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When I first began to describe the Dream Manager Program to people, some told me that it would only work with unskilled labor, others said that it would only work with a company's best people, and some people were certain that the corporate world would never subscribe to such an employee enrichment program. I am delighted to say that all of these naysayers were wrong.

Wherever there are people, the concept and principles of the Dream Manager will work powerfully, because people have dreams, and nothing animates people and teams like the pursuit of a dream.

Beyond that, living your dreams is often about facing your fears and rising to the challenge. This becomes abundantly apparent once a team has been in the Dream Manager Program for any period of time.

In the beginning, their dreams tend to fall into two categories:

1. Easily attainable and well within reach

2. Completely unrealistic in any predictable period of time

Both of these are seen as being equally safe because they don't stretch us in any way that makes us accountable to them.

Over time, however, as people achieve some of their dreams, their confidence builds and they begin to acknowledge those interim dreams that build the bridge between the dreams we have already achieved and the dreams that seem completely unattainable at first. With the pursuit and attainment of every dream, however small or seemingly insignificant, people develop skills for identifying, chasing, and accomplishing goals and dreams. In most cases, these skills would not be developed in a corporate setting even over a whole lifetime. Perhaps more importantly, as people accomplish dreams, they develop a hunger for the accomplishment of more dreams.

Help your employees develop goal-setting and strategic-planning skills by chasing their personal dreams, and they will gladly bring these skills to their work because they cannot help but bring them. The hunger to achieve goals and dreams becomes almost insatiable, the desire for continuous improvement becomes a guiding force in their daily lives, and all of this will inevitably overflow into their work, and in the process, will elevate your team and your business.

The concept of management by dreams provides unlimited application possibilities for every organization, and also holds extraordinary possibilities for our personal lives. Here are just a few of the ideas and applications that demonstrate the diversity of the Dream Manager concept.

FINANCIAL PLANNERS

No professional group is better positioned to apply these principles to their work than financial planners. Your clients' dreams provide rare insights into their philosophy about life and money, and, in turn, empower you to manage their money most effectively for the fulfillment of their dreams. Knowledge of their dreams also enables you to challenge clients to save and invest with more discipline.

The reality is, most dreams have a financial component. Whether someone dreams of buying a new car, retiring early, or spending more time pursuing a passion, a financial plan is necessary if the dream is to be accomplished. The other point to consider here is that most people think that the only thing that lies between where they are today and the fulfillment of their dreams is money. So who better to help you put together a plan for the fulfillment of your dreams (at least those that have a financial component) than your financial advisor?

If you are a financial planner, you may want to think about having your clients put together a Dream List. It will help you get to know your clients, and it will demonstrate that you are interested in helping them build a future. By engaging them in a dialogue about their dreams, you will immediately achieve a customer intimacy that would take years to develop under normal circumstances.

Once a client has put together a Dream List, you can pick some milestone dreams and develop a plan around them. Retirement lifestyle is the obvious one, but there may also be several smaller, nearer-term dreams that need to be planned for if they are going to be accomplished and enjoyed. Regardless of the dreams, it will be significantly easier to get your clients to commit to the discipline of money management if they have a clear vision of the dreams they are working toward.

There is only one good reason to amass money and that is for the fulfillment of a dream. Peter Thornhill, the Australian investment strategist, in his book Motivated Money, reminds his readers that “Making money without having a dream to fulfill is pointless and obscene.” Most Americans today spend more money each year than they earn, descending further and further into debt. Collectively, Americans save less than one penny for every dollar they earn. Why do people save so little? The answer, I believe, is because they don't know what their dreams are — and without a clear vision of their dreams, they simply fail to see the point of saving.

The principles and tools of the Dream Manager concept hold the power to completely revolutionize the financial planning industry; let it begin with your business.

EDUCATION

Teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, mentors, and, of course, parents, are all Dream Managers, to varying extents. Their role in the lives of young people is to help them discover their unique abilities, identify their hopes and dreams, and encourage them to pursue these dreams in a way that makes a contribution to society and humanity.

