2019 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of the Obvious Part 4

Our next speaker was the amazing Sheri Riley, author of “Exponential Living – Stop Spending 100% of Your Time on 10% of Who You Are” Her presentation included many BFOs:
  • What will you give up to grow? If you don’t give things up, you limit your capacity to grow.
  • Personal development fuels professional growth
  • Our skills and talents can take us to levels of success that our character can’t sustain
  • Personal development is LEADERSHIP
img_2933-for-blog Her book includes a road map to the title subject, Exponential Living img_2939-for-blog The balance of Sheri’s presentation was about the five steps to Living Your Power
  1. Perspective – “I don’t know” is not the truth, it clouds your vision
    • “Be realistic with your goals and unrealistic with your thinking and your effort.” – Paul Martinelli, President, The John Maxwell Team
  2. Ownership – What are you focused on?
    • When looking at peoples to do lists it was found that
      • People didn’t remember why 1/3 of the items were on their lists
      • 1/3 of the items were for others, and
      • 1/3 were chronologically out of order
    • Most suffered from FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out
  3. Wisdom – What is your plan?
    • Determine your 1 to 3 MOST important NEXT steps
    • Ask yourself, “Am I chasing opportunities that are actually distractions?
  4. Engagement – What adjustments do you need to make to implement?
    • Presence is not enough, being present is the key
    • Multi-tasking is a lie!
  5. Reward – How will you remain consistent?
    • Don’t walk away from a goal because the plan isn’t working
    • Be committed to the goal, be committed to consistency, be flexible with the plan
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  • Broaden our definition of success
  • Eliminate the fear of success
img_2954-for-blog Brad Sugars returned to the stage as our final speaker of BEF.  He discussed reaching critical mass:
  • You must grow into your role and goal
  • Wisdom comes from the application of knowledge
  • Commitment – with bacon & eggs
    • The chicken is a participant
    • The pig is committed!
  • The concept of BE x DO = HAVE
    • Applies to a person
    • Applies to a couple
    • Applies to a team
    • Applies to a company
At the awards dinner the evening of the second day, one of the award winners had a different spin on one of our PowerPoint slides: Instead of You have to learn more to earn more, It’s not about what you earn, it’s about who you become. If you wish to discuss any of the BFOs or concepts presented in this 4-part series, my colleagues and I are just a phone call, email to website inquiry away.  You simply have to take ACTION!

Why You Should Prepare Your Business To Be Sold (Even If You Don’t Plan To Sell It)

One fact I often site is that on average, 10,000 baby boomers in the USA turn 65 every day.  This has been going on for the past seven years and will continue for another eleven years.  This fact presents two major opportunities to the business world:
  1. What products or services does this huge portion of the population need as they become “senior citizens?”  And they are living longer.
  2. Many Baby Boomers are business owners. Their businesses will eventually be sold, transferred, or they will use some other form of exit in the coming years.
This leads me to the main point of this blog … preparing businesses and business owners (even if they are not Baby Boomers) for their exit, even though they have no plan to exit soon.  Here are the top six reasons you should prepare your business for exit:
  1. Maximize – A business that is prepared for the owner’s exit will be much more valuable than a business that is dependent on the owner’s day-to-day contribution to operations. During ActionCOACH training we learned that a business owners’ product is the business, not the product or service of the business.  Therefore, we coach our clients to invest a major portion of their time toward working “ON” their business, rather than only working “IN” their business.  An owner’s prime responsibility is to design and create a business environment that enables their team to succeed.
  2. Money – A business that is prepared for the owner’s exit will be more profitable than a business that is totally, or partially dependent on the owner’s involvement. Owners need to design their operations to maximize the leverage of their and the team’s time and talents.
  3. Time – The owner of a prepared business will have more time and freedom to pursue other interests, be they business or personal.
  4. Harmony – We all seek work-life harmony. A well designed, prepared business enhances their owner’s ability to achieve work-life harmony.
  5. Contribution – A well prepared business will deliver more value to its customers, clients, patients, team, owner and community.
  6. Protect – A business that is designed and built for the owner’s exit will provide protection to the business’ team and the owner’s family. There are too many instances of businesses that failed after an owner’s disability or death.  The potential for destruction of value, jobs and fortunes is reason enough for you to prepare your business for your exit.
One of the main focuses of the ActionCOACH coaching process is preparing our clients and their businesses to be sold.  If you wish to prepare your business for your exit and earn more money until you decide it is time to exit, my colleagues and I are ready to assist you.

