Mentors: Because they’ve been there and done that!

Do you need a mentors? If you’re navigating tricky new territory in the marketplace, chances are that your mentor has probably had to navigate a similar situation at some point in their past. They can share their advice on how best to maneuver through a challenging situation, and lessons they’ve learned through similar experiences from their past.

A Mentor’s Role

A mentor’s primary role is to provide you with counsel in the execution of your responsibilities. A business owner or CEO’s job is all about doing the right things and doing them effectively. A mentor’s job is to ensure that you focus on the most important aspects of the job, and that you do them well.

Justin Norman CEO of JD Norman Industries started a manufacturing business without any operating experience before. To compensate for his lack of experience Justin developed relationships with mentors with either sitting CEOs or retired CEOs who are in a phase of their life where they enjoy mentoring and answering questions. Norman explains, “The stuff that I’ve seen for the first time in my life others have seen it 7 times before. So I’ve gained a lot of insight from that because it’s clearly a blind spot of mine going through the growth and the operations of the company for the first time.”

Mentors can also help you set career and personal goals, hold you accountable, expand your network of contacts and provide insights into the “little things” that can make a big difference in growing your business and in developing your leadership skills.

How to Choose a Mentors

When selecting mentors you should choose a mentor who is working or worked in a similar industry as yours. Your mentor should be someone who inspires you with the success of their career and whose professional achievements you hope to emulate. Because they’ve learned a lot and developed many skills in their career, they’ll be able to guide you towards the best ways to learn the skills you’ll need to achieve similar success.

Is a Best-Selling Book in Your Future?

Have you thought about what writing a Best-Selling Book would do for you and your business?

To begin with, everyone has a unique story to tell. Why not transform that story into a Best-Selling Book? Imagine how your business would change if you had a Best-Selling Book, designed to make you the “go to” authority in your field. Because you’re a Best-Selling Author clients would seek you out because you literally “wrote the book” about solving their problem and eliminating their pain.

What’s your excuse for not writing a Best-Selling Book?

Most fitness professional have “thought” about writing a book. But they never do it for several reasons, including:

  • I don’t have time
  • I lack the technical background
  • I’m not a writer
  • I don’t know what to write about
  • I don’t know how to market it
  • I don’t know a publisher

What’s your excuse? As Ryan Blaire says, “If it’s important you’ll find a way, if not you’ll find an excuse”.

Welcome to the Sea of Sameness?

To begin with, Let’s be brutally honest. If you don’t stand out in the sea of sameness, you’ll never reach your full business success. Why? Because when prospects are ready to buy, you will be compared to your competitors. Even referrals educate themselves by visiting many websites and compare offerings, prices. What they typically see are several similar websites, all offering similar products or services, personal trainers with multiple certifications after their name with little or no differences. How do prospects know who to select? How many clients or patients are you losing every month because you are not differentiating from your competitors and giving your prospects a reason to pick you?

Finally, THE BEST WAY to quickly leave the sea of sameness is to: 1) Get interviewed, 2) Get promoted in the news, and 3) Get published and 4) Have it become a Best-Selling book. That’s what I do! I’m looking for guests for my podcast, Never Too Late for Fitness Radio. Message me and let’s talk about how you can become a Best-Selling author in as little as 60 days.

Leverage Authority: 25 Ways to Get the Most From a Media Interview

Do you want to leverage authority from a radio interview?

Many small businesses and professionals make the big mistake by thinking the interview is the end game, when it’s just the beginning. Leveraging your authority is where the real magic happens.

If your goal is to use the interview to help build your business, then you’ll have to do some work. Why? Because most podcasts and online radio shows don’t have the viewers to make anyone an overnight sensation like Oprah and the Tonight Show used to do. Therefore, you need to look at the interview differently.

Content and Leverage Authority

The first thing you’ll need to realize is that the interview has two specific objectives. The content from the interview helps you deliver your message to your prospective clients. The second objective is to use the interview to build your authority in your market with your prospective clients. This second objective is more important to your business success because far more people can discover that you were interviewed than will ever listen to the actual interview. Does this mean the interview isn’t important? No. It is important. But it’s a lot easier to leverage authority for being interviewed than it is to get people to take the time to listen to the interview.

Leverage Authority with Social Media

With social media, it’s possible to let hundreds or even thousands of very targeted prospects to know about your interview. Every person who views a post, tweet, share etc. has the potential to listen to the interview, like it, share it and comment on it. To those people, you are the authority on the interview subject. You positioned yourself in those people’s mind above your competition. You now have a competitive advantage that you can leverage.

