2018 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 1

For the third year in a row I must say, the Business Excellence Forum (BEF) gets better each year, and the 2018 event was no exception.  This year there were more than 700 business owners, executives, team members and business coaches in attendance in San Diego, California.  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 during a presentation of the 21 Biggest Mistakes in Marketing:
  • Mistake #4 – No Numbers / At ActionCOACH we have the concept of Measure & Test. For example, in creating marketing materials, such as advertisements, we coach our clients to test multiple headlines and measure the level of response, rather than simply using one headline.  After measuring response, our clients can hone in on an effective headline.  Brad suggested that Google or Facebook are perfect venues to test marketing headlines.
  • Mistake #9 – Going for 1 sale vs. 100 / The concept of marketing for multiple sales, rather than going for one sale. This involves targeting out-bound message, while calling for in-bound response.
  • Mistake #12 – Wrong Words/Pictures / Marketing materials must address your target’s values, not your company’s values. I will be blogging and tweeting more of the 21 Biggest Mistakes during the next few weeks.
Our first Keynote speaker was Elizabeth McCormick, an amazing lady.  Ms. McCormick was the first female helicopter pilot in the US Army.  In addition to teaching the entire audience how to fly a helicopter, she laid out many gems, here are a few:
  • “If you believe that something is hard, it will be hard. If you believe something is easy, it will be easy not as hard
  • She demonstrated the “Can you exercise.” She asked a volunteer to the stage.  The volunteer extended their arm out to the side with their thumb down.  Elizabeth then:
    • Pushed down on the volunteer’s arm while the subject was resisting to establish a benchmark of the amount of force needed to overcome the resistance
    • Next, she had the subject say “I can’t” three times. When she pushed the volunteer’s arm down this time she was able to easily overcome the resistance.
    • Finally, she had the subject say “I can” three times. This time she had to apply much more force to overcome the volunteer’s resistance. Just in case we thought she was faking, the entire audience paired off, did the exercise and came up with the same result.
    • The purpose was to move us from our comfort zone to our Potential Zone.
  • “We all have a responsibility to lead from where we are.”
Stay tuned for the next installment of BFOs from the 2018 BEF.

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

2017 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of The Obvious Part 3

Day two was kicked off (no pun intended) by Tim Brown, 1987 Heisman Trophy winner, NFL Hall of Fame member, and very inspirational speaker.  Here are some of my Tim Brown BFOs:
  • Be the coach
    • Be sure of yourself & your approach
    • Emphasize team
    • Look for & guide team members to see their abilities & potential
  • Talent is not enough – you need mental strength to succeed
  • Realize that sometimes a mindset change may be required to move forward
  • img_9612-small
  • Seek mentors …
    • Who can show you something about yourself
    • See what you cannot see within you
    • Say what you need to hear, not what you want to hear
  • Don’t be adverse to using a proven system from elsewhere
  • Little things lead to big results
The next speaker was Richard Maloney, President of Engage and Grow, a strategic partner of ActionCOACH.  In the course of presenting the benefits and outline of the Engage & Grow 12-week program, Rich enlightened us about the current poor state of employee engagement, strategies to raise the level of engagement and the benefits thereof:
  • img_9637-small
across the USA only 24% of employees are highly engaged.  Another way of looking at that is img_9638-small on average two out of every ten of your team are so highly disengaged that they would sabotage your company, or jump ship.  If you think your team would score as more engaged, think again.  A survey of their clients found a 30% gap between senior management’s guess and the team’s actual level of engagement. img_9640-small The Engage & Grow program taps into the science of motivation.
  • A Deloitte survey found that companies with highly engaged teams were eight times more successful over a ten year period than industry peers with lower team engagement.
  • Our job is to change the lives in front of us.
Next up was Paul Dunn, Chairman of B1G1, a global business giving initiative on a mission to create a world full of giving.  Paul’s presentation was in keeping with this year’s BEF theme of Serve More to Earn More. Paul opened with the following quote from Sir Issacs Newton: img_9666-small Using www.internetlivestats.com in order to show that time is increasingly compressed, he displayed some live global stats for that moment: (2/21/2017):
  • 7,519 tweets / sec.
  • 2,472 Skype calls / sec.
  • 58,875 Google searches / sec.
  • 68,234 YouTube video uploads / sec.
  • 2,566,295 email / sec.
  • 42,125 gbytes / sec.
And img_9670-small He quoted Peter Diamandis: img_9674-small He urged us to EARN more to GIVE more, and vis-a-versa: img_9676-small to address these global issues There are two choices we can make: img_9678-small or img_9679-small “The challenge is not to be successful, the challenge is to matter more. – Seth Godin From Simon Sinek’s “Start With WHY” img_9684-small img_9686-small This wraps up part three of my 2017 BEFA BFOs.  There will be more Paul Dunn and Brad Sugars in part four.

