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.

2017 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of The Obvious Part 1

I said it last year, and I must say it again, the Business Excellence Forum (BEF) gets better each year.  There were more than 500 business owners, executives, team members and business coaches in attendance in Houston, Texas.  With that many attendees, there was an abundance of formal and informal exchanges of ideas, strategies, success stories and best practices. This year’s forum had an extensive list of keynote speakers whose presentations yielded many Blinding Flashes of the Obvious (BFOs) and new ways of looking at things.  The following are some of the BFOs that struck a chord with me, most of which will enhance the value I bring to my clients.  I am sure that some of these will have a similar effect on you. During the opening session, Brad Sugars, founder and Chairman of ActionCOACH shared the following:
  • We often present the concept of Learn More to Earn More. Brad added Serve More to Earn More.  Serve More to Earn more became one of the major themes of this year’s Forum.
  • To serve more, you must set an expanded vision (more about that later) and then you must grow into it.
  • Brad highlighted the difference between a Leader and a Coordinator. Leadership is all about the Vision.
  • During a discussion of referral strategies, Brad challenged everyone to develop a pre-gifting strategy. For example, give a book relevant to your product or service to ten of your top customers and encourage them to pass the books along to people who would benefit from your offering.
Our first keynote speaker was Keith Cunningham, author of “The Ultimate Blueprint for an Insanely Successful Business” and creator of the CFO Scoreboard.  (keystothevault.com) Mr. Cunningham, while explaining financial reports in very plain, simple language, slips in many gems about business.  Following are some of the most important:
  • For most in business, the universal answer to business problems or issues is growth – most of the time, that is a fallacy. It is often more effective to consolidate your business and address the problems directly before resuming your growth.  After all, your problems may grow bigger as your business grows.
  • “To play the game of business you’ve got to speak the language.” The language is knowing how to read and understand your financial statements and KPIs.
  • You need two things; Language and Scoreboard:
    • Language (Report Card) = Financials
    • Scoreboard (Dashboard) = Optics which leads to strategy
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  • To make more money, get better at business
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  • M+D+A=N – Management -> Decisions -> Activities -> Numbers.  The numbers on your Report Card (Financials) influence your Activities and your activities determine your Report Card.
  • What activities need to change to change your numbers? When you stand on the bathroom scale and are unhappy with the number you see, what are you going to change to eventually see a happier number?
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  • We have too many goals, we need more standards (non-negotiable goals).
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  • Running your business with un-read or improperly formatted financial reports is like playing pin the tail on the donkey.
  • You give what you tolerate – every management failure is caused by a lack of courage.
  • PROFIT is a Theory – Cash is a FACT
  • “It is not about getting big, it’s about getting rich (generating cash).” Too many businesses lately are focused on getting very big.  Many of them are burning cash along the way.
  • The only reason to spend money is to get or keep customers.
All the BFOs above were from before the morning break!  There is much more to come from Keith and other speakers in the next blog post.

2016 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 4

The first speaker of the afternoon on the second day was Chris Cooke of Luv4 Marketing one of the ActionCOACH strategic partners.  Luv4 has enrolled me and many of my colleagues in a social media master class.  In addition, we are able to offer a comprehensive marketing class to our clients via our strategic partnership.  My BFOs from Chris were:
  • Leads generated on the internet will not necessarily be successful if they are directed to a crappy website or landing page.
  • Internet leads will research you online, just like you research companies you are considering doing business with.
  • Your sales process must be revised to reflect the unique methods necessary to maximize your conversion rate of online leads.
Our chairman Brad Sugars wrapped up the afternoon and the BEF with mostly housekeeping announcements and one major BFO:
  • In order to improve your conversion rate, keep an Objection Log. Work answers to your most prominent objections into your sales process and materials BEFORE they arise.
The next two days were devoted to the annual North American Coach conference.  We were introduced to several new strategic alliances.  In addition, there were many speakers addressing best coaching practices and client strategies that worked for our clients.  The following are some of the highlights: In a session about KPIs, one of my colleagues showed a clip from the movie Money Ball Ball (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGf6LNWY9AI) to highlight using KPIs to overcome biases.  He then introduced the concept of subdividing KPIs into Leading, Lagging, People and Productivity KPIs, which was a BFO for me, having only thought of KPIs in general. KPI Examples Slide Balance KPIs Slide By the way, if you are not familiar with Net Promoter Score, I will cover NPS in a upcoming blog, stay tuned. In addition, he also had the audience do the following exercise: KPI Table Exercise Slide You should too. Another colleague of mine ran a great exercise based on the ActionCOACH formula for change:

(D x V) + F > R

Step 1 – write out a challenge you would like to eliminate Step 2 – write out your Vision of when the challenge has been eliminated Step 3 – rate your Vision 1-10 (btw if your vision is not a 10, rework your vision) Step 4 – rate your Dissatisfaction with the current situation 1-10 Step 5 – write the consequence of not eliminating the challenge Step 6 – R – list your top 3 resistances to the changes needed to eliminate the challenge Step 7 – write out the First Step Step 8 – Be x Do = Have – write an I Am related to the Being needed to overcome the challenge. (The I Am statement will influence your unconscious behavior related to your DISC) Step 9 – Four steps to learning – Step 7 moved you from u-i to c-i / what needs to be learned to move to c-c? 4 Steps to Learning Slide Step 10 – question how DISC is effecting behavior (both yours and your team’s) toward solving the challenge

Finally, another colleague presented a process for creating “I’ll be happy when …” and personal purpose statements.

To create your “I’ll be happy when …” statement

Write your top 2 personal goals Write your top 2 professional goals List how you will feel when those goals are achieved

Use your top goals and the above list to Create your “I’ll be happy when …” statement

To create your personal purpose statement

List your 2 most positive and unique skills and abilities For example: Experience and Insight

List how you demonstrate these skills Coaching & Mentoring

What does a perfect world look like to you?  Harmony between having positive impact on many clients and enjoying my 70s with my wife and family

Put all 3 together into 1 statement I use my experience and insight to assist my clients to build very successful businesses that create many great employment positions in their communities.

 I trust you will find some ideas in this BFO series of blogs that will accelerate your success.  My colleagues and I are available to assist you in implementing the concepts presented in these four posts.

2016 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 3

The second day of the Business Excellence Forum was kicked off by Shawn Moon Senior VP of Franklin Covey.  Shawn opened with a rapid fire bit of jokes and funny quotes, one of the best was:

“The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to determine whether or not they are genuine.”

– Abraham Lincoln

After that he played the famous video of classical violinist Josh Bell playing his Stradivarius in the entrance to a Washington, DC subway station. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnOPu0_YWhw) Virtually no one stopped to listen.  Shawn asked how often do we see excellence right in front of us?  How often do we engage it? Other BFOs from Shawn Moon:
  • Interdependence – a draft horse that can pull 1000 pounds alone, two can pull 4000 pounds together / to accomplish more get leverage.
  • “If you want to change your results change your habits, if you want to have massive change, change your paradigm” – Steven Covey.
  • The value of time is the value of life.
  • Clarity is simple, getting to clarity is complex!
Next he spoke about Edward Lorenz’s Butterfly Effect.  He told how:

Norman Borlaug – a Nobel Prize winner, saved more than one billion people by expanding the yield of corn, wheat and rice in arid conditions.  Borlaug was one of the first scientists to join experimental agriculture stations created in Mexico by Henry Wallace, former Secretary of Agriculture and then Vice President of the United States. But …

Henry Wallace – was influenced as a young boy growing up at Iowa State by George Washington Carver, so much so that he developed some of the first hybrid varieties of corn, doubling and tripling per acre yields. But …

George Washington Carver – who became a brilliant biologist was encouraged to study plants, rather than paint them by his art teacher, Etta May Budd.  The question Shawn Moon asked was “how far back can we go?”  And …

“How far will our (your) influence go?”