An example of leveraging authority is comedians. Clubs promote comedians by their most popular gigs, like, “as seen on Comedy Central”. Even if people haven’t ever heard of comedians, people assume they are funny because of the shows they’ve been on.

Take a moment to imagine that you were just interviewed on the Tonight Show. How many people would you want to know about it? EVERYBODY! You should treat every interview and media exposure to leverage authority to separate you from the competition and position yourself as the go to person in your market and business niche.

Podcasts are Evergreen

Another point to remember is that podcasts are evergreen. This means that once published, they are online forever. You can mine their impact over time by using different social media platforms and changing how you package the announcement. For example, you can use personalized podcast cover art with the first announcement, a screenshot of one of your media releases about your appearance on a show for the second announcement, a direct link to the podcast site on your third announcement, and a personal request to “check it out” in your fourth announcement. If you are creative, persistent and consistent your authority and top of mind awareness will grow.

25 Actions to Leverage Authority

Here are specific actions you can take to leverage your authority and distance yourself from the competition:

  1. Post it on the media page of your website. If you don’t have one create it.
  2. Post it on up to 10 other social media channels.
  3. Transcribe it and make it part or a whole book chapter….
  4. Transcribe the interview and turn into a series of blog posts.
  5. Load the interview onto a DVD and use as a shock and awe package or new client welcome package.
  6. Use it as a demo tape and send out for possible local speaking engagements.
  7. Email an announcement about the interview to your clients and include a link to interview.
  8. Upload the interview to Your Tube channel.
  9. Make it a part of a webinar.
  10. Become a published author by using a series of interviews as chapters in an Amazon book and then run a Best Seller Campaign.
  11. Upload transcription onto LinkedIn and use it as a pulse article.
  12. Send it as a demo disc to local radio and TV stations as part of your pitch to book interviews.
  13. Upload the interview on FB with picture of you and the host.
  14. Create a social media “I was just interviewed on…” graphic you can post on various platforms.
  15. Use excerpts from interview as content for your newsletter.
  16. Tweet a key point with a link to the interview.
  17. Write an informational media release containing 3-4 points you made in your interview and submit it to a press release system that syndicates it to affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, etc. Then you can add something like this to your website and marketing materials:
  18. Submit transcription as an article to online news magazines like Business Innovators Magazine.
  19. Submit links to the interview as part of your pitch get interviews on other pod casts.
  20. Like, comment and share on all social media platforms and ask friends and client to do the same. Be sure to give them a reason to do so. You might say, “If you want to learn some great strategies about losing stubborn belly fat, listen to the interview I gave on…”
  21. Include “as featured on … radio show” in your bio and social media profiles.
  22. Create social media graphics using quotes from your interview or provocative questions. Include a link to the interview.
  23. Write blog posts with quotes from the interview and a link to it.
  24. Include a summary of the interview and a link to it as part of your marketing materials.
  25. Like, comment, tweet, share and follow everyone who likes your posts. Build a following by following others.

Remember, the most effective formula to leverage your authority is to 1) Get interviewed, 2) Get promoted in the news, and 3) Get published. That’s what I do! I’m looking for guests for my podcasts, Business Innovators Radio and Never Too Late for Fitness Radio. Message me if interested and I’ll send you all the details. Isn’t it time you leveraged your authority to stand out from the crowd?

How to Avoid Leading in the State of Denial

Leading in the state of denial is the biggest cause of business failure in the New Economy. Why!

The NewGlobal Economy

How to Avoid Leading in the State of Denial

Because the business owner never saw failure coming. They zigged when the market zagged. The warning signs were there they just didn’t see them. Are you leading in the state of denial?

In the New Economy you can’t afford to lead by looking in the rear view mirror and doing more of what you’ve always done. (How did that work for Kodak, RIM, and Hostess to name a few?) Instead stay focused on your vision and the road ahead. As a business owner you must leave the state of denial and wake up to the reality it’s not going to be business as usual…even if it may seem like it now. Shift happens and things can change in a hurry.

