Growth vs Culture In A Time of “Full Employment”

I am currently re-reading “Built to Last” the great book by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras.  In Chapter 6, entitled “Cult-Like Cultures” the authors discuss their finding of almost religious adherence to a company’s culture within the companies they have labeled as visionary. Following a section describing one person’s experience at Nordstrom, they revealed that contrary to their initial expectation, they found that many of the visionary companies were not great places to work unless team members completely bought the company’s culture. “We learned that you don’t need to create a “soft” or “comfortable” environment to build a visionary company. We found that the visionary companies tend to be more demanding of their people than other companies, both in terms of performance and congruence with the ideology.”  ““VISIONARY,” we learned, does not mean soft and undisciplined. Quite the contrary. Because the visionary companies have such clarity about who they are, what they’re all about, and what they’re trying to achieve, they tend to not have much room for people unwilling or unsuited to their demanding standards.” My coaching clients have taught me that Mission, Vision and Culture (MVC) are extremely important toward consistently delivering long-term value and success, both to the community, the company and the team.  This brings me to a major set of questions:
  • If a demanding MVC reduces the number of people who will be happy working at your company, and if there is virtually full-employment in your area, how will you be able to bring value to a growing number of customers, clients, patients (CCPs) if you cannot recruit team members who will embrace your MVC? GROWTH
  • If due to a lack of viable candidates, you lower the bar and begin to hire team member who are not totally committed your MVC, will your business’ MVC deteriorate? Will you lose your competitive advantage?  CULTURE
  • Finally, does all of this remain completely relevant as the pool of candidates shifts toward millennials?
I admit to not having complete answers to these questions.  However, I do think that businesses that deliver value to the world will be much more attractive to potential team members, regardless of their age group, than companies that exist simply to make money.  What do you think?

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.

How Complex Is Your Business?

While working with one of my clients whose medical practice has been growing very rapidly, the subject of maintaining organizational focus and culture came up.  As our discussion progressed I was reminded of a few flip charts Brad Sugars, the founder and chairman of ActionCOACH, presented at one of our conferences.  Brad first drew a two person company with one direct connection between the people. That flip chart looked something like this:Two Connections The next flip chart showed a three person company that had three direct connections between the people, looking something like this:Three Connections His third flip chart was a four person company with six direct connections: Four Connections Brad’s final flip chart was of an eight person organization showing twenty eight direct connections. Eight Connections My client, with a stunned look on her face, saw this and said “No wonder I’ve had so many problems controlling the growth of my business.” Just to recap: connections table The simple formula for this is:

Direct Connections = ((Number of People * (Number of People – 1) / 2)

Using this formula it is easy to see that the level of complexity in a company grows at a much greater rate than the company’s growth rate. Is your business starting to look a little bit more complex than perhaps you realized? So how are we to grow our businesses, maintaining organizational focus and effectiveness?  There are four key things you must accomplish in order to grow in control:
  1. Have a clear company Mission, Vision and Culture (MVC) – A strong and clear MVC that is aligned and congruent with your company’s Unique Value Proposition (UVP) is the cornerstone of healthy consistent growth.
  2. Communicate and Educate – You must constantly communicate your MVC and UVP to your team, both internal and external, and to your customers, both existing and potential. You must educate new team members and potential customers about your MVC and UVP and the Why behind them (Read Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why” for further insight).  And most importantly it is absolutely essential that you eat, sleep and breathe your MVC and UVP.
  3. Plan your organization – Although many like to promote flat organizational models, completely flat organizations quickly lose their effectiveness as they scale up. Thus it is vitally important to plan the organizational structure of your company.  At one end of the scale, completely flat will not allow for effective growth, at the other end of the scale, old fashion command and control will compromise creativity and nimbleness.
  4. Be Proactive – Most companies grow organically, without very much forethought or advanced planning. Too often companies reach the point of no return structurally and fail.  All of my clients have a vision of how their companies will be structured working backward from three to five years in the future.  You should do the same.
My ActionCOACH colleagues and I will be happy to assist you to develop your MVC, UVP and Organizational Structure, all of which will prepare your business for exceptional growth.

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.

