A BFO About Planning

This blog was originally posted 1/7/2018 at actioncoachmichaelbreitman.com

I had a major comeuppance and Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO) this morning related to one of my monthly activities, instigated by a Darren Hardy video I watched yesterday.  During my holiday break the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I worked on a few administrative tasks in advance of their normal schedule.  Among them was a look at my Accounts Receivable (A/R) aging.  I printed the A/R Summary Aging Report from QuickBooks and thought about how I wanted to collect from each of the few past due client in the report.  After deciding on several different collection strategies based on the past due amount, age and client situation, I put a code next to each past due client.   For example; some were going to receive a statement via email followed by a call, a few would get a mailed statement and a call, etc.  I must admit, I was very proud of myself for addressing this unpleasant, but necessary task earlier than usual.

This morning, almost two week later, I realized that after planning my collection strategies, I put my collection plan into my A/R folder without implementing it!  My BFO:

Planning to do something, and knowing how it will be accomplished ….

Is Not The Same As Actually Doing It!

There is no doubt that planning is essential, as the saying goes, “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.”  However, failing to work the plan is actual failure.

In Darren Hardy’s video, he presented a weekly Sunday Planning System (http://dh.darrenhardy.com/win-the-week).  As he explains during the video, he was given the system by a billionaire he was introduced to a few years ago.  In addition to the Sunday Planning System, the billionaire told him that in order to focus and maximize his effectiveness and results, he works on one, and only one major item per day.  He addresses that item until it is complete.  Based on this system, and my BFO, my plan going forward is to plan and finish whenever possible.  No more plan, put aside to finish later.  By the way, Darren Hardy is one of the keynote speakers at the 2018 Business Excellence Forum and Awards (http://www.thebusinessexcellenceforums.com/events/?event_id1=7) February 18th to 20th in San Diego.

As we begin 2018, I encourage you to plan and act to achieve your goals.  My ActionCOACH colleagues and I are presenting GrowthCLUB 90-day planning workshops in the coming weeks.  These powerful and very effective workshops will accelerate your journey to massive results in your business and life.  Plan to register, attend and implement your ActionPLAN.

February Is National Time Management Month

Since the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has declared February to be National Time Management Month, and in honor that, I’ve decided to vary from my usual theme of effective delegation.  So here are a few strategies and tips that will help you better manage your time, and ultimately, yourself.  As it has often been said, time is our most precious resource.  At an ActionCOACH conference a few years ago, Stedman Graham summed it up saying that time is the great equalizer, no matter who you are you have twenty-four hours in a day, no more, no less.  For the most part, billionaires use their twenty-four more effectively than the rest of us. The following tips, strategies and tactics are from the ActionCOACH TimeRICH seminar:
  1. When you have a choice, use the following two factors to decide to invest your time on an activity or task:
    1. Is this “thing” worth more than your minimum dollar threshold (whatever you decide that number to be)? If you haven’t yet developed your “worth” invest some effort to calculate an hourly dollar value of your time as soon as possible.  This is very important because every time you say YES to an activity or project, you are effectively saying NO to many others.
    2. Does this “thing” contribute toward accomplishing one or more of your goals? You must strive to relate EVERYTHING you invest your time in to your goals.
  2. Build an extended team, not only employees, that you can delegate (not abdicate) items to. That’s how the billionaires get leverage, you can too.  If they are knowledgeable about the “thing” you are delegating, your extended team may include your CPA, attorneys, family, mentors, etc.  Do not delegate to unqualified people.  Also, remember in a corporate environment, if you are careful, you can delegate upward.
  3. One of the best habits I adopted after I completed ActionCOACH induction training is – Never finish today, until you plan tomorrow. Before I leave my office, I list out my must achieves for the next day.
  4. Be Militant about those who undervalue your time by interrupting. You can:
    1. Get lost – work remotely
    2. Not answer the phone – call screening works
    3. Regulate email – you can set the polling interval in most email apps
    4. Be busy and be obvious about it
    5. Set the timer on the bomb (my favorite), “I have a call in five minutes”
  5. Block your time – create a default diary (ideal calendar, default calendar) communicate it and stick to it.
These five tips are just the tip (no pun intended) of the iceberg.  My colleagues at ActionCOACH and I have a wealth of effective time management strategies at our fingertips.  If you are find that there are not enough hours in the day, or you are totally overwhelmed by the “things” on your plate, WE CAN HELP!  Just contact me or any of my ActionCOACH colleagues.