One of the biggest challenges many CEOs and business owners face is that there is no one to answer to. There is no boss or supervisor looking over their shoulder to make sure they have followed through. There is no one pushing them to set higher goals and take action to attain those goals. It’s lonely at the top. That’s why many successful leaders turn to outside resources to help them manage their way. Whether it’s stalled growth or translating their strategy into an operating plan, they have challenges related to their role as the company’s leader – challenges that cannot be delegated to a member of your management team.

Leaders have Blind Spots

The harsh reality all leaders have blind spots and in most small to mid-size companies the management team often doesn’t have the time or the expertise to uncover the root cause of a problem and/or to devise and implement a viable solution.

Steve Hennegan, President and CEO of San Antonio Credit Union had this to say about blind spots; “I’ve learned all my blind spots that I knew at the time. I’ve also learned that I’m always going to have new ones. I would just say this is: “I don’t know where my blind spots are, that’s why they’re called blind spots. I can tell you some of the ones that got me in the past. I can also say that, in each role that I’ve taken and the variety of roles that I’ve had getting up to this point, I uncovered blind spots at that point that I didn’t know I had and I wouldn’t have actually seen it until I got in that situation.”

The key here is admitting that you can’t do it all by yourself and that they don’t give prizes for reinventing the wheel. Find and hire outside resources that can give you the insights to move you’re your current limitations. Once you’ve made this decision, you need to decide what type of resource best compliments your leadership and your management team. The most commonly used approaches are:
• Mentors
• Coaches
• Consultants
• Advisory Board
• Peer Advisory Groups
• Mastermind Groups

Let’s examine each one.

Mentors

If you’re navigating tricky new territory in the marketplace, chances are that your mentor has probably had to navigate a similar situation at some point in their past. They can share their advice on how best to maneuver through a challenging situation, and lessons they’ve learned through similar experiences from their past.

A mentor’s primary role is to provide you with counsel in the execution of your responsibilities. A business owner or CEO’s job is all about doing the right things and doing them effectively. A mentor’s job is to ensure that you focus on the most important aspects of the job, and that you do them well.

Justin Norman CEO of JD Norman Industries started a manufacturing business without any operating experience before. To compensate for his lack of experience Justin developed relationships with mentors with either sitting CEOs or retired CEOs who are in a phase of their life where they enjoy mentoring and answering questions. Norman explains, “The stuff that I’ve seen for the first time in my life others have seen it 7 times before. So I’ve gained a lot of insight from that because it’s clearly a blind spot of mine going through the growth and the operations of the company for the first time.”

Mentors can also help you set career and personal goals, hold you accountable, expand your network of contacts and provide insights into the “little things” that can make a big difference in growing your business and in developing your leadership skills.

When selecting mentors you should choose a mentor who is working or worked in a similar industry as yours. Your mentor should be someone who inspires you with the success of their career and whose professional achievements you hope to emulate. Because they’ve learned a lot and developed many skills in their career, they’ll be able to guide you towards the best ways to learn the skills you’ll need to achieve similar success.

Coaching and Consulting

“Coaching” and “consulting” are often confused. Both coaching and consulting involve a skilled professional that assists a client in achieving his or her goals. The differences lie in how they support the client. A coach usually works one-on-one with a client to facilitate personal or professional change. The coach listens, give feedback, asks questions, and holds the client accountable. At the end of the day, it’s the client who does all the work implementing the plan of action.

Companies hire consultants to access a capability or expertise not available within the company. They are also brought in to give an outside, objective perspective on an existing problem. Consultant’s role can vary considerably. Depending on the contracted work, consultants can provide analysis on a specific problem, offer advice, make recommendations, teach new skills or develop an action plan. Sometimes, the consultant may implement the solution for the company or find and manage outside contractors to complete the work.

John Foley, CEO Grow Socially and Interlink ONE

used a consultant to help build a critical system for his business. “We’re not a very process oriented organization. When we bring a new customer or project on and we assign different employees to it, we don’t do that very well. So for us to get to the next level we need to build a system for how we run projects. We need everyone, not just management, to understand how we run projects through the company. That was my blind spot and I needed some help with getting that done. So we brought in a consultant here to help build our Knowledge Management System and to make sure we have our processes in place.” Having the system in place allowed John and his staff to, “start working on our business versus in the business.”

Which is best for your company a coach or consultant? The answer depends on what your goal is. If you have a specific business-related problem and don’t have the required skills or capacity to fix it, hiring a consultant is your best bet. If you have high-level goals such as deciding on the direction to take your company, how to lead or facilitate change, developing your leadership skills or how to maintain work-life balance, you might consider hiring a coach.

