Archive for May, 2010

What do the Oil Spill, the Recession and Your Business Have in Common?

Having lived along the US Gulf Coast several times, I have more than a passing interest in the oil spill. The unstoppable surge of leaking crude is threatening wildlife, tourism, commerce and lives for thousands of miles. From Louisiana to Florida, everyone is preoccupied with the story. It has captured the nation’s, and now the world’s attention for weeks.

Here are some observations on the crisis from listening, watching and reading the media reports. It seems it took the government weeks to act decisively. First there was the usual finger-pointing. Blaming everyone for lax regulations, poor leadership and inactivity in a crisis. “It was the fault of big business out of control,” they said. We need a federal rescue. Then the government stepped in and offered to save the day. The President said he is in charge and will get the leak stopped. But things aren’t really getting any better.

I could either be talking about the oil spill or the recession. Or maybe I could be talking about the money gushing out of your business. When your company is in trouble…and leaking customers, you do the same thing. You don’t act decisively, you point fingers, you blame someone with more power than you (your competition, the government, God, the devil, or a bigger business), you ask for public assistance and things just seem to get worse. Stupid customers! Stupid competition! Stupid assistance! Stupid…!
Maybe you should look at how you react to the spill, the dip, the flood away from you. Maybe the best reaction is the way you are looking at the problem.

Last week the US stock market took the biggest one day loss in history. It also had a major gain the same week. Get used to it. Gasoline prices once moved a penny each week and it made news. They now move five to ten cents overnight…and we have gotten used to it. We don’t like it, but we get used to it and move on. Good advice, quit whining and start moving on.

You are either contributing to the problem or solving it. Every crisis presents an opportunity. See the ultimate, not the immediate. Act now to make a difference from those panicking around you. Don’t let a good crisis go to waste.

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I Know A Secret!

In my opinion you need to reinvent your business constantly. If you are continually evaluating your results, you aren’t in touch with your business. I constantly question my habits and my systems for generating income. I believe that if you don’t reinvent yourself at least every two years in this fast-paced market and business environment, you will be OUT of business. But the desire to reinvent yourself comes with complications, fear and trepidation. We don’t want to take the risk involved to reinvent ourselves.

A friend once advised me to move forward under the assumption that I couldn’t fail. I have found this one of the most useful suggestions I have ever heard. The fear of failure holds most people back from taking a chance and making changes. If we knew we couldn’t fail, we would seem invincible. I was waiting on a client in the lobby of a large hotel. Seated near me was a woman dressed for an important interview. She seemed anxious. I asked what she was doing and she confirmed that she had an important interview. When she heard I had experience in motivating people she asked if I had any encouragement for her.

I told her, to act in the interview as if she couldn’t fail. Walk in with an air of confidence that everyone in the room will experience as an “electric” moment. To do this, just before you go into the interview room, say these words out loud to yourself: “I know a secret.” She smiled and the expression on her face reflected that she was confident. I said, “That is the look you want to convey to your future boss.” She did what I said and got the job. Later she was told that she was hired because she was the only person they interviewed who looked the part of someone who conveyed confidence.

How about you? What would your business look like in two years if you didn’t fail at anything you did? How much money would you be making? Would you be dominating your market? If your answer is “yes” then you know what the greatest obstacle is in growing your business – you. You are your own worst impediment. Your fears; your belief in your own inadequacy; your failure to commit. If you could get out of your own way, you would be overwhelmingly successful. So what is stopping you?

Want to know my secret?

What is the Toughest Decision You Will Ever Make?

Deciding to act on your reinvention is the hardest part. Like writing a term paper in school, deciding to get started is the hardest stage. Please understand that I maintain that reinventing yourself is simple. The only hard part I have discovered is deciding to take action. The risk involved is frightening to most people. The resistance is strong. Leaders who reinvent themselves say that this stage is the toughest one to face. They know what they have to do, but are unwilling for one reason or another to make the change.

Perhaps it is pride – we thought we were right in the first place. Perhaps it is short-sightedness. I was told by a door manufacturer that he knew that he had employees who refused to change, but he wasn’t willing to make them do as he said so he kept paying them to do what he didn’t want them to do. Perhaps it is fear of the unknown – we don’t know how circumstances will play out. But remember, you will decide to change when the pain of keeping the status quo is greater than the pain of making the transition to a better life.

In my own life I wasted too much time in denial and was afraid of taking the bold step forward. But when I finally overcame my fears and took the first step, the rewards were plentiful. I remember calling my wife while on the road and telling her that I wanted to fully commit to reinventing my personal life as well as my professional career. To that end I gave her permission, no, I gave her the authority to toss out everything in my wardrobe that she didn’t like and thought was out of fashion. When I got home, my closet contents were decreased by almost 66%! But the clothes we bought were much better than what I wore before. I was now getting compliments on my image from people who were noticing the improvements.

Be intentional and deliberate. Be clear about what you are trying to achieve and test whether that is what you are getting. Most of all be confident in yourself. Recall the many times you have adapted and adjusted in life before now and how your strength brought you through. You are a winner, or you wouldn’t be alive to tell about it today. An individual can get discouraged when going back and forth between dream and the reality checks it puts you through without realizing that it is actually a proving ground for resilience and stability in your new role.

I tell my friends that they will succeed when their determination exceeds their discomfort with the way things are. The more determination, the more success and the less the discomfort affects you. Does your determination outweigh your discomfort? Which is running your life?

Make the decision.

The Number 1 Product of Your Company is…People!

Your greatest product is the people who work for you. Inspire them, feed them, listen to them, free up their intuition and they will take you places you and your marketing design team could never imagine. Your people are creative beyond your wildest imagination. Their intuition and creativity can start you on the process to reinvent yourself. Use their creativity to present ideas in favor of the customer, and creativity to differentiate you from the competition.

