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.

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.

A Survey Shows a BIG Disconnect

My local business weekly newspaper published the results of a July 2014 Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of 603 small business owners.  The survey asked the respondents to list the single biggest business challenge they currently face.  In looking at the survey results, I found a couple of concerns that are counter to some core ActionCOACH concepts.  Here are the survey results:

CHALLENGE                                        %

  • Attracting Customers                               13
  • Government Regulations                         11
  • Financial Stability / Cash Flow               11
  • The Economy                                              11
  • Government (general) / Taxes                10
  • Hiring Qualified Staff                                  7
  • Product Improvements / Updates            6
  • Healthcare / Obama Care                           6
  • Competition with Larger Corporations    6
  • Cost of Running Business                           5
  • Credit Availability                                         4
  • Marketing / Advertising                              4
  • Nothing / No Challenge                               2
  • Seasonal Issues                                              1
  • Employee Benefits                                        1
  • Don’t Know                                                     1
  • Other                                                                1                                             TOTAL       100%
  First of all, nearly one third (32%) of the owners are challenged by exactly the same issues (Government Regulations, The Economy and Taxes) that their competitors are faced with.  At ActionCOACH we advise our clients and aspire to live “above the line” of choice, taking Ownership/being Accountable/being Responsible for our results, rather than being “below the line”, Blaming others/making Excuses/being in Denial.  (For additional information about above/below the line, visit ozprinciple.com and/or read or listen to The OZ Principle by Roger Connors and Tom Smith and Craig Hickman).  Regulations, The Economy and Taxes are not challenges to the business owners who operate above the line and refuse to make excuses for their less than stellar results and treat these issues as opportunities to outpace their competitors. The BIG Disconnect I found within the survey results is the 9 percentage point difference between the top challenge, Attracting Customers (13%) and Marketing / Advertising (4%).  This gap demonstrates one of the top issues my colleagues and I find at our prospects and new clients, namely not viewing marketing as an investment aimed at “buying” customers.  It seems that everyone wants more customers, but do not have a realistic attitude about marketing.  It always amazes me how many business owners I meet who believe that simply having a better mousetrap and opening their doors will attract customers.  Today’s market environment is both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing due to the greater opportunities to cost effectively reach very large audiences with our marketing messages.  It is a curse due to the tremendous amount of “noise” that there is out in the marketplace.  Our clients who view marketing as an investment, who therefore, establish proper and useful metrics, and are prepared to respond to what their metrics tell them, consistently outperform their rivals. If you are not pleased with the number of customers/clients/patients you have, I suggest that you contact me or one of my ActionCOACH colleagues before you contact a marketing consultant.  If you build the proper foundation and expectations, your marketing will be much more effective when you begin your next marketing campaign.