Advisory Boards

Advisory boards are different from boards of directors because they don’t have a vote, legal say or other control over your business decisions. Their role is to offer advice and recommendations. The most effective advisory boards are comprised of people who bring talent that covers the classic business spectrum of human resources, marketing, operations, administration, legal, finance and in some cases, technology.

The selection of advisory board members should be based on what your greatest needs are and to supplement the resources on your management team. For instance, if the management team is strong in sales and engineering, you might look to fill the board with people with human resources, technology and marketing backgrounds. Some business owners like having a business peer in a non-competing industry serve on their board to give “pragmatic” perspective.
Boards of this nature generally are most effective if they meet with regularly, like quarterly. They usually aren’t expected to do significant work on the business between meetings.
Because board members are professional they should be compensated for their time. Compensation for advisory board members is generally in the range of $150 to $300 per hour for meeting time.

One of the biggest benefits of having an advisory board is the impact the advisory board meeting has on a Company’s management team. The upcoming meeting often serves as a rallying point to bring the management team’s planning efforts into focus because CEO’s and business owners often have their management team make formal presentations to the board. These presentations add new perspectives and add a level of accountability.

Merissa Levin CEO of Information Experts and Successful Culture uses an Advisory Board for guidance and accountability. Levin explains, “I have an Advisory Board and the thing about an Advisory Board is that it doesn’t just stop with the CEO. Smart companies use their Advisory Board as education and mentorship and coaching for the rest of their company. Our Advisory Board is very integrated into our organization and their relationship doesn’t just stop with me.”

Peer Group Advisory Groups

A Peer Advisory Group serves as a reciprocal advisory board. It allows its members to have a team of advisers who are invested in achieving group goals without the fiduciary liability or governance authority associated with a corporate board.

Peer advisory groups are typically made up of eight to ten CEOs or business owners who are not direct competitors and don’t have a conflict of interest. Their purpose is to help group members overcome the problems and issues that most companies face. Most peer advisory groups meet quarterly or semiannually, although a few, meet monthly. Much depends on the proximity of the members and the length of the meetings. The groups that meet less frequently usually have periodic conference calls between face-to-face meetings and password protected websites for online interactions. The following are just a few of the advantages a peer group can offer:
• Management team members frequently view issues from the same vantage point, even if they don’t think alike. Plus, some issues never get discussed because of potential risk and a desire to maintain harmony. This creates blind spots and limits objectivity.

• Owners and CEOs need a sounding board for their ideas. They want to make sure that they haven’t missed anything and that their plan is sound.
• Peer advisory groups can provide feedback on plans and ideas, explore “what if” questions, and provide greater insight and objectivity.
• Within a group, people will have different talents and experiences. Peer groups can be an effective way to overcome weaknesses and complement strengths.
• Succeeding in the new economy requires both vision and candid insights. Peer advisory groups can help executives step away from the day-to-day routine long enough to focus on the big picture.
• When you are managing a growing business, your friends and family may not understand the issues you face. However, every business owner and CEO in a peer group has the same sense of isolation and can offer support and understanding in a way that no one else can.
• Peer advisory groups can provide access to the collective membership’s network of contacts, sources of information, resources, and expertise. The expanded network can also help in identifying new markets, supply sources, potential employees, and business opportunities..

The first prerequisite to a peer advisory group’s success is a commitment to openness, trust, confidentiality, and mutual respect for each other’s ideas, opinions, and suggestions, even if everyone doesn’t agree with them. The group’s real value occurs because people don’t see things the same way or think alike. Keep in mind that it’s often the things you don’t want to hear that you need to hear most.

To be successful, peer advisory groups need:
• Ground rules
• Planned agendas to keep discussions on target and for everyone’s benefit
• Members who are able to both give and take. People who can’t accept criticism or who can’t admit they are wrong are not good candidates. The same is true for people who only take and don’t contribute.
• Procedures for removing members when there isn’t the right fit or chemistry. It’s best to get everyone’s agreement up front so you can have an amicable separation.
• A confidentiality agreement, so that all members, even those who leave the group, are professional enough to respect the rights of the other members.
• A clearly defined objective or purpose.
• In almost every case, a peer advisory group is led by a professional facilitator who functions as a mediator between participants.

