It (Almost) Never Fails

While flossing my teeth this morning I recalled my late mother’s expression “It never fails.”  I decided to write this blog about my top three list of things that never fail, well almost never fail. Of course, top of mind and number one on the list:
  1. The last piece of dental floss in the container is too short to be useable – Unless you are a dental floss savant, this “never fails” is based on pure luck.
The second “never fails” applies to most amateur golfers:
  1. A golf ball that strikes a tree on either side of a fairway will (almost) always bounce away from that fairway – While this “never fails” has an element of luck associated with it, a golfer could improve their odds by being coached and taking lessons with a PGA professional. As their ability to hit a golf ball where they aim increases, they will reduce the number of trees hit.  By the way, a great golf KPI is number of fairways hit.
Number three on the list of “never fails” is about, unfortunately, most business owners and their businesses:
  1. A business owner without written plans will fail to reach their business and personal goals – My colleagues at ActionCOACH and I have witnessed too many businesses that have grown organically, without plans. Before I joined ActionCOACH I had several turn-around engagements.  Every company I worked to rescue exhibited a lack of planning.  The effect of lack of planning was a major reason they arrived in a turn-around situation.
Our ActionCOACH clients benefit from our planning culture.  All my clients have some, if not all of the following plans:
  • 90 Day working on the business plans
  • Classical business plans with budgets, cashflow, revenue and expense projections
  • 1, 3 and 5-year Organization Charts
  • Hiring plans with trigger benchmarks
  • Marketing plans
  • And others
As the expression goes; “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” The benefits of planning are numerous:
  • Plans, especially written plans, have a very high correlation with success.
  • Plans are essential if you have a team. They communicate your goals and engage your team toward goal achievement.  Simply put, plans help you, and your entire team get leverage of skills, knowledge and time.
  • Plans inoculate your business against failure. While there are no guarantees, planning certainly stacks the desk in your favor.
  • The process of producing and maintaining your plans is just as important as the actual plans. It is a major part of your responsibility as a business owner to create a success environment for you and your team.
  • And many more.
If your business is not about to require a rescue, it is not too late to become a proactive, planning high-achieving business owner with an exceptional business.  The choice is up to you, don’t plan to fail! Should you choose not to plan to fail, my colleagues and I at ActionCOACH will be happy to assist you on your path to business success.  Simply contact me or your local ActionCOACH. Finally, please let me know what some of your top “never fails” are in your comments to this blog.

2018 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 3

The second day of BEF began with Darren Hardy, former publisher of Success magazine, and founder of Darren Hardy, LLC Success Mentor to CEOs & High-Achievers.  His presentation was entitled Productivity Secrets of SUPERACHEIVERS and was based on what he learned during his many interviews with some of the most successful people in the world. The following are a few of the many BFOs I got from Mr. Hardy’s presentation: img_1637-for-blog
  • YES is easy. NO is the master skill
  • 3 Activities – consider:
    • What should I have said NO to last week?
    • What should I say NO to next week?
    • What should I say NO to on my Idea, Project, Commitment & Communication Lists?
  • “To many choices create paralysis”
  • Warren Buffet’s Method
    • Step 1 – WRITE all your priorities
    • Step 2 Narrow the list down to your TOP 3
    • Throw the rest of the list away
  • Don’t mistake:
    • Movement for Achievement
    • Activity for Productivity
    • Rushing for Results
img_1669-for-blog
  • Create a “Give Up” list
  • Identify your Vital Few Functions
    • Delete / Delegate
    • Find & Focus on and leverage VITAL FUNCTIONS
  • “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” – Peter Drucker
  • To be a SUPERACHIEVER
    • Stop doing
    • Master the Vital FEW
    • Out FOCUS
    • Out LAST (consistency)
    • Out GROW
    • Out FAIL – learn from mistakes
    Our next speaker was Travis Bell, The Bucket List Guy.  Travis was a speaker at the 2017 BEF (see 2017 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 4 for my BFOs from 2017).  Travis repeated a presentation he delivered to the ActionCOACH coaches only.  This year he presented to the entire audience.  There is a few additional BFOs added to last year’s Travis Bell BFOs:  
  • The ultimate KPI is How Many People Come to Your Funeral
  • Go from Selfish to Selfless
  • Separate bucket list from to do list
Our next presenter was Steve Rogers, CEO of Alchemy Advisors.  Before founding Alchemy Advisors, Mr. Rogers was the President of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services.  Here are a few of the many BFOs from Mr. Rogers:
  • There is no perfect
  • The constant question – What will have occurred in the next 12 months to consider it a very successful year?
  • And
img_1744-for-blog Brad Sugars took the stage to wrap up day 2:
  • All of my clients have a Future Organization Chart (3 to 5 years in the future) These need to add a Timeline & Triggers to each new position on the chart
  • “Saving a wage cost me a fortune” – Brad Sugars
  • Hiring is not the same as Recruiting
  • Have at least 1 personal goal in your 90 day plan
  • Success:

See Your Goal Understand The Obstacles Create a Positive Mental Picture Clear Your Mind of Self-Doubt Embrace The Challenge Stay On Track Show The World You Can Do It

  Day 3 – A few BFOs from the coach’s session From ActionCOACH Kevin Simpson, a coach in Canada.  A few insights from his clients:
  • His bike shop client reduced the number of bikes on the sales floor, resulting in selling more units at higher prices
  • Conversation around what is possible. In the 19th century during the construction of a railroad, 32 spikers hammered in 63,000 spikes, each averaging 600 blows per hour for 14 hours.  They constructed 6.3 miles of track that day, which at the time was a record.  So the question is – Do we limit ourselves by our perception of what is possible?
  • To eliminate Bottle Necks – Communicate Priorities
  img_1774-for-blogimg_1785-for-blog
    • be in Area 4
    • Area 1 – Intention & Attention / no money – EXCUSE (below point of power)
    • Area 2 – Money & Intention / no attention – BLAME
    • Area 3 – Money & Attention / not aligned – DENIAL
    • Area 4 – Congruency (above the point of power)
  And finally, from a couple of conversations during breaks:
  • A business is finished (Step 6 of 6 Steps to Massive Results) when it achieves the ActionCOACH definition of a successful business
  • Content is GREAT / Context is IT!
  • “Where there is SHIT, there is FERTILIZER
  I hope you have formed your own BFOs from this blog series. The 2019 Business Excellence Forum will be in Charlotte, SC from February 17th to the 19th.  If you wish to join me and about 1,000 other business owners, CEOs, leaders, executives and business coaches, or if you would like to accelerate your success, please contact me or any of my ActionCOACH colleagues.  Our mission is to create

World Abundance Through Business Re-Education

More on Time Management

Reading a John C. Maxwell article in the September 2017 edition of Success about time management, entitled “4 Tips to Set Yourself Up for a Better Tomorrow Today” got me thinking.  On a hunch, I went back and reviewed several other articles, publications and the ActionCOACH TimeRICH seminar on the subject of time management and was able to confirm my conclusion that

Time Management is really Self Management!

This is not exactly a new idea, I’ve said this during numerous presentations.  So why highlight it now in this blog?  It seems to me that many of us brush off the importance of time-self management.  Taking an “I am what I am” attitude rather than seeking to improve our use of our time.  Thus, I am going to reiterate a few of our top self-time management tips:
  • Set personally motivating goals – if your goals are truly important to you, you must strive to connect every activity to them. In the article, Maxwell encourages creating a Priority Inventory, another way of looking at the connection of your goals to your activities.
  • Don’t finish today until you plan tomorrow – Maxwell explains two concepts in his article; be deliberate in your use of time, and hone your decision-making skills. Once you increase your awareness of your goals and their relationship to your activities, you will become more deliberate in your investment of time.  The decision as to what to address and what not to address will become easier, enhancing your self management.  Remember, every time you say “YES” to something, you are saying “NO” to many other activities.
  • Create a Default Diary – a schedule of how you intend to invest your time on “normal” days. Your Default Diary (Ideal Week or Default Calendar, we use these terms interchangeably at ActionCOACH) accomplishes many things; it sets your time expectations, and communicates them.  You will feel uneasy when your activities conflict with your internal clock once it has been set via your Default Diary.  Many of my clients use their Default Calendar as a communication tool with their teams, using the tool to create “deep thinking” time slots.
  • Delegate – Effective delegation is the key to successful time and self management. None of us are expert or skilled in all aspects necessary for the success of our businesses or lives.  We are faced with the choice to do it all, abdicate or delegate numerous times every day.  Should I change the oil in my car myself?  Should I abdicate the oil change by simply dropping off the car at my local service station? Or, should I effectively delegate the oil change by carefully selecting the service station or dealer, asking them about the oil and filter they are going to use, and all the other details related to the oil change?  I used this example to exemplify the fact that we can all delegate to our extended team even if we have no direct employees.  When delegating, John Maxwell makes the point the we should not mistake activity for advancement.  This applies to those we delegate to, as well as ourselves.
John C. Maxwell included the following quote in the article:

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Improve them, and they will become the brightest gems.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Remember, you cannot replenish your time, once a moment is gone, it is gone.  As Steadman Graham said at one of our ActionCOACH conferences,

“Time is the great equalizer.  We all have 24 hours in a day.”

His message continued to say that the very wealthy use their time more effectively.  How are you investing your precious time?  My colleagues and I at ActionCOACH are uniquely qualified to assist you toward effective delegation and successful self and time management.

2017 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of The Obvious Part 4

Paul Dunn continued with his presentation by switching gears to speak about the concept of price anchoring. He presented a case study based upon the fact that most people remember the last thing they see or hear.  The case study involved adding eight words at the end of a price quotation for a product or service img_9693-small img_9696-small Result: 30% conversion rate for price alone, 90% conversion rate with the addition of those 8 words! Paul finished up by returning to his original concept by saying “The shortcut to more is to MATTER more.” img_9713-small img_9714-smallimg_9716-small And a quote by Richard Branson img_9720-small   A very impactful speaker who spoke briefly the afternoon of the first day and then returned to speak to the coach’s conference (day 3) was Trav Bell, the Bucket List Guy (http://www.thebucketlistguy.com/).
  • After saying that a bucket list is about what you learn about yourself during the journey, he had the entire audience participate in two hands-on exercises:
  1. We were given 10 minutes to begin writing our “reverse” bucket list – a list of things, adventures, accomplishments, and people we had already met or achieved that we were proud about. We then shared items from our list with a partner.  This was a great exercise, one which I completed on my return flight to NY.
  2. After presenting his acronym MYBUCKETLIST as a framework for our bucket lists:

Meet a personal hero Your proud achievements Buy that special something Ultimate challenges Conquer a fear Kind acts for others Express yourself Take lessons Leave a legacy Idiotic stuff Satisfy a curiosity Travel adventures

Trav gave us 15 minutes to select a letter, add an item to our list and then act on that item.  Many in the audience signed up for guitar lessons or made pledges to their favorite charity.

Both exercises were empowering and great examples of coaching.  I highly recommend you seek out a partner, or coach to create both bucket lists.

Trav concluded by saying “People are dying at 40, being buried at 80.”  Don’t be one of them.   Another presenter to the coach’s portion of BEF was Traci Diaz of Break Free Consulting.  Traci gave us many ideas, one of which stood out:

The Central Question to ask yourself several times each day is: “What choice can I make, and action can I take, in this moment, to create the greatest value?”

  The BEF was concluded by Brad Sugars.  Brad stretched everyone’s vision by challenging everyone to create their 100-year vision!  He reiterated an Owner’s/CEO’s/ Leader’s responsibility to enroll and inspire their team:
  • Vision – 100 years in the future, if the mission is accomplished
  • Mission – the value your company brings to the world
  • Culture – the rules of the game
He reminded us of the ActionCOACH formula for success Dreams X Goals X Learning X Plans X Actions = Success It is useless to lead a team that is not confident and productive Productivity comes from passion and focus Realize that the better you get at _____ the easier it becomes – tackle the difficult to make it easy. After drawing the following flipchart, Brad added that you MUST be congruent with your identity, or create MORE identity img_9728-small A case study example of expanded identity:

A doctor raised his identity from doctor to entrepreneur who happens to be in the medical business.  Result – went from one office with him as the only provider to nine offices with more than 400 providers.

