I just got done speaking to a tremendous group of women business owners and executives in New Jersey. They just went through a devastating storm last October that was unprecedented in its impact to communications, transportation, and power loss. We spoke about that storm, as well as other crises that can impact their businesses like – loss of power, data breach, and employee issues.
Here is what I heard loud and clear from them…
- They want to improve their ability to communicate to employees and customers in a crisis. That means setting up layers of redundancy in case of loss of power, email, cell phones, or whatever other methods are being used.
- They want a plan that is in place to deal with any crisis that comes around the bend. It must be something that is repeatable, intentional, and practiced.
- Speaking of practice, most business owners and executives rarely set out practice plans (i.e. fire drills or corporate war game scenarios). How do you know it works if you never practice?
My recommendation is to set up a 3-step process for disaster planning…
Step 1 – Set a budget to include insurance premiums, outside consulting help, technology, and internal controls. This will be different for everyone due to insurance premiums, number of employees, and perils.
Step 2 – Go through disaster and crisis prevention response and planning. Allocate at least 8 hours out of an entire year to do this and re-commit annually.
Step 3 – Buy the insurance, monitor your plan, then relax and do what you do best in your business.
You can drive yourself crazy and easily drift into analysis paralysis if you allow yourself to. Make the process simple and move forward. The problem for most businesses is that they never spend the fraction of the time they need to prepare. Doing this little process by itself may save you tens of thousands of dollars, if not more.
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Do you work for horrible boss?
Many in business for themselves have “bosses” that do things that would never be tolerated by anyone else…
They can be demeaning; insulting; overbearing; demand overtime without pay; not allow vacation; and most importantly ridicule with bad language that promotes poor performance, lack of creativity, and really bad morale.
Unfortunately, those “bosses” are you.
Poor self talk is endemic in small business owners and executives. It’s so easy to fall into patterns of self-flaggelation and nothing good comes from it. There are many reasons for it…
- Poor self confidence
- Low self-esteem (which is different)
- Challenges in business
- Lack of support
- Outside influences
Positive self-talk is critical to your success both professionally and personally. I’m not talking about spouting affirmations mindlessly. I’m talking about an intentional paradigm shift in your brain that instills confidence, self worth, perspective, and excitement.
Here are some techniques to use when you find yourself slipping into horrible boss mode…
- Have perspective. I doubt you’re in a foxhole where people are shooting at you. It;s doubtful you are in a life and death situation. There are few things that can’t ultimately be fixed. Relax. Get a grip. Understand most of the population on this planet would trade places with you in a heartbeat.
- Take a deep breath. Breathing properly is fundamental to good health (and a pulse). Lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain causes bad things. Take a breath.
- Focus on the most important thing you can do at this moment. Be positive and use your brain, not your harmful words, to solve it.
- Remember that you are improving the lives and conditions of others. People are counting on you and need you to be at your best.
- Take a walk. Play with your dog. Talk to your spouse or significant other or friend. Play with your kids. Heck, watch television. But for goodness sake, change the scenery.
- Get off Facebook. There is a new sort of “disease” going around called Facebook envy. It’s where you see all your friends (and many “friends” you haven’t seen since they had braces in junior high), living great lives, going to exotic ports, with great hair, and all the glories of life. And, many are lying through their teeth. Regardless, you need to be happy with who you are and what you bring to the table. You’re better off watching a repeat of Gilligan’s Island.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. Really.
- Get help. If you need a therapist, fine. But in many cases, you need a coach, mentor, accountability partner, colleague, or friend. Don’t hold it all in. Find someone who will be there as a sounding board but not allow you to wallow in self pity.
- Get a dog. (A plug from Captain Jack – read his new column below)
Bottom line, treat yourself better and start by keeping the thoughts in your head about you positive. You are your biggest asset. Treat yourself like it!
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Your Secret Sauce to Success
Resolutions – both business and personal – are made with great intentions. And most are doomed to fail. Why? Because business plans are over-rated. They fail because you might just hit it.
It doesn’t matter what kind of business you are in. My advice to you is to eschew a business plan and create a powerful marketing plan. Having a business plan without a strategy on how you’re going to bring business in is like taking off for a secluded vacation getaway without a GPS, a map, or a Boy Scout compass. You might end up getting there, but it took you longer and wasted more of your valuable time.
Here is your GPS to success for next year (Just imagine my voice imploring you to recalculate when you go off track. I think many of my coaching and mentoring clients can relate!)…
- Determine how you improve the condition of others. What is the value you bring? What sets you apart from your competition? If you can’t sum it up in your own words, ask your best clients. Find out why they do business with you. Two things happen. First, you learn why people do business with you. Second, they remind themselves why they should continue to work with you!
- Who is your target market? Are there new audiences you should be reaching? How do you get yourself and your brand in front of them?
- Put referrals on the top of your list. Most businesses get referrals, but do a poor job of asking for them. Develop a system and language for your sales professionals (and you) to mine for gold. Asking for referrals is not difficult once you know how. Make it a priority.