Like marriages, partnerships, and business mergers, a match that looks great on the surface doesn’t always work. The right chemistry and a common vision and values are critical. You won’t really know until you start working together. With anything new, there is always a learning curve. Sometimes you have to recognize that you have the right idea but the wrong people and start over or change the makeup of the group.

To gain a better understanding of and appreciation for individual differences, many groups use personality inventory tests such as Myers-Briggs, Reiss Profile or the DISC. Using instruments like these helps to improve communication and working relationships while facilitating more effective group interaction.
There are several organizations that create and manage peer advisory groups including:
CEO Focus
Vistage

Mastermind Groups

The concept of the “mastermind alliance” was formally introduced by Napoleon Hill in his timeless classic, “Think and Grow Rich,” though mastermind groups have been around since the beginning of time.
Napoleon Hill wrote about the mastermind group principle as:
“The coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.”
He continues…
“No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind [the master mind].”

Mastermind groups provide business owners and CEOs a combination of brainstorming, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen their business and personal skills. A mastermind group helps both you and your mastermind group members achieve success.

When you’re in a mastermind group participants challenge each other to set important goals, and more importantly, to accomplish them. The group requires commitment, confidentiality, willingness to be creative and brainstorm ideas/solutions. You also need to support each other with total honesty, respect and compassion. Mastermind group members act as catalysts for growth; they play devil’s advocates and provide emotional support for their colleagues.

In a mastermind group, the agenda belongs to the group and each person must be committed to their own success. Your mastermind partners give you feedback, help you brainstorm new possibilities, and set up accountability structures that keep you focused and on track. You create a community of supportive colleagues who brainstorm together to move the members to new heights.

A mastermind group is similar to a peer advisory group but mastermind groups tend to be less formal with the focus being more on setting and achieving goals. There are several types of mastermind groups including:
• Virtual or in person (or a combination)
• Group led or facilitated
• Paid or free
• Industry based or interest based
• Small (3 people)or large (100+)
• Ongoing or one time only (before or after an event or conference)

Mastermind groups can provide motivation, inspiration and accountability. They can also be a drain on your time and energy. The key is to make sure that the group’s purpose, values and expectations are aligned with yours. If a group isn’t the right fit for you and your business disengage quickly and professionally.

Don’t join if you’re not willing to support your group members the way you want to be supported. You’ll get what you give in most mastermind groups.

Which outside resources is best for you?

The answer to that question is: it depends. It depends on your needs, resources, time availability and personality. Many CEOs use multiple outside resources. Melissa Levin of Successful Culture and Information Experts uses advisory boards, coaches and belongs to a mastermind group.

 

The New Economy: How is it Treating Your Business?

How is the New Economy treating your business?

If you own or run a business today you know we’re experiencing an economy that is different than anyone has seen in the past. It is five years since we went through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The Great Recession brought us the New Economy

Now called the Great Recession, we saw:
• The loss of 8.7 million jobs
• More than half of adults lost a job, took a pay cut or had hours reduced
• Trillions of dollars of wealth was lost where almost everyone was touched
• Home values dropped dramatically nationwide, at one point 11 million homeowners were upside down on their mortgage and tens of thousands lost their homes
• The United States weren’t the only country impacted by the economic crisis. Financial uncertainty was repentant in Europe as nine countries saw their standard and Poor’s credit rating downgrade in 2012

We’re still in”Recovery”
In spite of numerous efforts by the government to help the battered economy get back on its feet, the “recovery” is still a work in progress. While some business sectors and regions of the country have found their footing, others are still digging themselves out of a hole.
Here is a glimpse of economic indicators that give both hope and provide continued warning signs:
• We’ve regained the 8.7 million jobs that were lost but many were replaced with jobs that pay less sometime much less. Manufacturing and construction jobs that pay around $25 an hour have been “replaced” with retail and restaurant jobs where pay is $12-16.96.
• Unemployment has dropped from nearly 10% to 6.4% in May 2014. Unfortunately the plight of the long term unemployed continues to worsen. 3.4 million Americans have been out of work for more than 6 months. This is two and a half times what is was pre-recession. Many who have found work did so with part time jobs or short term jobs. While many others have simply left the labor market and stopped seeking employment.
• College graduates are feeling the strain of the economy as unemployment among recent college graduates is still above the national average at 7.6%.
• Compounding the challenges recent graduates face looking for work is their mounting student loan debt. In the last ten years this number has grown from $260 billion to 1.1 trillion. The average student graduates with about $30,000 in debt. Many predict this to be the next “bubble” to send shock wave to our economy.
• Although the housing market is improving most metro areas find their home prices 65-80% of their peak value. The $2 trillion equity value lost may never be recovered.
• Household net worth increased to a record high of $81.7 trillion. That’s the good news. The bad news is only the very wealthy benefited. The rich got richer and everyone else got poorer.
• “Small business optimism continues its winter hibernation with the latest Index dropping 2.7 points to 91.4, a reading that historically has been associated with recessions and periods of sub-par growth. The one highlight in the January (2014) survey, a surge in hiring plans, was crushed in February by the continued onslaught of a wintry recovery now in its 5th year.” – Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB Chief Economist
• The US is still the global economic leader and is moving along better than much of the world especially debt-ridden Europe and ever- stagnant Japan. However, our growth is only moving at a 2-3% pace.
• Picking up the United States lack of growth has been China. They’ve been growing at a 9.5-10% rate over the past few years. This number is trending downward this year as economists forecast growth at 7.5%. As China’s role in the global economy continues to grow (They are now the world’s biggest trader of goods), every economic bump they experience will be felt everywhere.