We coach for break-throughs, not just learning.   After the conference, I observed a great example of communicating a Unique Value Proposition in the parking lot of my hotel: img_9772-small img_9771-small I hope you have formed your own BFOs from this blog series. The 2018 Business Excellence Forum will be in San Diego from February 18th to the 20th.  If you wish to join me and about 700 other business owners, CEOs, leaders, executives and business coaches, or if you would like to accelerate your success, please contact me or any of my ActionCOACH colleagues.  Our mission is to create

World Abundance Through Business Re-Education

Three Mini Blogs

Effective Delegation – Step 1 I’ve been rereading “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey.  In 7 Habits, an important distinction is made between “Gofer Delegation” and “Stewardship Delegation.”  I realized that in my ongoing series of blogs on the subject of Effective Delegation I failed to make clear that the series is focused solely on Stewardship Delegation. Aside from deciding to actually begin delegating and having a plan as to what items to delegate, the first step in delegating any responsibility under Stephen Covey’s and my definition of stewardship delegation is defining and communicating the Desired Result.  Once the desired result is clear and understood by both you (the delegator) and the person you are delegating to (the “delegatee”), they are enabled to take responsibility to deliver that result.  It is up to the delegatee to determine how the methods that will be implemented to deliver the desired result.  This mutual understanding of the target is the foundation upon which leverage and success is built.   A Strong Reference to an Article (and Book) In the January 2016 edition of “Success” magazine there is a wonderful article by Amy Morin entitled “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do excerpted from her book of the same title.  Here are the headlines, please read the article or the book for the details:
  1. Waste time feeling sorry for themselves
  2. Give away their power
  3. Shy away from change
  4. Squander energy on things they can’t control
  5. Worry about pleasing everyone
  6. Fear taking risks
  7. Dwell on the past
  8. Repeat their mistakes
  9. Resent other people’s successes
  10. Give up after their first failure
  11. Fear “alone time”
  12. Feel the world owes them something
  13. Expect immediate results
I’m sure you will benefit from learning more about this important subject.   Headline in a Newspaper The other day I read the following headline “Pressure on Apple for Its Next Big Thing.”  This headline reminded me of one of the key things I learned when I was consulting at a company in the midst of a turn-around attempt.  The simple lesson is that there is never a “Silver Bullet.”  The company I was working with got into deep financial trouble because they keep searching to the one product that would save the business.  In fact they already had an excellent product offering that they could not reliably and consistently deliver.  One by one their retail customer base stopped ordering from them. You may be thinking that their silver bullet was fixing their fulfillment process.  Their inability to fulfill orders was a result of several factors including poor inventory control, poor bookkeeping and a lack of sales analysis, to name just a few.  One of the main messages of the ActionCOACH 5 Way Formula – Business Chassis is that your business can achieve massive results if you cover your bases and grow your business in balance. My colleagues and I will be happy to work with you to implement any of the concepts mentioned in the blog.

