may also help you to envision your passions.

See if you can grow your list to 50 entries, or if you are an achiever by nature, try for 100 entries on your list.

When the list is finished, ask a handful of your friends to tell you what they think you are most passionate about. Add their ideas to yours. Store the list somewhere safe. Get ready for the next step.

Coming Next: Part 4 Economic Engine
Return To The Previous Post: Finding Your Best In The World

Finding Your Best in the World

The hedgehog concept is the ONE thing that can make the difference between loving what you do while making money, and all of the alternatives.  Not that those alternatives are necessarily horrible.  It’s just all ‘round better to be at the core of your hedgehog.

This is the second of a five-part series on the Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog–how can you, as an entrepreneur, discover what you can be the best in the world at?  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Great, by Jim Collins.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, we have extended his concept to small business owners over a number of years.  The hedgehog is the intersection of three aspects of your life:

  • What you can be the best in the world at;
  • What you are deeply passionate about; and
  • What drives your economic engine.

You would think that you would know what you can be “best in the world” at, don’t you?  That is seldom the case without some work.  Imagine trying to look at the back of your neck.  Even if you can get it centered in a mirror, it’s backwards!  Additionally, your “best” may seem so natural to you that you don’t even recognize it as a strength.  Do you have one of those “walking encyclopedia” friends who shrugs his shoulders when you ask him how he always knows the direction for “North?”  Maybe you know one of those people who can add four digit numbers in their head or who always knows the “right” question to continue a conversation.  Those are people with a genetically-coded ability and they often don’t realize that others don’t have it.

As I’ve worked with clients to discover their “can be best” strengths, we’ve often used a combination of three approaches.  When the three all point towards the same strengths, you know you’ve got it right.

First, conduct a brief survey.  I’ve worked with several clients to contact friends, mentors, business associates, and customers as part of their discovery process.  I ask them to pick ten people who will be honest and answer three questions:

  1. What do you see are some of my greatest strengths? Can you relate a specific example?
  2. What is the greatest contribution I have made to you personally? Again, can you relate a specific example?
  3. What is, in your opinion, my single, most greatest strength if you had to narrow it down to one? Can you give an example that would illustrate your point?

The results from the survey can fill pages, so I’ve worked with some clients on a way to squeeze out the data.  They go to http://www.wordle.net/ and create a word cloud.  The results are often visually clear.  This is a word cloud generated for LynChristian.com

Second, look inside yourself.  Start by thinking about what you do naturally that others admire.  You are probably on the right track.  If you want an outside stimulus for this phase, you can turn to almost everything that Marcus Buckingham and the Gallup Management team has produced that contains the Strength Finder instrument in it.  The most recent publication is Strength Finder 2.0.  Are you a lifelong learner?  Maximizer?  Strategist? WOO?  Read the book, take the survey, and add the answers to what you find out from others.

Third, ask your customers.  The Entrepreneur’s Toolkit, Chapter 4, has a section on getting customer feedback as part of your marketing.  It works for this as well.  Often I will send a simple request at the end of a coaching contract that asks my client to “spend a few minutes thinking about the value our coaching brought to you.  I am asking you because I believe that you will be candid and objective.”  Your customers will tell you what you bring to the table, and that gets added to your other answers about what you can be best in the world at.

You can take the results from these three approaches and triangulate the results.  You will find what you can be the best in the world at.

Next: Part 3 Discovering Your Deep Passion
Return to the Previous Post: The Entrepreneurs Hedgehog 


The Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog

The hedgehog concept, articulated by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, is often the crux of successful business building for an entrepreneur.  As a coach, I’ve worked with several clients to help them articulate their hedgehog as a cornerstone of a new business.  While it’s a great activity to do with a coach, an energetic entrepreneur can work on discovering and implementing their hedgehog with the help of some accountability partners.