Silver linings in the New Economy
In spite of these challenges many industries and companies large and small are experiencing record growth and profit. For example:
• After stumbling badly in 2011, Netflix found success as a non-network by offering original television programming. Their subscribers exceeded 40 million and quarterly earning quadrupled.
• Entertainer Beyoncé turned traditional album marketing on its ear by releasing an iTunes exclusive album in the dead of night with no promotion. Its success was unprecedented. In a social media world, free publicity is the best kind of publicity, and the combination of surprise and artificial scarcity was a great way to get people to actually open their wallets for content.
• AMP Americas is a Chicago-based company that makes compressed natural gas. While the alternative fuel market already has plenty of innovative business models,” this one truly stands out: Its fuel is converted from cow manure.
• Lexington, N.C.-based Lolly Wolly Doodle, earns more than $10 million in annual revenue. Two factors lie at the heart of their success: an innovative manufacturing approach known as “just-in-time” manufacturing and a commitment to social commerce. Lolly Wolly Doodle currently does 60 percent of its sales through Facebook and the remainder through its website.
Why are companies like RadioShack, Pennies, RIM and many others seem to be moving from one crisis to another while others find the opportunity that leads them down the path of success?

Let me know about your experience with the New Economy.

Rating Systems: Do they Improve Performance?

Rating systems have been relied upon for years to improve performance. Often times a person’s career, pay raise or job is in the balance.

How effective is your performance management rating system?

A  study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology sheds a not too flattering light on rating systems and what they really measure.

“The most comprehensive research on what ratings actually measure was conducted by professors Mount, Scullen, and Goff. In their study, 4,492 individuals were rated on a number of different performance dimensions by two bosses, two peers and two subordinates, who combined to produce almost half a million ratings. The researchers then analyzed these ratings and discovered that 54% of the variance in the ratings could be accounted for by “idiosyncratic rater effects”—namely the peculiarities of each individual rater’s perception. Only 21% of the variance in ratings could be explained by the ratee’s actual performance. All of which led the researchers to the following conclusion:

“Although it is implicitly assumed that the ratings measure the performance of the ratee, most of what is being measured by the ratings is the unique rating tendencies of the rater. Thus ratings reveal more about the rater than they do about the ratee.”

Scullen, S., Mount, M., & Goff, M. (2000). Understanding the latent structure of job performance ratings. J Appl Psychol., 85(6), 956–70.

What’s your experience been with rating systems in your organization? Do you feel they are worth the time and effort?

Are You Ready for VUCA?

TooManyChoicesVUCA best describes the business environment that has become the new global economy. The recession has given way to a slow and struggling recovery in the U.S. while Europe is facing a depression and economies around the globe are finding themselves in uncertain terrain.

V.U.C.A. (pronounced voo – ka) is an acronym developed by the military to describe an environment that is dominated by:

  • Volatility – The nature, speed, volume, magnitude and dynamics of change;
  • Uncertainty – The lack of predictability of issues and events;
  • Complexity – The confounding of issues and the chaos that surround any organization; and
  • Ambiguity – The haziness of reality and the mixed meanings of conditions. CEOs are struggling with how best to lead

Because they were designed for more predictable times, business models and business planning processes fail to perform well in this chaotic environment. This is because in a VUCA environment change happens more frequently, more unpredictably and with enough size to makes them “disruptive.” So the question for business leaders becomes, “how do you effectively grow sales, profits and customer loyalty in an unpredictable environment where literally everything changes in months rather than years?” Since you can’t avoid VUCA you must understand it and develop skills that will help your company adapt to the chaos it produces.