Next, while on the subject of personal mission statements he flashed this slide   While his presentation was about personal mission statements, it does not take a lot of work to apply this to your business’s mission statement. IMG_7962 cropped Shawn moon wrapped up with the following by Portia NelsonPortia Nelson Poem The balance of the morning of the second day was breakout sessions.  Here are some insightful BFOs from the breakouts:
  • Have a scorecard and KPIs for each box on your organization charts, both current and three or five years forward.
  • Another speaker expanded this by encouraging a look at every role within your organization, determine the biggest issue for each role and develop a KPI to measure the solution.
  • No matter the size of your business, it is essential to have a well documented on boarding or orientation process and checklist.
  • Disney gives six weeks of training to the people who take tickets at the entrances to their parks. How much training do you employ at your business?
  • One of my colleagues, a former senior HR executive with a major national retailer, said that they had two counter-balancing KPIs:
    • Average time to fill open positions
    • Six and twelve month retention of new hires.
More day two BFOs to come, stay tuned.

2016 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 1

I must say, the Business Excellence Forum (BEF) gets better each year.  There were more than 500 business owners, executives, team members and business coaches in attendance.  With that many attendees, there were plenty of formal and informal exchanges of ideas and best practices. 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. Our first speaker was world-class branding expert Sally Hogshead www.howtofascinate.com (yes, that is her real name “With a name like mine, I had to be successful.”) discovered a new way to measure how people perceive your communication, through the Fascination Advantage® system. Sally is the author of two books “How The World Sees YOU” and “Fascinate – How to Make Your Brand Impossible to Resist” Before researching the science of fascination, Sally rose to the top of the advertising profession in her early 20s, writing ads that fascinated millions of consumers. The title of her presentation was “How to FASCINATE: From First Impression to Lasting Value”
  • Over deliver in One area – Stop trying to be all things to all people
  • You do not have to fix anything – you do have to accentuate your most valuable areas
  • Avoid your competitive disadvantages
  • Every time you communicate, you are either adding value, or taking up space!
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  • Sally told of going to an theme park where she saw a ticket booth that sold tickets to two rides.  The orange ticket was for a ride with multiple safety warnings.  There was a long line at the entrance to the orange ride.  The other ticket was green, there were no safety warnings posted about that ride.  Also, the was no line for the green ride.  She went on the orange ride, it was great.  Later, she got curious and went on the green ride.  She found the rides were IDENTICAL.  The business point is the theme park understood their target customer’s value proposition and desire for a little danger.  Do you completely understand what your target customer values?
Our next speaker was serial entrepreneur Troy Hazard, www..troyhazard.com author of several books including “Future Proofing Your Business” and “The Naked Entrepreneur”.  The title of Troy’s presentation was “Purpose, Passion, People & Profits”
  • Always respect the business corrections and cycles
  • There are 4 cycles
    1. Your Revenue
    2. The Economy
    3. Your Industry
    4. The emotional cycle – market sentiment
      • Opportunity occurs where these cycles converge
  • In addition to understanding the value your business brings to your market, you as a business owner, must know what you want your business to do for you
  • Every day Troy asks himself and his team the following two questions:
    1. “What is your greatest success and what can I learn from it?”
    2. “What is your challenge and how can I help you?”
  • The five keys to leadership he learned from being a father (E I E I O)
    1. Engage energetically
    2. Inspire greatness (strive to have tomorrow be better than today)
    3. Evoke conscious thought (give everyone a voice)
    4. Involve everyone (don’t under estimate before you understand)
    5. Organize Yourself first
  • Use your ideal (3 – 5 years from now) organizational chart to challenge your team to become who they need to be to fill the positions above them
This is just my BFOs from about 60% of the first day of BEF.  The best Troy Hazard BFOs are yet to come.  To be continued …

What Can We Learn About Business from Wimbledon?