- Create your own intellectual property. That means webinars, teleconferences, articles, columns, blogs, and podcasts. Create new services, products, and offerings. Become an object of interest.
- Stop wasting time and money on tactics that aren’t working. Does anybody even own a phone book anymore? Find out where people hear about you and go there.
- Find ways to speak publicly. You aren’t there to “pitch.” However, if your presentation is deemed as valuable then you will get opportunities to speak. The thundering herd of people approaching you afterwards to talk to you is your sign that people might like to hire you.
- Be better at following up. We have all been guilty of getting great leads and then letting them slip through the cracks. Set up a system that doesn’t allow that to happen.
- Set metrics and review data to see what is working and find out why. If it isn’t working, adjust and re-try. If it still isn’t working, stop. If it is working, rinse and repeat.
- Be shameless in your promotion.
I recently heard a colleague and friend of mine, Alex Goldfayn proclaim, “Marketing is no place for modesty.” He is absolutely correct. If you provide a great value through your services or products, you should be telling the whole world. If you genuinely believe that you are improving the condition and lives of others, then not aggressively tooting your own horn is actually selfish. You have great value; believe in yourself first.
Bottom line – ditch the business plan and create a powerful marketing plan. A marketing plan that works well will ultimately blow away anything your business plan would have set as a goal.
Take a left at the next light. You have reached your destination…
Here is hoping all of you slide in under the tag in 2013!
© 2013 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
As a business owner or department head, you undoubtedly think you know about everything going on. And, for the most part, you probably have a pretty good handle on the important matters. But, do you know everything that you need to know? Probably not.
The best practice is to have an independent, third-party conduct an assessment to help you better understand where things stand.
- Your team members will say things to an independent third-party that they would be reluctant or hesitant to say to you.
- You’ll get confirmation on things you may suspect are issues and you’ll likely learn some new things.
Whether your business has suffered a downturn and reduced headcount or you’ve grown in recent months or years, it’s critical that you take some time to figure out where you stand.
Your team will really appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback. This is a great, first step in turbocharging your business execution as it helps identify the logical and critical next-steps. This will help you and your company thrive.
Dave Gardner is a management consultant, speaker and blogger who resides in Silicon Valley. He helps companies resolve business execution problems to accelerate collaboration and ignite excitement. He can be reached through his website at http://www.gardnerandassoc.com or via phone at +1 888-488-4976. Follow him on Twitter @Gardner_Dave.
Alan Weiss is the author of Million Dollar Consulting® and is the foremost authority on solo practitioner consulting. He’s also a really smart guy and my mentor! I follow his weekly memo that gets sent out on Mondays. Yesterday’s was really good and I want to share it with you…
This week’s focus point: No matter what your politics, the first Presidential debate showed that the camera is always on you; preparation is vital; energy is essential; rules are almost always broken at some point; and this is an age of instantaneous communication and viral opinion. What does that mean for us? Be careful about your non-verbal behavior, stay in the moment, frequently express interest, be physically and emotionally fit, and manage the messages you need to send. If you want to stand out in a crowd, you had better plan to look good while you’re standing there.
© 2012 Alan Weiss. All Rights Reserved
A great lesson for all of us in business and life…
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
Your Secret Sauce to Success:
Lessons from Boston
Last week, I spent 4 days in Boston. It is now one of my new favorite cities. Great city to walk, the food was awesome, the weather was perfect. And, the reasons I went turned out to be great. It seems whenever I go somewhere, especially new, I pick up some lessons for my business and life. Boston was no different. I’m happy to share them with you.
The reason for my trip was to meet with my Mastermind group created out of Alan Weiss’s consulting community. Alan was personally meeting with us for a day. My colleagues are from all over North America and are world-class consultants in their own rights.
Lesson #1 – You have to be present. By present, I mean face to face. Technology is a wonderful thing, however nothing beats personal interaction. Out of the group of six (including me), I had never met three of them in person. We had spoken by conference call, emailed, and dialoged on an online forum. But, we’d never met in person. The opportunity to meet in person before our session with Alan, to have dinner together, to relax, and to have fun, was simply priceless. It made the next day more meaningful and valuable, and it will make the rest of our journey together more rewarding.
When was the last time you dropped in to see your clients face to face?
Lesson #2 – Be flexible and creative. For as much as I believe in Lesson #1, things do happen. One of our group, who lives on the West Coast, injured her back the day before she was set to leave. There was no way she could do a 5+ hour flight with a bad back. But, instead of having her miss what was a very important session, we were able to Skype her in for the entire day-long meeting. She could see us all, ask questions, and felt part of the group. Even when my iPad flipped her over, it didn’t hurt!
Find a way to leverage your resources to be inclusive, save time, and provide value in a real-time manner.