In a VUCA economy change is a constant. As markets and customers become less predictable businesses must vigilantly watch the landscape. Trends start quickly and can develop overnight bringing with it either great threats or tremendous opportunities. This often leads to shorter life cycles of products and services. With shorter life cycles market leadership is short-lived , as is the opportunity to mine the profit potential of the leadership position. Being the market leader in the past, meant years of market domination (think about IBM, Kodak, Nokia, Sears and Polaroid). In the New Economy market leadership is often measured in months.  The key to success is how quickly and effectively you can recognize and respond to market trends.

Leaders must dramatically modify or stop doing the following things to prepare for a VUCA environment.

  • Stop seeking permanent solutions to existing problems
  • Stop relying on the past and trends as an accurate predictor of the future
  • Stop assuming that long-term market leadership is possible without major innovations
  • Stop assuming that the strategies and people who got you here will get you to the next level
  • Stop assuming that the corporate culture and corporate values will remain the same

What are you doing to prepare your company to function in a VUCA marketplace?

37 Tips to Succeed from Pat Rigsby

Want great tips to succeed in your business or anything worthwhile in your life? Pat Rigsby, a recognized leader in ttips to succeedhe fitness industry, provides 37 great tips to succeed. They are practical and actionable. Most you probably have heard before. I invite you to read, reflect and take action on everyone that hits home for you.
Also, if you have additional tips to succeed that Pat foregot please add it to the list along with your comments.

 37 Tips to Succeed

 1. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

2. Be early…on time is tolerable. Late is never acceptable.

3. Do what you say you’re going to do. Try to do more. Never do less.

4. Focus on what you can control.

5. Learn from the experiences of other – not just your own.

6. Live your life like most people do and you’re going to settle for what most people get.

7. ‘Trying’ isn’t enough. It’s an excuse. Either you’re doing something or you’re not.

8. You never fail until you quit, make excuses or die.

9. If you want to achieve something write it down.

10. Make your goals specific and measurable. The more specific you are, the more quickly you’ll be able to achieve them.

11. Plan every day. Success isn’t an accident.

12. Write out tomorrow’s plan the night before and review it throughout the course of the day.

13. If you want your training business to be more successful – apply the 80/20 Principle.

14. Discipline yourself…focus your energy, thoughts and actions on the task at hand and eliminate useless distractions.

15. Schedule everything. Personal time too. Why wouldn’t that be as important as an appointment with a client?

16. Outsource, delegate or eliminate things that provide a low return on your time in your personal training business.

17. Take control of your time. Just because the phone rings, there’s a knock at the door, an email enters your inbox or someone instant messages you doesn’t mean you have to immediately give them your time.

18.Tell the truth. There’s no such thing as a good liar.

19. Listen more than you talk.

20. Accept that there is no ‘Get Rich Quick’ solution and that the only shortcuts are working smart, working hard and learning from others mistakes.

21. It’s not only about you. Help others get what they want and you’ll get what you want. Be a problem solver.

22. Be nice. Genuinely care about others’ success and happiness.

23. Surround yourself with successful people.

24. Make every interaction a Win/Win.

25. Focus on getting 1% better each day. Small improvements add up.

26. Sell people what they want. Give them what they need.

27. Mean what you say.

28. Take responsibility. If you make a mistake – own up. No excuses.

29. Failure is part of the process as an entrepreneur. Accept it. Learn from it. Move on.

30. Change is inevitable. Embrace it.

31. If ‘if’s and ‘but’s were candy and nuts – every day would be Christmas. ‘If only…’ is dreaming. It’s not reality. And there is plenty of opportunity in reality.

32. We’re not judged on what we could have been – rather we’re judged by what we actually become.

33. Life isn’t fair. Get over it.

34. Don’t dwell on the past and don’t live in the future. Focus on today.

35. Half of success is showing up. Do the work…day after day. Don’t get distracted. That’s how you become better than everyone else.

36. Today is the best day to start (anything.) Procrastination is contagious. Wait until tomorrow and you may find yourself waiting until next week, next month or next year.