This is the first part of a five part series on the entrepreneur’s hedgehog.  For an initial understanding of the Hedgehog concept, we wholeheartedly recommend that you read Chapter Five of Good to Great.  For audio learners, Jim Collins provides several videos and audios on his website.  While we rely on Jim Collins for the initial idea, the extensions of his concept to small business owners has developed over a number of years.  This part will focus on the hedgehog concept as a whole and three decisive benefits that come with the activity.

For Jim Collins, the hedgehog concept “requires a deep understanding of three intersecting circles translated into a simple, crystalline concept (the Hedgehog concept).”  The three circles make a traditional Venn diagram.

Jim Collins Hedgehog Concept 300x280 The Entrepreneur’s Hedgehog

On its face, the concept is easily graspable.  Find out what you are passionate about, can be the best at, and make money.  The next three pieces in this series will explore the three circles.  For right now, we want to explore three reasons why you want to find your hedgehog.

First, your hedgehog is your one thing.  Just imagine—no matter what else goes on in your world, you have this thing that you can do in a world class manner, you love doing it, and it makes you money.  Circle it, star it, underline it, and tape it to your refrigerator.  There is absolutely nothing else than can do all three things.

Second, your hedgehog is the core of your marketing.  We will talk more about this in part 4 on making money with your hedgehog. Think of your hedgehog as being your brand—the core that creates evangelists.  It becomes an almost no-fail path to sales and marketing.

Third, your hedgehog lasts as long as you do.  It’s who you are.  It’s built into your DNA as what you can do as best in the world.  You can do other things, but few of them will feel as natural and as comfortable as being a hedgehog.

Next:  Part 2 Finding Your Best in the World
Return to the Previous Post: You Have Hedgehogs

You Have Hedgehogs

When I use the term “hedgehog”, I am referring to something beyond the frumpy little pin-cushion like critter.  I’m talking about each person’s latent working identities.  I’m talking about those places where your passion, your strength, your ideas meet in powerful synergy with a market need or a market want.

 Years ago I wrote several blog spots with a coaching colleague on this topic. Over the next few weeks we’ll be reposting the articles which outline the process I generally use when supporting a reinvention client.  I hope they are useful for those of you who are switching out the way you work and the way you live.

Please let me know if you have further questions on the process or the programs we currently run on the topic at SoulSalt Inc.

Coming Next:  Part 1 Entrepreneurs Hedgehog


Matt Is Nimble Matt Is Quick

Say the name Matthew Landis at a party or gathering place in Salt Lake City and heads will turn.  Two salons bear his name, thousands of Aveda advocates have been trained by him, local TV spots feature him, several businesses in the area have been branded by him and the list goes on.

Personally, Matthew is a delight to know and a rock star to coach. Within the first twenty minutes of meeting him I had a hunch that his career transition (hedgehog process) would move quickly. “Quickly” has become an understatement.

Never in my 13 years of coaching has anyone been so prepared to blow out of their outgrown perspectives and a “past work life” in order to dive into deep professional transition.

Primed for this next chapter, Matthew had determined two years ago to create a more sustainable life for himself. He sold his home. When we started working togetehr he stepped away from a draining commute and a job that was no longer exceptional.

Today we are leveraging Matthew’s name-brand recognition within the salon industry by contracting out his training and coaching abilities. We’re honing in on his value in the TV spots by clarifying his sexy new brand. And his intense intelligence and broad experience is partnering up other entrepreneurial minds to create business offerings and models in the beauty scene that have not existed before. Already, in five months Matthew’s coaching is propelling this bundle of creativity, love and learning to his next level.

I could go on, and on about Matthew. However, it might prove interesting for you to hear directly from him where he’s been compared to where we are now in his transition:

I have worked and trained in salons from Salt Lake, New York, Atlanta, and to Miami.  I have opened several spas and salons, and helped many friends with their small businesses.  I know how to attract good, talented people, and what it takes to keep them happy and provide them with incentives and opportunity to take ownership of their lives and their careers.  My real gift, however, is helping people to reach success and find that inner strength to guide them where they want to go.