Lesson #3 – Mix business with pleasure. I knew this already, but it was cemented here. My college-age daughters go to school in Pittsburgh, so I invited them to join me. They came early and we enjoyed some great meals, a trip to Fenway Park, and even included them with my colleagues for dinner. They were a big hit with my friends, and they enjoyed being part of my “business” life, too. In addition, after they left, I stayed an extra half day to walk the city, explore the history, and enjoy the vitality of Boston. I spent almost 3 hours walking with my History Channel app guiding me to historical spots.
When business takes you someplace new and interesting, find a way to arrive early, or stay late to enjoy where you are. When was the last time you did that?
Lesson #4 – You can’t be brilliant by yourself. Again, not a new concept, but sometimes you need to be reminded. Each one of us throughout the course of our daylong meeting, found several different ways to enhance our practice, provide more value, and improve our lives. These all came from a suggestion or comment from someone else. We often can get sucked into a myopic gaze, where we end up being our worst enemy when it comes to innovation and creativity in our own business. Having regular contact with a mentor, coach, or support group is critical to new idea generation and success.
Where do you go for help? Do you have a mentor, coach, or group to help you be brilliant?
Lesson #5 – When you’re in Boston, swing by Sonsie on Newbury and buy the Butternut Squash Pizza. You won’t be sorry. I know this is more of a tip than a lesson, but you just gained a little slice of food value. Go with it!
Do you take time to slow down and enjoy where you are in the moment? Sitting by myself, eating lunch, and enjoying the world go by was refreshing> When was the last time you rewarded yourself?
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved
September is National Prepardeness Month and to “celebrate” that, I am offering a very special teleconference on September 18th from 12:00 to 1:00 Pacific (3:00-4:00 EST). My guest
will be nationally renowned branding strategist, Dorie Clark.
We all know that being prepared for crisis is critical to surviving one. Whether it’s a natural disaster, an economic crisis, or a travesty like what happened at Penn State University, you must be ready to make tough and smart decisions.
Is part of your process on how to protect your brand and reputation?
Reputation risk may be just as damaging as the crisis that started it. Just ask BP! You must have a plan in place to communicate effectively to employees, investors, clients, prospective customers, the media, and your community. Failure to do this will lead to distrust, loss of reputation, and lost revenue. Having a plan in place, on the other hand, will set you in a postion to not only protect your good name, but take advantage of the opportunity to thrive.
In this teleconference, Dorie will share with your strategies, tactics, tips, and suggestions on how to prepare your business or organization to respond to a crisis both internally and externally. You will walk away with new ideas on how to:
- When and how to effectively work with the media
- How to inspire and lead your employees when chaos is all around you
- How to communicate with your supply chain and key stakeholders
- How to protect your brand
My guest, Dorie Clark is the President of Clark Strategic Communications in Boston. Dorie is recognized as a “branding expert” by the Associated Press, She honed her crisis communication skills as a spokesperson for Howard Dean’s presidential campaign and as the press secretary for former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich’s gubernatorial race. Today, she is a frequent contributor to the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and the American Management Association’s publications. She is also a columnist for Mint, India’s second-largest business newspaper. She consults on marketing and branding strategy for clients like Google, Yale University, and the Ford Foundation, and is the author of the forthcoming Harvard Business Review Publishing book Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future (2013).
Dorie has taught marketing and communications at Emerson College, Tufts University, Suffolk University, and Smith College Executive Education. She has also lectured at universities worldwide, including Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business. She is quoted frequently in the international media, including the New York Times, NPR, the BBC, and more. At age 18, Dorie graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College, and two years later received a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School.
Yesterday, I held my monthly executive group workshop and the topic was time management. Several of the group members want to make more time to strategize and are frustrated in not making that time. In talking with one member in a follow up this morning, she shared with me her dilemma. “Strategy” as a word can be very amorphous and overwhelming. In fact, in can be so overwhelming that it actually paralyzes you from doing it at all!
Strategy work for executives and business owners should be like eating an elephant. One bite at a time.
Bite # 1 – Define what you want to accomplish. Are you making short or long term goals? Do you need to contemplate sales or operations challenges? Are you formulating an exit strategy (regardless of how far in the future that might be)?
Bite # 2 – Once you’ve defined strategy, “unbundle” to make them more bite size. Take only one small bullet point of one of your categories and work on that. Maybe you schedule out your strategy sessions over the course of six months and attack only one piece at a time. This will keep you more focused and the sessions shorter.
Bite # 3 – Put your strategy time on the calendar and hold it sacrosanct. Treat your time like you are a client. As an executive or owner, you are doing the best for your company when you are engaging in strategy work.
Bite # 4 – Keep notes. They can be either electronic or paper. Always know what you accomplished and what the next steps are.
Bite # 5 – Be persistent. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Find the time, keep your commitments, follow through, and work one day at a time. This persistence in the end will pay off.
Whether it’s cleaning your garage; getting into shape; eating that proverbial elephant; or making time to strategize; you WILL eventually finish your task with a committed and consistent plan. Define, unbundle, commit, record, and persistence will finish off the elephant and your strategy work.
© 2012 Dan Weedin. All Rights Reserved