Why You Need Written Plans

“Planning without Action is futile, Action without planning is fatal” Unknown

One of the most profound concepts I have embraced since joining the ActionCOACH team is the many positive results of having written plans.  It is commonly believed that those who have written plans outperform their contemporaries by a large margin.  While the often quoted alumni studies at Harvard or Yale are urban myths, one actual study conducted by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, (to you can read her research summary click here) provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three coaching tools:
  • Accountability,
  • Commitment and
  • Writing down one’s goals. This study demonstrates that writing one’s goal enhances goal achievement.
You may fall into the group, along with the vast majority of people, who tried writing a plan on one or two occasions only to conclude that planning does not work.  Perhaps, you bit off more than you could reasonably accomplish, set unrealistic deadlines, did not set deadlines or your plans and goals were not specific enough.  Maybe you believe or concluded that planning is useless because plans are obsolete as soon as they are finished.  Regardless of your reasons for not planning in the past, I urge you to consider planning your business and your life starting now for the following reasons and benefits. First of all, planning is an ongoing process.  The main value of planning is periodically thinking about your business and your life in an organized manner.  When a planning process is followed, several things naturally occur:
  • You attain focus – you weed out the noise that naturally occurs in your life
  • You prioritize – things in a logical order prevent you from over committing (biting off more than you can reasonably accomplish).
  • Your filters open – your conscious and subconscious mind are opened to collect the resources, knowledge and partners you need to achieve your goals
  • You communicate – a plan is a great communication tool to use when you delegate and seek assistance
  • You create a great “rallying point” for your team
As Benjamin Franklin said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  We all have only twenty four hours in a day.  Effective use of time has a direct relationship to a person’s level of success.  It is what separates the successful from the unsuccessful, in all aspects of life.  Having plans will greatly increase the results you achieve from your twenty four hours. Finally, and most importantly, most businesses develop and grow organically, with little or no planning.  Many grow and reach a “point of no return” where, for example, they may be supporting an inefficient or counter-productive structure, the right people in the wrong roles or the wrong people in the right roles, or worst of all the wrong people in the wrong roles.  Their business may not be able to adjust to current market conditions in a timely fashion.  They might have over-expanded, under-expanded, passed on a promising opportunity or pursued a disastrous opportunity.  These situations become disastrous after a business passes the point beyond which it cannot “undo” and restart without more investment of time and capital than is available.  Thus, it is essential to avoid growing organically and hitting the point of no return by adopting a planning process as early as possible and of course sticking to it.  You can either have a reactive business or a proactive business.

2015 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious – Part 1

Last month I attended the 2015 North American Business Excellence Forum (#BEF2015) and Awards.  I am proud that my client, the Winthrop University Hospital Department of Pediatrics won the 2015 Best Not-For-Profit Business Excellence Award for the combination of their STAR Program for children with special needs, their DOWN program for children with Down Syndrome and their Hempstead Pediatrics practice.  In addition, The Cancer Center for Kids, Winthrop Women’s Wellness, and Women’s Contemporary Care Associates – Maternal Fetal Medicine were all finalists in more than one award category. This year’s forum had some amazing keynote speakers whose presentations yielded many Blinding Flashes of the Obvious (BFOs).  The following are some of the BFOs that struck a chord with me.  I am sure that some of these will have a similar affect on you.  If I am correct in that assumption, please join the conversation and add your comments to this post. Our first speaker was Jonathan MacDonald (www.jonathanmacdonald.com @jmacdonald), a well known international speaker on perpetual change & how to think differently about the future of business, society & technology.  Here goes:
  • Beat competitors by solving problems faster and/or better than them – simple and straight to the point
  • Establish a balance between rapid growth and tuning – sometimes growth needs to be briefly slowed down in order to fine tune operations in order to continue to consistently deliver.
  • The concept of Phase Shifting – why some companies always seem to introduce new, very cool, innovative products. To state this as simply as possible, a company’s first product may be a phase or step along their journey toward their true goal.  They continually solve the increasing difficulties while adding more value with each step.  Think how the USA was able to land a man on the moon. Or, is the Apple watch the end game or a phase?
Phase Shifting Slide
  • The ideal members of your team are those who have the will to succeed – you can train everything except will.
Our next speaker was Brad Sugars – Founder and Chairman of ActionCOACH.  Brad spoke about the 9 Potholes On The Road To Success:
  • Pothole #1 – Superhero Complex
    • Kills more businesses than any other pothole
    • Learn the art and science of DELEGATION
  • Pothole #2 – Scarcity Thinking
    • Move away from Limitations / Lack mindset
    • Move toward how Big is the market or how Big SHOULD my business be to accomplish my mission?
  • Pothole #3 – Doubters
    • They are all around you, learn to filter
  • Pothole #4 – Bad Decisions
    • Learn and move on
    • Always Test & Measure to limit possible damage
  • Pothole #5 – Out of Your Depth
    • Learn to Earn
    • Build a great team and delegate
  • Pothole #6 – FEAR
    • False Expectations Appearing Real – Collect the facts to eliminate the False
    • Failure Expected And Realized – Move beyond your self-fulfilling prophecies
    • Face Everything And Rise
  • Pothole #7 – Short Term Thinking
    • Plan / Execute / Measure / Review / Plan / Etc.
    • Phase Shift
  • Pothole #8 – Overwhelm
    • Break the Overwhelm cycle by taking action – one step at a time
  • Pothole #9 – Self Sabotage
    • Have a good look at yourself in the mirror
To be continued.