A BFO About Planning (moved)

I had a major comeuppance and Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO) this morning related to one of my monthly activities, instigated by a Darren Hardy video I watched yesterday.  During my holiday break the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I worked on a few administrative tasks in advance of their normal schedule.  Among them was a look at my Accounts Receivable (A/R) aging.  I printed the A/R Summary Aging Report from QuickBooks and thought about how I wanted to collect from each of the few past due client in the report.  After deciding on several different collection strategies based on the past due amount, age and client situation, I put a code next to each past due client.   For example; some were going to receive a statement via email followed by a call, a few would get a mailed statement and a call, etc.  I must admit, I was very proud of myself for addressing this unpleasant, but necessary task earlier than usual. This morning, almost two week later, I realized that after planning my collection strategies, I put my collection plan into my A/R folder without implementing it!  My BFO:

Planning to do something, and knowing how it will be accomplished ….

Is Not The Same As Actually Doing It!

There is no doubt that planning is essential, as the saying goes, “Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail.”  However, failing to work the plan is actual failure. In Darren Hardy’s video, he presented a weekly Sunday Planning System (http://dh.darrenhardy.com/win-the-week).  As he explains during the video, he was given the system by a billionaire he was introduced to a few years ago.  In addition to the Sunday Planning System, the billionaire told him that in order to focus and maximize his effectiveness and results, he works on one, and only one major item per day.  He addresses that item until it is complete.  Based on this system, and my BFO, my plan going forward is to plan and finish whenever possible.  No more plan, put aside to finish later.  By the way, Darren Hardy is one of the keynote speakers at the 2018 Business Excellence Forum and Awards (http://www.thebusinessexcellenceforums.com/events/?event_id1=7) February 18th to 20th in San Diego. As we begin 2018, I encourage you to plan and act to achieve your goals.  My ActionCOACH colleagues and I are presenting GrowthCLUB 90-day planning workshops in the coming weeks.  These powerful and very effective workshops will accelerate your journey to massive results in your business and life.  Plan to register, attend and implement your ActionPLAN.

More on Time Management

Reading a John C. Maxwell article in the September 2017 edition of Success about time management, entitled “4 Tips to Set Yourself Up for a Better Tomorrow Today” got me thinking.  On a hunch, I went back and reviewed several other articles, publications and the ActionCOACH TimeRICH seminar on the subject of time management and was able to confirm my conclusion that

Time Management is really Self Management!