It took 200 IBM statisticians to produce the statistics for Wimbledon and the BBC that we all consumed during this couple of weeks of tennis. So why are we consumed by this incredible amount of information that’s available?  What is its purpose and how do we learn from what professional sports have been doing for years and apply it to business? Whether it’s your favorite baseball team winning their division or an individual athlete competing at the highest level, the statistics that follow them around are incredibly detailed.  The statistics tell us fans, the teams, coaches, managers, and the athletes themselves how fast, far, accurate, efficient, successful (or not) they or their strategies are.  We find out their strengths, weaknesses, what to exploit, what to focus on and ultimately how they perform against their competitors.  Statistics influence decisions such:
  • do we bring in a left-handed relief pitcher to face Slugger, the home run machine or stick with the starter with his current pitch count of 84?
  • shall I work with my coach on hitting more fairways or improving my approach shots?
Imagine for a second sport without a winner, no score, no position, no medal, no title.  How many of us would watch or participate?  Yet in business we often have no idea how we or our team is performing, or how we compare in the market or a sector. In business, stats can tell us if we are profitable, if we are converting, what our customer service is like, how our sales team is performing, what products are selling and not, how efficient we are, what makes us profit and looses us profit.  There is so much we can learn from sports fanatical approach to statistics.  The information is available, it’s just hidden away in your business and needs someone to ask the right questions and use the right technology to allow you and your team to perform at your optimum, working smarter, not harder. Now imagine you could sit in your office with all the information available for your business with a dashboard of your Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) just like IBM did for Wimbledon, knowing what works and what doesn’t, rather than using only gut feel.  Would your odds of success and your speed to success improve?  You bet they would. At ActionCOACH we focus our clients on the KPI’s that drive their businesses.  They use dashboard technology and tracking tools that helps them make much better strategic, structural and operational decisions.  So if you want to feel like the BBC or IBM but only have SME resources, and you want to out race your competitors, get in touch and see what your stats say about your business.

What Can We Learn About Business From Luke Donald?

While catching up on my non-business reading the other day, I read an article in the May 2012 edition of Golf Digest by Jaime Diaz about Luke Donald (Golf Digest Article).  The article triggered a few ideas about business that will assist you in achieving greater success as a businessperson:
  1. If You Want To Manage It, You’ve Got To Measure It (An oldie but a goodie) – Shot-Link has provided professional golfers many additional pieces of data they can use to improve their game.  Luke Donald, not the longest hitter in the game, looked at the stats, selected several to focus upon, and took action to build on his strengths.  Result? Luke attained number 1 position on the World Golf Ranking for 40 consecutive weeks.  The lesson, carefully develop and select your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators),  measure them consistently and develop an action plan to improve your results.
  2. Build On Your Strengths – Many times we are tempted to improve those things we are not good at instead of building on our strengths.  In business, we can, and should, improve on our strengths and, without totally ignoring, effectively delegate those things we are not good at, hate to do, or shouldn’t be doing.  Luke did not ignore his driving accuracy while he became “a colossus astride the vital real estate from 100 yards and in.”  Turn defense into offense.
  3. Cover The Fundamentals – In order to achieve consistency Luke Donald went to work on his fundamentals.  Consistency is perhaps the key ingredient in your recipe for long-term success.
Working with an ActionCOACH business coach is mostly about all of the above.  To learn how I, or my colleagues will assist you being ranked number 1 in your field, please contact me.

Global Conference BFO’s – Part 2

Here are some more things you can apply to improve your performance and the success of your business: 1. There are 4 steps to each of your major goals:

a. Decide – commit to the goal b. Breakdown the goal to specific intermediate goals c. Set a plan – step by step what must be done to accomplish the goal d. Take ACTION – If not now, then when? – Have time pressure to all goals

2. Develop Key Performance Indicators for every step of your processes – sales, goals, operations, or anything else you wish to accomplish 3. From Ivan Misner, the day two guest speaker:

a. “You can’t define yourself by your mistakes, only by your successes.” b. When networking up, don’t ask for anything. c. When networking strive for

i. Visibility – People know you. ii. Credibility – People know you are good at what you do. iii. Profitability – Constant referrals from people you know. iv. But NOT Irritability – Pre-mature solicitation.

d. Be aware of the Networking Disconnect – If, at a networking meeting you ask everyone who is there to sell something to raise their hand, you will see virtually everyone raise their hand. If you then ask everyone who is there to buy something to raise their hand, no one will raise their hand. e. The 12 x 12 x 12 Rule – Be aware of:

i. What you look like from 12 feet away? Look the part. ii. What you look like from 12 inches away? Have a positive attitude and stick to positive topics. iii. What are your first 12 words?

f. When networking you should use at least 3 of the following 4 networking streams:

i. Casual Contact Groups – Chambers, non-profit boards, etc. ii. Knowledge Groups – Professional or industry associations, etc. iii. Strong Contact Networks – BNI, groups with a specific business purpose. iv. Online Networks – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

g. However, nothing beats face to face. h. Work / Life Balance is an illusion, seek Work / Life Harmony.

4. Energy in motion = Emotion More to follow.