2017 Business Excellence Forum – Blinding Flashes of The Obvious Part 2

  • After a short break, Keith Cunningham continued with many insights born out of a major bankruptcy that occurred in 2001: img_9520-small And then … img_9524-small Of course, he was speaking about ENRON
  • To repeat a BFO from part 1 – Profit is a THEORY / Cash is a FACT img_9529-small
  • If the Wall Street analysts had looked at ENRON’s Cashflow Statements, they would have easily discovered that ENRON was in an unsustainable cash situation. So … img_9530-small
  • Another great Keith quote “The key to getting rich (generating cash) is to make fewer stupid decisions.” Generate, digest and understand your timely financial statements, and scoreboards.  Your financials and scoreboards MUST be relevant, based on a granular chart of accounts and metrics that are reflective of your goals.  If you do this, you will make better decisions.
  • Get the BUSINESS into business!
Next Mr. Cunningham concluded with what I consider to be the most important message of his presentation:
  • An Owner/CEO/Leader has four jobs that CANNOT be delegated:
    1. Getting clarity about the obstacles
      • Identify and understand the obstacles to success, develop a strategy to overcome the obstacles and then build a machine to carry out the strategy / OSM – Obstacle + Strategy + Machine
      • The Machine is A Plan, the People and Execution
      • Be careful to determine the REAL problem
      • Continually ask yourself what can I do today to improve my situation?
      • Often, we don’t have clarity because we don’t ask the RIGHT Questions
        • “Smart people have really good answers, geniuses have really good questions.”
      • Powerful questions: img_9544-small Powerful Growth Questions: img_9546-small
      • To identify the underlying reasons: img_9547-small
    2. Prioritization – Allocation of resources img_9549-small Another great question: img_9550-small
  1. Organizational Chart – Structure and Who
    • Keith said “opportunity without structure is chaos and drama!”
    • One of my coaches says “Abundance cannot exist where there is complexity and/or drama.”
    • Who? img_9552-small and solve problems
  2. Culture
    • Culture, Not Perks
    • Employees are number 1, not customers
    • The source of all value is your Team (your Who) and your Culture img_9555-small img_9557-small img_9557-bottom-small img_9558-small
  • To Summarize – As a CEO/OWNER/LEADER you cannot Delegate: img_9553-small 
The next presenter was Dr. Ivan Misner, founder and Chairman of Business Network International (BNI).  Dr. Misner has been called the “Father of Modern Networking” and is a well-known speaker and author on the subject of business networking.  You will not be surprised that the subject of his presentation was networking.  Here are a few BFOs from his presentation:
  • When at a business networking function, it doesn’t hurt to ask for business – RIGHT? WRONG!  Networking is all about making and building relationships.
  • Many people, when introduced to a person of certain professions will cut the conversation short – thinking they can’t help me. That is a mistake because you never know who they know.
  • Networking is like farming – you must plant the seeds of a relationship with everyone you meet.
  • Diversify your networks – join industry exclusive, non-exclusive, industry specific, locally based (chamber of commerce, for example), regional and on-line networks.
  • Be aware of the relationship of the time it will take to build confidence with someone you meet based on your profession. img_9573-small
  • And remember perception is reality img_9574-small Be aware of how you are perceived.
This wraps up my BFOs from the first day of the 2017 BEFA.  Stay tuned for Part 3.

Are you an Entrepreneur?