This is not exactly a new idea, I’ve said this during numerous presentations.  So why highlight it now in this blog?  It seems to me that many of us brush off the importance of time-self management.  Taking an “I am what I am” attitude rather than seeking to improve our use of our time.  Thus, I am going to reiterate a few of our top self-time management tips:
  • Set personally motivating goals – if your goals are truly important to you, you must strive to connect every activity to them. In the article, Maxwell encourages creating a Priority Inventory, another way of looking at the connection of your goals to your activities.
  • Don’t finish today until you plan tomorrow – Maxwell explains two concepts in his article; be deliberate in your use of time, and hone your decision-making skills. Once you increase your awareness of your goals and their relationship to your activities, you will become more deliberate in your investment of time.  The decision as to what to address and what not to address will become easier, enhancing your self management.  Remember, every time you say “YES” to something, you are saying “NO” to many other activities.
  • Create a Default Diary – a schedule of how you intend to invest your time on “normal” days. Your Default Diary (Ideal Week or Default Calendar, we use these terms interchangeably at ActionCOACH) accomplishes many things; it sets your time expectations, and communicates them.  You will feel uneasy when your activities conflict with your internal clock once it has been set via your Default Diary.  Many of my clients use their Default Calendar as a communication tool with their teams, using the tool to create “deep thinking” time slots.
  • Delegate – Effective delegation is the key to successful time and self management. None of us are expert or skilled in all aspects necessary for the success of our businesses or lives.  We are faced with the choice to do it all, abdicate or delegate numerous times every day.  Should I change the oil in my car myself?  Should I abdicate the oil change by simply dropping off the car at my local service station? Or, should I effectively delegate the oil change by carefully selecting the service station or dealer, asking them about the oil and filter they are going to use, and all the other details related to the oil change?  I used this example to exemplify the fact that we can all delegate to our extended team even if we have no direct employees.  When delegating, John Maxwell makes the point the we should not mistake activity for advancement.  This applies to those we delegate to, as well as ourselves.
John C. Maxwell included the following quote in the article:

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Improve them, and they will become the brightest gems.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Remember, you cannot replenish your time, once a moment is gone, it is gone.  As Steadman Graham said at one of our ActionCOACH conferences,

“Time is the great equalizer.  We all have 24 hours in a day.”

His message continued to say that the very wealthy use their time more effectively.  How are you investing your precious time?  My colleagues and I at ActionCOACH are uniquely qualified to assist you toward effective delegation and successful self and time management.

Highlights from My Vacation Reading

I took the first two weeks of August for a trip to Europe with my wife, Tammy.  Tammy joined one of Berkshire Choral International’s groups which rehearsed and sang in Budapest, Hungary.  While she was in rehearsals I toured Budapest and caught up on my reading, both business and pleasure.  Following are comments about and links to a few of the articles that struck a chord.
  • Jason Fried in the July/August 2017 issue of INC Magazine in an article headlined Starbucks Wasn’t Built in a Day, subtitled “Entrepreneurs are told to go big or go home. Stop obsessing over scale, and perfect the basics.”   In the article Jason talks about John who wishes to open a tea shop, but often drifted to talking about his next shop, and his next shop, etc.  He advises John to slow down and get the basics right before focusing on rapid growth.  I have long agreed with this philosophy.  While there is nothing wrong with having big long range goals, we emphasize long term planning at ActionCOACH, one needs not to get ahead of one’s self.  One of the major points of the ActionCOACH 5-Way Formula is that a business must be built in balance.  Before I joined ActionCOACH, I had several turn-around clients.  One in particular, a consumer goods company, had great marketing and product, but couldn’t reliably deliver their products to their customers, the retail stores.  Ultimately their customers abandoned them in favor of suppliers that had great product, marketed well and consistently delivered.  My client had grown their business out of balance, and could not cover the basics.
  • In the July 2017 issue of Golf Digest an article about confidence by Sam Weinman titled What If Everything You’ve Been Told To Think Is Wrong? caught my eye. Within the article are several concepts that apply equally to business as well as golf.  One very important concept was highlighted by a quote from Dr. Fran Pirozzolo, a sports psychologist and mental-skills coach “Confidence is a garbage term in that it induces illusions of competence.”  If in business, we confuse confidence with competence, our mind will be closed to our limitations and that will limit our ability to construct plans to overcome them.  It is the difference between an “I Know” attitude which cuts off learning and an “Isn’t that interesting” attitude which encourages learning.

Another concept applicable to business revolves around Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck’s division of our mind-sets into two categories:

– Fixed mind-set – people who seek validation of their abilities – Growth mind-set – people who believe their skills can be cultivated through effort

The final concept that jumped off the page also came from Dr. Pirozzolo – “Don’t believe the hype.”  During my career in the fashion industry, I was aware of countless fashion designers who crashed and burned because they believed the hype and were unable to adjust to changing market and business realities.