We seem to be in a great hurry to rush young people into one career or another, without having taken the time to help them determine what they are best suited to. We seem too eager to clutter their minds with all types of facts and figures, instead of instilling in them a real sense of self. The result is the very discontentment that leads to disengagement in the workplace and in life.

Imagine how your life may have been different if someone had taken the time, when you were young, to help you understand the twelve areas: physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, psychological, material, professional, financial, creative, adventure, legacy, and character. Imagine if someone had walked you through specific exercises in each of these areas, helping you to discover your strengths and weaknesses; your interests and passions; and the people, places, and things that energize you. Imagine.

How might your life have been different if you had had a Dream Manager in high school or college?

By helping young people discover these things about themselves, we will produce a new breed of worker for the future — a workforce that is super-engaged, highly effective, immensely responsible, self-aware, intuitive, and motivated. Wouldn't you like a handful of employees like this at your company?

Every young person should have a Dream Manager.

FAST FOOD

Flipping burgers has been the center of cultural jokes for decades now, and few industries have a more actively disengaged workforce than the fast-food industry. Turnover in this industry can make or break a franchise.

Can the Dream Manager work with the employees of fast-food chains? Is it even possible to engage these employees?

When my brother Bernard graduated from high school, his grades were not that great. About a week before his last exam, he asked me what I thought he should do. I suggested that he might want to think about working for McDonald's. I knew a couple of guys who had gone through their management program and I had been impressed with the training they had received. I also knew that while Bernard wasn't an academic genius, he was intuitive, had a remarkable gift with people, and could memorize certain things in a way that was uncanny. All this led me to believe that he would thrive in an environment that revolved around people but was run with systems.

Bernard went through his management program faster than anyone in history, became the youngest store manager in Australia's corporate stores, took a store that was losing more than half a million dollars annually and turned a profit of $200,000 in less than a year, became the youngest manager of the largest store in Sydney, and built a personal stock portfolio valued at more than $100,000 before the age of twenty-four.

Today, he works for McDonald's as a consultant to a cluster of their downtown city stores in Sydney.

He is twenty-seven years old, and you have never seen anybody more passionate about McDonald's. He can tell you everything there is to know about the history of the organization and he understands the business model completely. Bernard demands more of himself and more of his staff than most, and he rarely disappoints or is disappointed.

What is the difference between Bernard and the thousands of men and women managing fast-food stores around the world, beating their heads against a wall trying to engage their minimum-wage employees? Bernard takes a keen interest in his people. He doesn't have time to sit around and talk all day, but he will take a few moments here and there to get to know the people on his team, particularly their dreams. He isn't foolish enough to believe that his employees will be there forever, so he talks to them about their lives, their futures. From time to time, he photocopies a page or two from a book that he thinks will be helpful to them. He encourages people, he challenges people, and they respond because his sincerity is palpable and many of them have never had someone take such an interest in them.

Every time “corporate” sent him to a new store, it was a store that needed turning around. They sent him because they knew he would get the job done. Bernard would arrive at the store with goals and a plan. He would announce his goals to everybody on the team, from the assistant store managers to the crew members mopping the floors. He constantly reminded his team of these goals and he united them in a common purpose.

“Whatever you're doing, you'll feel better about yourself and life if you do it well,” I overheard him saying to some of his team members one day. It was one of his mantras.

I always smile to myself when I hear people making fun of people who work at McDonald's because I've seen the world and met an awful lot of people, but I don't know many who have tasted the passion Bernard has for his work or the satisfaction he gets from working hard and being successful.

His approach creates a collaborative team, a dynamic environment, and extraordinary results, and minimizes turnover.

The only thing costing the fast-food industry more than the people who leave (turnover) is some of the employees who stay (the actively disengaged). Show your employees how flipping burgers can help them achieve a dream and you will engage them in a way many have long believed to be impossible in this industry.

Financial planning, education, fast food — these are just a handful of the industries and arenas that could benefit massively from the Dream Manager concept. I would love to write whole books about how these ideas could translate into health care, banking, and a dozen other industries. There is no end to the possibilities that exist for the Dream Manager. From industry to industry, from one company to the next, the practical applications are immense.

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