My wife and I took our grandsons to see, “School of Rock” on Broadway last weekend.  There is one line in the show that struck a chord with me: “Not everyone is cut out to be a rock star, but if you are, then you’ve got to go for it.” What struck me about that line is how it directly relates to business and my coaching practice: “Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur, but if you are, then you’ve got to go for it.” In my mind, there are two types of entrepreneurs; active entrepreneurs and everyone else who has a job.  In other words, we are all entrepreneurs.  The days of two-way company/employee loyalty for 30-40 years is gone.  No more gold watches and fancy retirement parties.  Like it or not, we have become a society of “Me, Inc.”  We are our own bosses. But how do you know if you are cut out to be an active entrepreneur?  Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  1. Am I comfortable with an erratic schedule? Do I have good time management skills?  As an entrepreneur, you likely won’t be working 9-5.  As you gear up, 10-12 hour days are not uncommon; you’ll spend your time networking, blogging, researching, and marketing.  You will need to work on your business every day.
  2. Can I afford it? You need a safety net.  It can take up to six months or more to start to see a steady income.  Depending on the terms of your contracts, clients can take up to three months to pay.
  3. What could I do? Two ways to go here:
    1. Skills and Talents: Evaluate your current career/work situation. Are there any skills that you can take and parlay into a business?
    2. Passion: Hobbies: many people have used their talents and created successful companies from their love of baking or knitting.
  4. What are my strengths and weaknesses? While it might be painful, ask your friends and family.  They will give you some good insight regarding how you are with people, taking initiative, or seeing a project to the end.  A word of caution here, do not let family and friends dissuade you from pursuing your dream.  Also, don’t underestimate self-assessment tools – such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® or the DiSC which can provide self-awareness.
Assuming these items don’t scare you, what’s next?
  1. Plan. Our philosophy at ActionCOACH is to start planning as early as possible.  Most businesses grow organically, without planning.  Often, that leads to problems down the road.
  2. Research. Talk to other people who are already doing it.  You need to know the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Arm yourself with as much information as possible.  Additionally, there are many excellent books that address entrepreneurship as well as your area of expertise.  Never stop learning.
  3. Get all necessary certifications. The cost of the schooling may be tax deductible.
  4. Start small. Get the word out with friends and family about the service(s) or product(s) you are offering.  Word of mouth is one of the most effective marketing tools.
  5. Don’t wait until you get laid off. Lay the groundwork as soon as possible.
  6. Most important, hire an ActionCOACH to help you write a business plan, outline goals, and be the most effective president of “Me, Inc.”
Even if you decide you do not wish to be an active entrepreneur, it is necessary to take most of the steps outlined above to succeed in your career.

Oops!

I pride myself on my organizational skills and attention to detail.  Since my coaching practice depends on both, I’ve developed spreadsheets, procedures, and extensive files on my shared disk drive which enable me to run my business effectively and efficiently.  It’s a system that works well, enables leverage, and keeps me in check. So, imagine my chagrin when all too late, I – or rather my wife – discovered a typo in my December newsletter that was missed by both me and my assistant.  It’s hard to correct without jamming up people’s inboxes so the most I could hope for is … laughter! Yes, we have to laugh at these minor transgressions and put them into perspective.  In this case, my assistant indicated 2016, not 2017 for a January seminar.  She herself laughed and said that she was still writing 2014 on checks.  I had little choice but to laugh along with her because this is very likely a universal thing.  (By the way, as I finalize this toward the end of December, I note that although many opened the December newsletter, no one called me out about the typo.) All too often, we are quick to point out errors and mistakes – as my wife did about the incorrect year.  I think it gives us some satisfaction knowing that we are all flawed.  So how do you overcome setbacks like this?  Here’s a formula:
  1. Be above the line.  Apologize without making excuses.  Saying “I’m sorry” acknowledges the mistake and demonstrates being accountable.  Likewise, if you are on the receiving end of the error, give the person a chance to own up to it without using accountability as a weapon.
  2.  Correct.  After you apologize, ask how you can make it right.  Come up with ideas on your own and collaborate with peers if necessary.  And, on the receiving end, listen and appreciate.
  3. Learn.  There is a vast body of published biographies, auto biographies, business books, articles and knowledge that equate failure and mistakes with prerequisites to success. Bottom line, you’ve got to Learn to Earn.
On the other hand, if you keep making the same mistakes, then it’s time to hire an ActionCOACH business coach to help you break through the obstacles that may be holding you back.  In addition, if you need to design your business to maximize your leverage or would like to learn more about bringing your business and yourself above the line of choice, contact myself or any of my colleagues for a no obligation complementary coaching diagnostic session and learn how we can add value to you and your business.

Isn’t That Interesting?