It Is Not Too Early To Begin 2015

As the end of 2014 approaches a little introspection is in order. As a business owner, some of your fundamental roles include:
  • coaching
  • planning
  • setting goals
  • interviewing and hiring
  • training
  • creating
  • managing
How are you doing so far this year regarding your time in these areas?  Ask yourself a few questions:
  • have you spent adequate, quality time planning the future of your business?
  • have you spent adequate time coaching and developing your team (or having it done)?
  • are you on target for all of your management and self-improvement goals?
  • have you been able to manage your attitudes consistently regardless of what was happening around you?
  • did you see change as your partner and embrace it…or has it become your adversary?
  • are you leaving any unfinished business behind as you move into the second half of the year?
  • have you been communicating your goals, strategies, plans, and objectives clearly to your team?
  • have you handled all of your team member’s challenges successfully, and in a compassionate and timely manner?
  • have you set clear goals for the rest of the year?
  • are you in touch with the realities within your organization and your marketplace?
  • if you could, would you reverse or change any of the significant decisions you made during the first half of the year?
  • if you could begin this year over again, what is one thing you would do differently?
A critical skill necessary for success as an owner is the ability to honestly evaluate your:
  • personal development progress
  • attitudes
  • skills
Work on expanding this list.  Set a target of 50 more questions that will help you get a better handle on your organization and yourself. You might think it is a little early to begin this process, since it’s only the beginning of November…but we all know it’ll be the end of the year before we know it.  How you spend the next several weeks could make or break your goals, your hopes, and the success and direction of your company for the balance of this year and planning for next year. And that’s worth thinking about…

Afraid To Take A Vacation?

This week’s edition of my local business weekly quoted a ADT Small Business Getaway Survey.  The survey about small business owners’ attitudes toward taking vacation found that:
  • 55% Never travel without their cellphone
  • 45% Find it hard to “check out” while away
  • 25% Feel nervous about the business while away
  • 21% Feel guilty about leaving their business unsupervised
Pretty chilling, to say the least.  Actually, I found these survey results to be quite distressing.  Why?  For several reasons, including:
  • Most of the business owners who responded are not getting the full benefits of business ownership.
  • The results reflect things that are almost completely avoidable by successful business owners.
  • The survey indicates that these business owners are not planning their businesses.
At ActionCOACH we define a successful business as A Commercial Profitable Enterprise That Works Without The Owner.  We coach our clients to invest a significant amount of their time toward working on their business, rather than working in their business.  This includes planning the growth of their business.  Without a business growth plan, a road map for the business, businesses grow organically and quite often go too far down a road that is unproductive, hitting the “Oh S**t” moment.  That is one of the prime reasons that the failure rate for new businesses is as high as it is. In order to increase your odds of success, your growth plan must include:
  • An organizational chart, now (even if your name is in every box), 1 year and 5 years in the future.
  • The complete definition of your Products and/or Services. (see my post of 8/15/2014 http://actioncoachmichaelbreitman.com/?p=182)
  • Your Mission/Vision/Culture statements
  • And many of the elements of a classic business plan, such as marketing plans, budgets, etc.
Granted, all of these items are dynamic.  However, without starting points your ability to build your business, to have the right team, to create economic growth for yourself and community will be limited. Don’t be one who is afraid to take a vacation.  Start working on your business NOW, before it is too late.  If you would like assistance with working on your business or you wish to accelerate your progress toward your business goals, contact me or the ActionCOACH business coach in your area.

There’s nothing so meaningless as …

The other day I was reading an article in the February 2014 edition of Entrepreneur Magazine (yes, I am a few months behind in my reading) that struck a chord with me.  At first I considered writing my own blog post on the same subject, and then I realized that I couldn’t have said it better than John Shook did in the Q&A piece about the lean movement. In his answer to the first question is a fabulous quote that nails the importance of adding value; “There’s nothing so meaningless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”  Of course, the value created must be in concert with the customer’s definition of value. The second answer addresses the value of planning, as does the fourth answer.  Finally, the fifth answer recognizes that planning is an ongoing process. I hope you enjoy this insightful Q&A. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/230850