Do you have programs for growing your people in place? Or are they simply coming in collecting a paycheck and going home? How many of your employees are on Monster.com looking for another job?  If you aren’t growing your people you aren’t in the game. You need programs to grow your people, not cut back on them. You need a plan for monitoring their progress through strategizing with them and coaching. Are you participating in the growth of your people? If your people are being grown they will participate in the purpose of the organization and help you develop processes to serve your customers better.

What are you doing to tap into your people to grow your organization and sales? Have you even sought their advice regularly? No one knows your products, services, customers and complaints as well as your own people. Jeffrey Gitomer said recently, “When ‘survey’ companies ask questions of people, why don’t they ask the people actually doing the work?”  Why ask the CEO who isn’t connected with the product line, the assembly line, the sales system or the customer/client base? Why ask random customers in useless surveys, when your own people talk to the top customers on a daily or weekly basis?

Your people are connected and you can connect them further. Let them see who they are really working for. Don’t put a picture of yourself in the company, but the customers they serve. John Deere labels each tractor for the farmer they are producing it for. Every factory line worker knows who they are assembling each tractor for. They feel more involved in the process so they are more inspired to produce more effectively and discover ways to serve the purpose better.

What can you learn from Jimmy Buffett about building your Culture?

What if you could do what you love doing—your passion—all of the time?  What if you were paid vast amounts of money to do it?  What if it continued for years and years?  That’s the life Jimmy Buffett leads. 

As I write this I am listening to a Jimmy Buffett concert broadcast live on “Radio Margaritaville.” The culture that Jimmy has stays with him and grows every year by leaps and bounds. Everyone seems to know the words to the songs. When he says, “Fins up!” everyone knows what he means to do and what song is coming next. Although he writes new songs every year, his community loves the culture he has developed around his brand.

Jimmy Buffett has throngs of cult followers. They know the words and motions to specific songs, dress like a day at the beach for the tailgate parties that precede his concerts and follow him from venue to venue. Yet Buffett has only had one Number 1 hit song (and it isn’t Margartaville). It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere topped the charts and won him the Grammy with Alan Jackson (Jimmy’s appearance in the song comes in late and lasts only 40 seconds). But he sells out arenas the day his tickets go on sale. His chain of international restaurants and gift shops are as strong as ever. Radio Margaritaville began as an internet phenomenon and it has carried to satellite radio and Dish TV. His cult following is well entrenched. It is more than an experience, it’s a feeding frenzy!

Discover you passion. Do what you love to do. Get paid for it. You can build your cultural brand today.

Was Wall Street Driven by Fear or Facts?

Yesterday the United States stock markets experienced the largest one day drop in history. At one point the DOW Jones Industrial Average was down 998 points.  Then they “recovered” – to only lose about 300 points.  Nice. What caused this selling frenzy? Panic. Someone, according to the news media, hit the wrong button on a sell order that changed the amount from Million to Billion. From that point on, logic was in the passenger seat. Emotions (fear being the most prevalent one) took over. The rest is new history. Or is it really “new?”

Most economies are more driven by emotion than by facts. They are almost 80% Emotions and 20% Facts. We even describe them by states of emotional stability. We call bear markets “recessions and depressions: People sell in a “panic.” As in “The Panic of 1873.” People buy in a bull market “frenzy.” Most of the current economic problems America and finally the world are facing have been brought on by fears.

The United States GDP was growing and we hadn’t had one quarter as of this article of decline in early 2008, but the media was driving home the current recession. The stock market fell in September 2008 as a direct result of the failure of Lehman Brothers and a week of negative news coverage of it. Then it went global. Soon afterwards the Canadian economy went into a tumble. As a friend in Toronto told me, “When the US gets a cold, Canada sneezes.” Look at how the disaster in the Greek economy is affecting attitudes and markets around the world.

Fear is rampant today. Fear drives more economic decisions than the truth does. Fear of our own inabilities. Fear of loss. Fear of failure. What helped propel the wildest day on Wall Street? According to Patrick Rizzo and John Schoen writing for MSNBC.com, “Fear that the European debt crisis could spread was a factor.” What can you do in the face of mounting fear and despair?

The more successful people I network and socialize with choose not to participate in talk of fear and recession. Oh, they are pariticpating in the recession – successfully; just not the talk of fear associated with it.  I believe that if you work hard there is always enough money circulating and you will receive an ample amount of it. Senior leadership who are motivated by fear and who won’t spend money on improving customer service and educating their people will pay dearly when the present “crisis” is over and they find themselves without customers…and a job.

Is your motivation driven by fact or fiction? How do you overcome the emotional angle and start generating your own momentum? Start not buying into the fear around you and start making a difference.

The Recession Will Never End!

The recession will never end. They never do. They leave lasting effects for generations that change our lives forever. Start living like this one is here to change everything. If you don’t reinvent yourself in the next year you may be extinct in two years.

There is no elephant in the room; it’s a dinosaur.

It can happen. It already has to Circuit City, Pontiac, Schlitz, Gateway computers, Aloha Airlines, Palm and many others. The vultures are gathering for AIG, the Gap and Borders and Eddie Bauer. It’s a competitive world and just while you were reading this, many other businesses closed their doors for the last time. They couldn’t adapt to a challenging economy and they got swept away with no loyal customer base to support them and their brands. They failed to create a culture that would stand the test of time.

What are you doing differnt than you did a year ago? What sets you apart from everyone else who says they are in the same business you are in? Many more organizations have changed successfully. They were faced with a choice and they chose reinvention over extinction. Companies like Motorola, Novell, Autodesk, Domino’s, IBM, Godiva and many, many more reinvented themselves and carved out new industries and market niches.

Start the Reinvention Process.


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