2015 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious – Part 2

Here are some more BFO’s from February’s 2015 North American Business Excellence Forum (#BEF2015) and Awards.  On the second day of the conference, we were privileged to be entertained, motivated and advised by Jeffrey Gitomer (@gitomer facebook.com/jeffreygitomer linkedin.com/in/jeffreygitomer) a well known speaker, blogger, author and trainer focused on sales.  His style is rapid fire; I could barely keep up with him with my notes.  Nevertheless, here are some of my top Gitomer BFO’s :
  • Gitomer Rule #1 – Make the prospect laugh and think within the first minute, or you’ll spend the rest of your time trying to recover
  • People don’t like to be sold, they like to buy – One of his core lessons
  • Tell stories that make you believable, facts and figures are forgotten, stories are TOLD and RETOLD
  • Control and engage a conversation by asking questions
  • Service after the sale leads to both Reputation and Referrals
  • Service response for non-salespeople is more powerful than sales – Everyone is in SALES
  • You MUST be perceived to be EASY to do business with 7.365
  • The biggest barrier to sales is fear of consequences
  • Become known as a person and business of value.
And many, many more. I strongly suggest that you subscribe to Gitomer’s Sales Caffeine newsletter (www.salescaffeine.com) for further insight into sales and selling. Brad Sugars, Founder and Chairman of ActionCOACH returned to the stage and spoke about some of the basic concepts that are the foundation of ActionCOACH.  Here are some of my BFO’s from Brad, in no particular order:
  • The ActionCOACH Formula for Change – (D x V) + F > R
    • Dissatisfaction (with the current situation)
    • Vision (what will be after the change)
    • First Steps (make them easy)
    • Resistance (to the change)
  • BE x DO = HAVE – Ever wonder why most multi-million dollar lottery winners become worse off financially than they were before they won the millions within a shockingly short time? The answer is they didn’t have the BEing of a millionaire and therefore didn’t DO what millionaires do and therefore didn’t truly HAVE the millions. You must BE whatever you need to be in order to truly and continually achieve your goals.
  • Living your life above the line of choice
    • Above the line is Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility – have an OAR to steer your life
    • Below the line is Blame, Excuses and Denial – you might as well stay in bed
  • Watch of for the Taps on your Shoulder – Because problems that are unaddressed just get bigger as time passes, you need to tune into the early warnings, the “taps on your shoulder” before you get smacked with a a 2×4, or worse hit by a Mack truck further down the road of life
  • If you build a business to be replicable (even if you have no plans to replicate) it will be stronger and more valuable – Propels you toward the ActionCOACH definition of a successful business A Commercial Profitable Enterprise That Works Without You
  • If it is being done, it can be done, and therefore You/I Can Do It! – A great attitude to have in life
  • Determine what is the highest and best use of your time, and adhere to it
Two more very important BFO’s from Brad Sugars:
  • When you believe in your mission, you have a moral and ethical obligation to follow it
  • Knowledge is not the problem, it is lack of ACTION
Finally, every speaker who presented at the BEF said the following in one way or another: Schedule Time To Think – Those who think govern those who labor

Effective Delegation vs. Abdication – Part 4

As part of my on-going series about the art and science of effective delegation, I will discuss two topics in this blog; The prerequisites of effective delegation and how to prepare to delegate. The Key Prerequisites Of Effective Delegation There are a number of essential items you should address before delegating a particular responsibility or task:
  • Delegation Plan – As is the case in many business projects, planning is a key element of success. Therefore, you must have a delegation plan.  This plan should include:
    • What is to be delegated – a clear description of the task or responsibility you are going to delegate
    • Who is this item going to be delegated to – not only who, but you will need to have a clear understanding of why the recipient is the ideal person (or team) to accomplish your goal
    • Definition of Success – have a clear understanding of what your expected result will be, and be able to clearly communicate this definition of success
    • Metrics – know how you are going to measure progress toward success
    • Time frame – is the item to be delegated on-going or finite
    • Follow up – know how often are you going to check on progress toward success
  • The Why – You must have a clear understanding of why you are delegating the item. Your why may include some of the following:
    • You do not have the necessary skills
    • You do not like the task to be delegated
    • Someone on your team (either internal or external) has more experience or professional training
    • The item is not the most effective use of your time and attention
  • The Item Must Be Something That Can Be Delegated – Simply put, if you are the surgeon, you must do the surgery. On the other hand, if you are the surgeon, you will certainly delegate the anesthesia.  It is counterproductive to delegate something that only you can accomplish AND is core to the success of your business
  Preparing To Delegate Not unlike real estate, effective delegation has three very important items you must have in order to delegate:
  1. Communicate the responsibility or task to be delegated – know exactly how you are going to define what you expect
  2. Communicate the definition of success – know exactly how you are going to define and measure success
  3. Communicate the bigger picture – know how you are place the delegated item into the context of the businesses success and mission
Unlike real estate there is a fourth important item you must be prepared to do in order to have effective delegation, not abdication – you MUST be prepared to not take the item back if it is being accomplished but not exactly as you would accomplish it.  As long as it is moving forward, you must be prepared to LET IT GO!

Would I Fire My Client If I Owned His Company?

During a coaching session the other day, one of my clients asked me a very interesting question.  To paraphrase his question –> given his shortcoming number one, and shortcoming number two, and etc., “if you (meaning me) owned my (meaning his) company and I was your employee, would you fire me?”  At first I was, I must admit, speechless.  After gathering my composure I realized a couple of things:
  • All of the shortcomings he mentioned represented areas that are outside of the ownership zone. They all focused on working IN the business rather than working ON the business. They revolved around tasks that he could, and should delegate.  My client owns a mid-sized manufacturing company with a front office team that has the theoretical capacity to accomplish most, if not all, of the items he mentioned.  On the other hand, his front office team may not be the right team to accomplish the items.  Which led me to my second realization …
  • Being an owner is very different from being an employee. An owner has several prime responsibilities, among them are:
    • To create and maintain a success environment for his team
    • To create, communicate and live the company’s Mission, Vision and Culture (M/V/C)
    • To design, build and lead the company and its team to ensure consistent delivery of the company’s M/V/C
So my answer to his question was that as an employee I might fire him.  As an owner however, he, as is the case for all of us, could improve.  I told him that it is time to build the kind of team to whom he could confidently delegate, not abdicate, those items that he shouldn’t be doing, is not good at or simply doesn’t like doing.  Effective and successful delegation will enable him to concentrate on working toward growing the business and fulfilling the company’s M/V/C, in other words, to grow as an owner.