When I mentioned to my assistant today that I needed to write a blog post, she replied, “Well, what is people’s pain these days? Write about that!” With a smirk, I told her that I didn’t want to get political and she and I went on to have a pretty lively discussion about the candidates. Although we didn’t come out and say it, I got the feeling that we were of the same mindset which came as a relief. Nothing like working in a small, two-person office and being at complete odds with one another. But what about the rampant disagreements that are clogging up your Facebook page? “Your candidate is an idiot!” “Your candidate sucks!” And worse. Friendships are broken, even families can splinter when the members are on opposite sides of the fence. Every year, it seems that the back biting and insults get worse when, in truth, it’s been this way for 200 years. When I was in architecture school, my fellow students and I would often question one particular professor about one building or another to elicit his opinion about said building. “What do you think of Lake Point Tower?” Tilting his head and stroking his well-trimmed beard, he’d thoughtfully and quietly reply, “It’s interesting.” Interesting? That’s it? We were stymied by his response but now, 50 years later, I’ve come to appreciate these two seemingly innocuous – and admittedly somewhat frustrating – words and I teach them to my coaching clients today. The potential uses are endless and should be a part of every-day communication skills. It can be used in business settings, family settings, one-on-one relationships and the list goes on. Use it when someone tells you something that you don’t believe in or agree with. Let’s face it: our goals in provoking an argument is to get the other person to be on your side. More often than not, it has the opposite effect. So let’s take a look at how we can incorporate “That’s interesting!” into today’s volatile political arena: Ranting person: “Idiotface candidate is a lame-brained jerkhead who would take this country into world war III!” or “Moron is a bald-faced liar!” You (rakishly tilting your head and thoughtfully stroking your chin): “Hmmmmm…. that’s interesting!” Ranting person: “YEAH! Uh………” See? You’ve managed to acknowledge ranting person’s tirade while not giving him fuel for the fire. Chances are, he’ll either keep ranting, to which you keep replying, “That’s interesting!” or he’ll walk away. In essence, he’s inviting you to an argument but you’re not accepting the invitation. When applied to business, it can enhance brainstorming sessions, make meetings more effective and inclusive, and from the receiver’s side, defuse potentially negative performance reviews. Just be sure not to overuse it or it can be construed as passive aggression. But the thoughtfulness and learning behind it just may teach you something. And isn’t that interesting?

Barbara Corcoran’s Worst Way to Ask For Assistance

One of my favorite activities while behind the wheel driving to and from the Berkshires is listening to one of the SUCCESS Magazine monthly audio CDs.  This past weekend I was inspired by a segment with Barbara Corcoran on the June 2016 CD. In answer to the interviewer’s question about some of the worst things she has heard from the entrepreneurs she has invested in, she said that  the absolute worst was “What should I do about … ?”  She made it very clear that there is nothing worse than asking her for help that way.  It is not that she does not make herself available to assist and advise her investees, quite the contrary.  She just knows that “What should I do … ?” is the wrong way to request assistance. Why?  That particular phrase and its variations demonstrates a lack of Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility (OAR – above the line of choice – see The OZ Principle by  Roger Connors, Tom Smith and Craig Hickman) for the implementation and outcome of the advice.  If someone tells you what you should do to solve an issue and things do not go well, you can lay Blame at the other person’s feet (Below the Line behavior).  Or if you don’t implement or botch the implementation of the other person’s recommendation, you can still operate below the line by making some sort of Excuse. So what is the right way of requesting assistance from your adviser?  The answer is a very subtle, but significant change to the phrasing of the request to “What would you do in this situation … ?”  When you ask for assistance or advice using this wording, you are taking Ownership, being Accountable and Responsible for both the implementation and results of the suggestion.  Classic above the line behavior.  Sounds subtle but the difference is massive.  Furthermore, the advice you receive is more likely to be well thought out.  And due to your OAR, the results you achieve in solving whatever issue you sought assistance for will be faster and better.  When you operate above the line positive results are easier to achieve.  As the old (actually very old) television commercial said “try it, you’ll like it.” If you wish to delve deeper into living above the line of choice in order to accelerate and magnify your results, my ActionCOACH colleagues and I are ready to assist you.  All you have to do is contact us.