Lyn was right – I was ready to jump.  I knew that I wanted something different from my career and my life but I needed someone to bounce my ideas and thoughts off of.  It’s clear to me now that I have been in this a major life transition for several years now. Lyn and the coaching process have been a tremendous help in facilitating and finding that greater sense of self and purpose that was inside me the whole time.  I was so used to creating change in my life by jumping off cliffs, sometimes to good effect and sometimes not.  This process has been experimental and methodical at the same time.  My biggest challenge now is that I get so excited I wanna change the world in one fell-swoop, but I’m learning to sit on my hands and breathe first.  I firmly believe everyone needs a coach of some kind.  I’m so, so, so glad I found mine.

As you follow Matthew’s story on this blog just know this: If we make too big of a transition too quickly, we risk leaving a chunk of financial gain and personal satisfaction on the table.

Our challenge in this engagement will be to keep an eye on the speedometer, and navigate the tight turns and twists along the road. Watch out world, Matthew Landis has just left the starting gate.


Coaching Westminster

On July 26, 2010 the Chronicles of Higher Education recognized Westminster College as one of the best colleges in the nation to work for. This was the second consecutive year in which Westminster had been so honored. The link to the related press release is found at:


I received a call that same year from the college’s Advancement and Alumni Relations department. They wanted to become a stronger team and fortunately they reached out in my direction for coaching support. Future postings will document our work together noting both the high points and the low spots. For now let us set the stage by posting the departments “take” on what brought us together.

Lyn Christian and SoulSalt became involved in our college’s Advancement and Alumni Relations department in summer 2010, two years after we began implementing a Good to Great team building model. Throughout this blog, “team” refers to the entire department, while “group” refers to Hedgehog Committee members (named for the Good to Great term which identifies your group’s core mission as your hedgehog).

Our Hedgehog commitment came about in 2008 as we embarked on a $30 million fundraising effort for a new building. The first year, prior to our annual summer retreat, the department read an excerpt from Good to Great. At the retreat, the first group of “Hedgehogs” was formed of staff volunteers. They met frequently to consider the three circles of the hedgehog concept and define our team’s core values. Hedgehog members strategically left management out of the mix, instead choosing individuals from each area of the department. Honesty was paramount and nothing personal would leave the group without permission. As the group met throughout the year, it became increasingly obvious that communication in the department was a problem and needed to be addressed. As the first year drew to a close, Hedgehog accomplishments included interview guidelines for job applicants and a department mission statement.

In 2009, we focused on difficult conversations and improving intrapersonal communication. To kick off this effort, the entire department team read Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes Are High prior to our annual summer retreat. At the retreat, the team decided to stop the practice of blind copying management on emails and formed a new Hedgehog group with members from each department. Some first-year members attended the first few meetings. The goal was to create a place where frank discussions could be held regarding problems in communicating with each other. Members felt that the first few meetings went well, but soon took on a negative feel, with some expressing unhappiness at the group’s progress. Others felt frustrated, saying that many issues were overstated. In the end, the group recognized that there were deeply rooted communication problems that needed to be solved before we could move forward as a team. The group decided to ask our vice president if we could bring in a consultant to help with communication issues. He agreed, and we engaged Lyn Christian and her company, SoulSalt.

Before our staff retreat in summer 2010, we all took the DISC assessment, a quadrant behavioral model, under the auspices of SoulSalt. Lyn came for part of the retreat to discuss our results. We were all very impressed with her and asked management if she could continue coaching us. It was decided that Lyn would coach a new group of Hedgehogs who would then coach other staff members. The focus for this group would be better communications. Since last summer, Lyn and the Hedgehog group have successfully implemented a coaching program and completed a survey. Results have given insight into the team’s views about trust, mutual respect, and individual strengths and weaknesses.