Are You Connecting The Dots?

While on my way back to New York, from the ActionCOACH 2011 North American Conference I was thinking about the speakers who presented and had an insight I wish to share with you. It was a great conference with a massive amount of learning, insights, BFOs (Blinding Flashes of the Obvious), collaboration and fun. I will share some new strategies and BFOs in subsequent blog posts. There were many top-notch people on stage at the conference, most of whom, including Brad Sugars himself, I noticed, repeated their key points more than once. That repetition started me wondering why these very polished, engaging speakers, and many other speakers I’ve seen, some very well known, used this technique. Do they think we are slow learners? Not listening? That we can’t discern major points from minor points? Don’t get me wrong, the speakers did not repeat themselves word for word. They rephrased, one, two and sometimes as many as four or five times. They kept making their point over and over again with sometimes subtly different language, sometimes very different language. So while sitting here on my flight I had what I think is a very useful BFO, namely that these speakers were making sure to connect the dots for us. Now you may be thinking, so what, I don’t speak in public. I don’t make speeches to large groups of people, or even small intimate groups. So why is this important to me and my business? I want you to think back to sales meetings you have been in. How many times were you surprised by the seemingly off-the-mark questions or reactions that followed your well prepared presentation and handouts? Was your audience not paying attention? Were they asleep? On the other hand, how many times were you the recipient of a presentation that you misinterpreted, causing the presenter no small amount of frustration? Both of these situations, as presenter or presentee, are the result of a failure by the presenter to connect the dots. So what is the point? If you don’t connect the dots, your audience will connect them for you, and will very often miss or mangle your message. It is well known that different people absorb information in different ways. That is why these very effective speakers repeat the main points of their message several times using different languaging. This applies to every communication mode you use, your spoken presentations, your brochures, your white papers, your sales materials, your blog posts, your YouTube videos, everything. Repeat yourself, or in the appropriate situation, raise questions that will help you verify that your message arrived as you intended. It is all about reducing the chance that your key points will be missed and your goals harder to achieve. Remember, Communication is the response you get!

Creating Raving Fans – Define Customer Value

Recently I was at a presentation about creating raving fan customers. After mentioning that he is a raving fan of a rather unsuccessful local major league baseball team, the speaker asked the audience – who wanted customers that identified with their business the same way that raving fans dedicate themselves to their favorite teams? That question got me thinking about how a sports team with a multi-season losing record can earn and keep their extremely loyal fans. My conclusion is that, just like all businesses, the definition of the product of a sports team goes way beyond the obvious. In addition to win/lose record, their product includes: · Their history · Their records · Their players · Their managers and coaches · Their venue · Their customer service department (ticketing) · Their uniforms · The food and other amenities available at their venue · The overall atmosphere at their venue · And much, much more. The point is – are you on top of the complete definition of your product? Here is a hint; the definition of your product includes a lot of intangibles that reflect what your customers (clients, patients, team, vendors, etc.) value about their experience with your business, not simply the physical product or service you deliver. If you don’t know what your audiences value about your products or services, one way to find out is to ask them.  Many of their replies will surprise you.

A Great Business Quote From Ralph Nader

The Quote:

“The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.”

Which, of course leads to the question you should be asking yourself; Am I, and the systems in my business, division or area of responsibility focused on developing leaders?  If not, why not? Great, effective and admired leaders will tell you that one of the most gratifying aspects of leadership is developing and mentoring leaders.  Don’t know how to begin? Two good places to start are The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential by John C. Maxwell, and Instant Systems by Bradley Sugars, the founder of ActionCOACH.  After you read, talk with your mentor, advisor or coach to map out and follow your path to true leadership.

Become a subject expert on LinkedIn

When you answer specific questions under the Answers tab in LinkedIn, other users vote on your answers.  Given enough positive votes/comments, you can become an expert in the subject. Be careful to be subject selective and focused.

Great Quote From Jack Nicklaus

I was reading GolfWorld magazine the other day and saw the following quote from The Greatest Game of All: My Life In Golf by Jack Nicklaus and Herbert Warren Wind:
“How do slumps begin?  They begin from neglect, and neglect finally leads to a loss of confidence.  You can practice a lot but still be neglectful – neglectful of the fundamentals.  During a long stretch of poor golf I suffered through in the winter and spring of 1967, I tried to rouse my game by attempting to bring off increasingly complicated shots.  What I should have done was to back up, return to the fundamentals, and get one thing at a time under control.”
You might ask what this quote about golf has to do with business, but to me this speaks volumes about business.  When working on turnarounds before I joined ActionCOACH, I saw first-hand how much trouble a business can get into by ignoring the fundamentals and how troubles were magnified when those businesses tried to hit home runs to get out of trouble. Heroic measures rarely work.  Returning to fundamentals, returning to Action’s 5 Ways and 6 Steps will provide a solid foundation for any business to build (or rebuild) upon. If you are facing or are in a slump, return to business fundamentals.  Actually, even if your business is currently booming, never lose sight of the basics if you want to achieve long term success.

What, exactly is a business coach?

While on the golf course yesterday, one of my playing partners asked “What the heck is a business coach?”  He told me he had never heard of business coaching.  It turns out that I get this question a lot, so here is my answer:
  1. A Business Coach is an EDUCATOR – we identify our client’s business blind spots (we all have them) and educate them on things about business they didn’t know they didn’t know.
  2. Once we identify a business blind spot, we work with our client to prepare them to increase their knowledge so that they can either embrace new areas, or effectively delegate to their team.
  3. The subjects we deal in are, for the most part, the fundamentals of business upon which all successful businesses are built.
Before I was able to get to my final point, my playing partner asked “Isn’t coaching and consulting the same?”  That is a perfect lead in to the most important difference between consulting and coaching, and the primary factor that makes business coaching extremely effective:
  • Accountability – Just like a sports coach, we stand side by side with our clients to insure they use the education and stay focused on achieving their business goals.

What is a Coach ?

A business coach is just like a sporting coach. A sporting coach pushes an athlete to achieve optimum performance, provides support when they are exhausted and teaches the athlete to execute plays that their competition does not anticipate. A sporting coach will make you run more laps than you feel like. A sporting coach will tell it like it is. And a sporting coach will listen. The role of the business coach is to coach business owners to improve their business through guidance, support and encouragement. They help the owners of small and medium sized businesses with their sales, marketing, management, team building and so much more. Just like a sporting coach, your business coach will make you focus on the game . The owners of small to medium sized businesses find it hard enough to keep up the pace with all of the changes and innovations going on in today’s modern world, let alone to find the time to devote to sales, marketing, systems, planning and team management, and then to run their businesses as well! As the world of business moves faster and becomes more competitive, having a business coach is no longer a luxury; it has become a necessity.  Based on the sales, marketing and business management systems created by Brad Sugars, your ActionCOACH is trained to not only show you how to increase your business revenues and profits, but also how to develop your business so that you as the owner can work less and relax more. Your ActionCOACH will become your marketing manager, your sales director, your training co-ordinator; your confidant, your mentor. Your ActionCOACH will help you make your dreams come true …