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 …

How To Grow My Business And Not Lose My Edge?

During many coaching sessions with my clients one theme that constantly reappears is how to grow a business in balance.  For growing businesses, losing sight of their culture, their mission, their excellence, or their operational consistency is a constant concern.  The faster the rate of growth, the greater the danger. I recently read a great article by Leigh Buchanan in the March 2014 issue of Inc Magazine that addresses exactly this important concern (http://www.inc.com/magazine/201403/leigh-buchanan/how-to-scale-your-company.html).  I am sure you will garner a few useful insights that will help you grow your business in balance.

What Can We Learn About Business From James Taylor?

To celebrate the 4th of July I went to Tanglewood in Lenox, MA to see one of James Taylor’s (JT) annual concerts.  JT has been giving concerts on and around July 4th for more than 20 years.  Many in the audience have seen a majority, if not all of these concerts.  In a review of the concert, the reviewer, unknowingly asked the business question … why do so many people, from far and near, fill Tanglewood beyond capacity at these concerts year after year?

The one word answer, one of the keys to long term business success – Consistency!

James Taylor demonstrates consistency in 3 important ways:
  • Consistent Quality – JT surrounds himself with perhaps the very best back-up singers in the business.  In addition, the musicians in his band are exceptional.  The arrangements, both vocal and instrumental are exceptional as well.  Does your business offer a consistent level of quality to your customers?
  • Consistent Delivery – Year after year, although JT is now 64 years old, he makes sure to sing within his vocal range.  He has adopted the latest audio monitor technology all in order to deliver a top quality vocal performance.  His guitar arrangements and the variety of instruments he plays deliver exceptional musical moments.  In addition, he employs up to the minute lighting and sound equipment to deliver just the right atmosphere for each song.  How consistent is the delivery of your business?  If you are not delivering in a consistent manor, you will never build long term success into your business.
  • Consistent Variety – I know what you are thinking, isn’t consistent variety an oxymoron?  Well, in this case, no.  All of the regulars know that JT, while covering the expected bases, such as Sweet Baby James, You’ve Got A Friend, Mexico to name a few, he will also play a variety of songs that a different from year to year.  For instance, this year he performed Twist and a moving arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner.  In addition, some of the songs were played to new arrangements.  This variety makes each year’s concerts unique and therefore must see events.  One of the things James Taylor is known for is the variety of his performances.  This makes him somewhat unique (there are other bands and performers in others genres that offer variety) and ultimately increases the value of his concerts.  What is the unique value proposition of your business?  Do your customers and your team understand the value your business delivers?
James Taylor consistently delivers quality, variety, and value to his audience making him one of the most popular and enduring acts in show business today.  How can you deliver consistent quality and value to your customers?  If you need help with the consistency of your business, call me or one of my colleagues at ActionCOACH.