Going That Extra Mile

I recently used eBay to sell a file cabinet that I no longer need.  Oh, the benefits of more and more of my business being conducted online.  Because of its size and weight, the file cabinet was listed as local pickup only.  When the auction was completed, the buyer paid immediately and contacted me to arrange a time to pick the cabinet up.  When I met Leo, the buyer, at my storage facility I was surprised to be introduced to a Chinese man in full business attire, three-piece suit, beautiful silk foulard tie, the works.  The buyer was accompanied by another Chinese gentleman, John, who was dressed in business very casual attire, khakis, polo shirt, sneakers, you get the picture. While John maneuvered the van into one of the loading bays, Leo and I took a dolly up to my storage unit to retrieve the file cabinet.  By now you are thinking what does this have to do with business? While in the elevator Leo explained that he was on his lunch break from Bank of America, and John is his client.  John, he told me, is in the process of opening a daycare center and mentioned that he needed a file cabinet.  When he asked Leo for advice on where to purchase a used file cabinet, Leo suggested eBay.  John had never used eBay so Leo went the extra mile, logged into his eBay account, placed the winning bid, completed the transaction, and accompanied John to pick up the cabinet and to translate.  For me, that was a WOW moment, I was quite impressed by Leo’s dedication to his clients. So, here are three business related questions I want you to consider:
  1. When was the last time a banker, especially from one of the giants, demonstrated that level client focused service? Or for that matter, what is the service level of many of the large businesses you regularly business do with?
  2. What is the service level you routinely offer to your customers? Do you WOW them on a regular basis?
  3. What would be the resulting increase to your bottom line if you separated your business from your competitors by raising your level of service to WOW?
As Brad Sugars, the Founder and Chairman of ActionCOACH said at our 2017 Business Excellence Forum last month, “Serve more to Earn more.”  Leo is certainly doing just that.  If you would like to make more by serving more, my colleagues and I at ActionCOACH will be happy to assist you.

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.

Great Advice from Crain’s New York Business Hall of Fame Inductees

While reading the September 14, 2015 edition of Crain’s New York Business” I was energized by some of the advice given by almost all of the 2015 inductees to the Crain’s Hall of Fame.  Following are a few of the best quotes along with commentary relating the quotes to my philosophy of business. First up are a couple of quotes from Larry Fink, the founder of Blackrock, the world’s largest investment firm.  Blackrock has more than $4.7 trillion under management.  He said “I’m a student of the markets.  If you stop being a student, you will fail.”  This takes our often mentioned phrase “you’ve got to learn to earn” to a whole other level by stating the consequence of stopping your learning … failure.  He goes on to say “I tell my leaders – my leaders are going to be teachers – if you’re a teacher who stopped being a student, you can’t be a good teacher.”  I’ve always said the one of the best ways to learn a subject is to teach it. From Shelly Lazarus, former CEO and Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather we get several great pointers.  “You need to have a team that believes in you and people who believe in each other and people who can work together.  Without the people around you, you are never going to be successful.”  This speaks to the idea that true success in bound up with accomplishing a broader impactful mission, a mission that you can’t accomplish alone.  She goes on to say “It surprises me over and over how people don’t realize that you have to treat the people on your team respectfully; you have to let them share in the problem and the solution. You’re only going to be as good as the people who want to work with you.” (Emphasis added)  “Who want to work with you” … that’s the operative phrase.  Not easy, but essential to lasting success. Pamela Brier, current President and CEO of Maimonides Medical Center, said something simple but very, very profound “It takes more than medical care to make healthy people.”  This speaks to the point of my previous blog “What is Your Product or Service?” where I discuss the total definition of a product or service.  Later in her interview she highlights the concept of inclusive management “…includes the notion that people close to the work not only have a stake in making a place work better, they also know a lot.  Tell me that who mops the floor in a patient’s room doesn’t know a lot about what’s going on with that patient and the family.”  Finally, she says “There is nothing inherently politically incorrect about being a tough-minded manager who does what you have to do to give an institution the financial wherewithal to do good work.”  You must continually achieve your mission to have impact.  In order to do that long term, the financial foundation has to be strong. Emily Rafferty, the retired president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art talks about timing and personal being.  “Timing is everything, and if we make a mistake, often it is about not getting the timing right.  When you get it right, it lets us soar.  That’s what makes the difference, I think.  Our timing has to be right within ourselves and within our personal growth before it can work in the workplace or anywhere else.”  A prerequisite to success is preparing for success, BE + DO = HAVE.  Acquire the being of success in order to do what you need to do to achieve success to have success. One of the primary purposes of coaching, whether business coaching or other forms of coaching, is to increasing the clients being.  My colleagues at ActionCOACH and I can work with you to increase your being.

Effective Delegation Part 3 – What You MUST Delegate If You Want Your Business To Grow

As part of my on-going series about the art and science of effective delegation, and in response to questions I have been asked, I have developed the following Top 10 List:   The Top 10 Items You MUST Delegate

10. Activities that will speed up your cash flow – This includes collection calls, invoicing on a timely basis, responding to inbound customer inquiries, processing and shipping orders and making it easy for customers to buy from your business, to mention just a few.