  • From the September 2017 issue of Success Magazine John C. Maxwell has an article about time management 4 Tips to Set Yourself Up for a Better Tomorrow Today.” The title of the article says it all.  In our TimeRICH seminar, we encourage the audience to be militant about their time.  Along the militant line, Maxwell’s article contains a great quote I intend to add to the TimeRICH presentation:

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Improve them, and they will become the brightest gems.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

These are just a few of the ideas I gleaned during my vacation reading, I hope you will find them useful.

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.

What Can We Learn About Business From My Granddaughter?

A few weeks ago my 20-month-old granddaughter suffered a broken pinky as the result of a stroller mishap.  A few days after the accident my son-in-law sent me this photo of my granddaughter multi-tasking. After admiring how cute she is in the photo, I started thinking about, of all things, business. Many “experts” have differing opinions about the effectiveness of multi-tasking, everything from it works, it is efficient, it is possible, to it doesn’t work, it is not efficient, it is impossible.  My experience convinces me that the effectiveness of multi-tasking is highly situational.  Multi-tasking is a subject onto itself, and not the primary take away from this photo. The primary business lesson to be gained from my granddaughter is about being adaptable.  We all need to be adaptable as to our investment of our time, our plans and our products or services. First, let’s address how we invest our time.  Think about it, how often during your business day do you find yourself working on items or tasks that were the furthest things from your mind at the beginning of the day?  I am willing to bet that even those of you who are very proficient at planning how you invest your time often find yourself off track at some point during your day, I know I do.  So if we are destined to have unplanned activities occupy anywhere from a few moments to major parts of our work day we must become time adaptable. How often have you read about a very successful company that became successful after its original business plan failed to yield the results it was seeking.  For example, the company we now know as Twitter was in fact founded as Odeo, a podcasting company.  When Apple launched iTunes podcasting, and made Odeo’s podcasting platform irrelevant, Evan Williams, CEO, Biz Stone and an Odeo employee named Jack Dorsey decided to create something called Twitter instead.  (Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/how-twitter-was-founded-2011-4#ixzz2lyym7wSj).  This turning point displays adaptability at its finest, snatching success from the jaws of failure.  Odeo was both plan and product adaptable. I could site many other examples of companies and owners being adaptable, and I am sure you can add more than a few to my list.  The point of this is really about having the attitude, mindset and culture that allows, supports and facilitates being adaptable.  When the inevitable challenges of day-to-day business arise, will you complain, display counterproductive behaviors or will you view them as opportunities to learn, outpace your less adaptable competitors and to ultimately succeed?  

ActionCOACH Global Conference BFO’s – Part 1

Here are a few things you can apply to improve your performance and the success of your business:
  1. Have the one primary goal you are working on up on your wall (and your coach’s wall), in front of you until it is accomplished.
  2. Many of us think about the new things we should start doing, few of us invest any time at all on identifying the things we need to stop doing.
  3. From Stedman Graham, the day one guest conference speaker:
    1. a.“Your business is only as good as you.” – If you want business to get better, you need to improve.
    2. “We all have 24 hours in each day … therefore we are all equal.” – How do you invest your 24 hours?
    3. Whenever you let someone define you, they will always define you as less than them. Take care with your reputation, first impressions and the promises you make.
  4. What do the 1% of the population who are extremely successful do that we can learn from:
    1. They have a strong WHY
    2. They operate Present-Future not Past-Present
    3. They are results driven
    4. They operate above the line – They take ownership, they are accountable and they take responsibility for their results
    5. They think and plan
    6. They have a belief in success
    7. They value their worth
    8. They have clarity of purpose
    9. They are congruent between their intention and their attention
    10. They continually grow and learn
  5. If you can’t see it, you can’t be it – have clarity of vision.
  Stay tuned, more to follow.