37. If you’re waiting for circumstances to be different (or perfect) – you’re in for a long wait. Stop waiting and start doing.
 Here is Pat’s contact info if you want more great business advise and tips to succeed.
Pat Rigsby patatfitbusinessinsiderdotcom  (patatfitbusinessinsiderdotcom)  
Again, if you have additional tips to succeed please share them with your comments.

How to Get More High-Paying Customers Without Breaking the Marketing Budget

Businesses rely on customers to turn profits.  But only if you target the right customers. High-paying customers are essential for growing sales and profits. You find these desirable  customers by advertising your goods or services.  Marketing what your business has to offer is often an expensive and risky gamble that may or may not pay off.  Luckily, in the digital age, it’s easier than ever to draw in new high-paying customers.

If your business has a web page, your main source of finding new customers will be through referrals.  Knowing how to get referrals is the key to increasing your web traffic.  If you sell products online, more traffic is directly correlated to an increase in sales.  If you have a regular brick and mortar storefront, more web traffic means more visitors to your store who will potentially become buyers.

Depending on how much computer knowledge you have and how much time you have to dedicate to cultivating referrals, you may want to consider hiring professionals.  Consulting businesses are available for hire to help increase your web traffic.  They can address your sites content, layout, and web presence to help direct a specific demographic of visitors your way.  By targeting a certain audience, you’re more likely to increase sales because you’ll be drawing in customers that are more likely to be interested in the goods and services you’re offering.  On the downside, these services can be costly for a small business.

If you’re not able to hire a professional, or if you just want to attempt to increase traffic yourself, setting up a small business referral system is an easy and effective way to find potential customers.  One of the most common referral systems involve having current customers refer their friends and family for an incentive.  Usually, if a customer refers a few people who then become buyers, the customer doing the referring wins a reward, such as a discount or a gift card.  Cultivating referrals in this manner is less expensive than traditional advertising and is also significantly more successful.  This method is free to implement, but will cost your business revenues caused by the discounts or gift cards used to encourage customers to spread the word. That’s why it’s important to target high-paying customers.

You can also set up a page for your business on a social networking website, such as Facebook or Twitter.  Once you have an established page, you can start offering contests and giveaways.  To enter the contest or giveaway, you can require your customers to refer a certain number of friends and family members, who are likely to also become customers if they already know someone doing business with your company.  Before setting up a social network page, read the rules and regulations regarding postings and other activities.  Many social networking sites are now charging money for businesses to reach all of their fans, so check out the fine-print before going through the work of starting a page for your company.

Taking advantage of available technology will allow you to instantly reach and draw in many new high-paying customers to your business.  Learning how to get referrals on your own or with the help of a professional is the first step to increasing your sales and growing your business, so get out there and start reaching new buyers.

Finding a Balance Between Work and Play

finding a balanceFinding a balance between work and play isn’t always easy especially in today’s tough economy. Many small business owners feel compelled to think about their business 24/7. This may sound admirable but that kind of imbalance can have negative impact on your productivity, creativity and your health.

Rory Kaluza is the social media director for The Outsourcing Company and his recent blog provides six great tips for finding a balance between work and play. Below is an excerpt from his blog post.

Work vs. Fun – Finding a Balance

I am a firm believer that some of the most creative ideas are derived from real life experiences. People have a natural hunger for novelty and inspiration. The root of this inspiration usually stems from real life events and observations. When at work, there is always something driving your efforts. You may be thinking about that next pay check or a vacation you are working towards. While ideas can not be executed without work, play can contribute to higher quality ideas and more efficient execution. In light of this, here are some tips on nurturing the balance between work and play.

  • Identify the top 5 non-work activities that relieve stress and make you happy. Set aside 2-4 hours each week to participate in these activities.
  • Take a break once a day to step back from your work, reflect on progress and put things into perspective.
  • Create a fun work environment by making your work space less constricting. For example, add a putting green, post inspirational art/quotes and even consider painting your office a different color.
  • Reward yourself based on goals. For example, if you finish a big project, take a 2 day ski trip.
  • Eat right, exercise and live healthy. Some of the most successful people are also very healthy. Keeping you body healthy makes you feel better and less stressful.

To learn more about finding a balance between work and play check out Rory’s entire blog post at:

http://www.theoutsourcingcompany.com/blog/entrepreneurship/how-to-generate-creative-ideas

Let me know if you have some additional tips that are helping you find a balance.