9. Tasks that are already streamlined and documented – This is one of the keys to achieving both leverage and consistency in your business. Without leverage and consistency your business will become increasingly chaotic as it grows, if it grows at all.

8. Tasks that involve government or other outside, often-changing regulations – You simply do not have the resources to keep up with regulations. Make sure to delegate to trained professionals whose job it is to be up to date.  For example, a while ago I was introduced to a customs lawyer.  She told me that her new law practice was booming because U.S. Customs is now part of the Department of Homeland Security.  She mentioned she found many companies that have been importing materials for years, always completing the paperwork the same way that are un-wittingly, no longer in compliance.  Worse yet, the potential penalties are many times larger than before DHS was formed.

7. Anything that you want your team to master – You will never achieve leverage in your business if your team does not master operational tasks. Mastery supports consistency.  Consistency is a prerequisite to growth.

6. Tasks where you are the bottleneck – If everything goes through you, your company can only work at your speed and capacity.

5. Areas that are beyond your skill-set or competence – Simply put, if you are not good at it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

4. Anything that you shouldn’t be doing – If you are tempted to do that low-value task that is not time sensitive, stuffing envelopes, shredding out of date documents, etc., you are keeping yourself from adding the most value you can to your business. Remember, all of us ultimately are compensated for the value we add, not for the time we devote.

3. Tasks that keep you from growing your business – The main responsibility of ownership, whether you actually own a company or simply take ownership of your responsibilities, is to develop and grow your business.

2. Anything you hate to do – If you hate it, you most certainly will not do it well.

1. Anything that requires specialized knowledge – You cannot possibly be an expert about every subject necessary to build a successful business. You can never go wrong delegating to expertise on an as-needed, demand basis.

Bonus – Any subject where you can benefit from someone else’s experience – We are not omnipotent; learn from the mistakes of those who went before you.

One very important word of caution: You must not abdicate any of the above; you must learn and practice effective delegation. Please share your experiences and results from delegation or abdication with my growing community.

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…

A Survey Shows a BIG Disconnect

My local business weekly newspaper published the results of a July 2014 Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of 603 small business owners.  The survey asked the respondents to list the single biggest business challenge they currently face.  In looking at the survey results, I found a couple of concerns that are counter to some core ActionCOACH concepts.  Here are the survey results:

CHALLENGE                                        %

  • Attracting Customers                               13
  • Government Regulations                         11
  • Financial Stability / Cash Flow               11
  • The Economy                                              11
  • Government (general) / Taxes                10
  • Hiring Qualified Staff                                  7
  • Product Improvements / Updates            6
  • Healthcare / Obama Care                           6
  • Competition with Larger Corporations    6
  • Cost of Running Business                           5
  • Credit Availability                                         4
  • Marketing / Advertising                              4
  • Nothing / No Challenge                               2
  • Seasonal Issues                                              1
  • Employee Benefits                                        1
  • Don’t Know                                                     1
  • Other                                                                1                                             TOTAL       100%
  First of all, nearly one third (32%) of the owners are challenged by exactly the same issues (Government Regulations, The Economy and Taxes) that their competitors are faced with.  At ActionCOACH we advise our clients and aspire to live “above the line” of choice, taking Ownership/being Accountable/being Responsible for our results, rather than being “below the line”, Blaming others/making Excuses/being in Denial.  (For additional information about above/below the line, visit ozprinciple.com and/or read or listen to The OZ Principle by Roger Connors and Tom Smith and Craig Hickman).  Regulations, The Economy and Taxes are not challenges to the business owners who operate above the line and refuse to make excuses for their less than stellar results and treat these issues as opportunities to outpace their competitors. The BIG Disconnect I found within the survey results is the 9 percentage point difference between the top challenge, Attracting Customers (13%) and Marketing / Advertising (4%).  This gap demonstrates one of the top issues my colleagues and I find at our prospects and new clients, namely not viewing marketing as an investment aimed at “buying” customers.  It seems that everyone wants more customers, but do not have a realistic attitude about marketing.  It always amazes me how many business owners I meet who believe that simply having a better mousetrap and opening their doors will attract customers.  Today’s market environment is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing due to the greater opportunities to cost effectively reach very large audiences with our marketing messages.  It is a curse due to the tremendous amount of “noise” that there is out in the marketplace.  Our clients who view marketing as an investment, who therefore, establish proper and useful metrics, and are prepared to respond to what their metrics tell them, consistently outperform their rivals. If you are not pleased with the number of customers/clients/patients you have, I suggest that you contact me or one of my ActionCOACH colleagues before you contact a marketing consultant.  If you build the proper foundation and expectations, your marketing will be much more effective when you begin your next marketing campaign.

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.